In conversation with the lawyer turned artist


Sarah Asim Khan is a charismatic lawyer who mastered her art skills during the first wave of COVID19. Since then she has exhibited at the Arts Council in Karachi and at the Avari Tower Hotel during the Italian National Day. Her artwork remains a permanent feature in the Italian Consulate.  Khan strongly believes that art has no boundaries and the talented artist always produces art with a message – while her Cultural Diplomacy paintings promote harmony in the world, her abstract wildlife paintings promote love and compassion for wild animals. She is the first artist in Pakistan to create and exhibit Cultural Diplomacy art, and has already created paintings for 30 countries.

Who is Sarah Asim Khan?
Sarah Asim Khan: Bold, passionate, progressive-minded, charismatic and adventurous. I am not a follower, I believe in leading towards an innovative and constructive path. People have described me as “unique”, “special” and “different”. I believe in carving my own path and leaving a mark in the world by carrying out the meaningful purpose of my existence.

What aspect of being a lawyer interests you the most?
SAK: New challenges and intellectual curiosity allows me to grow. I like to have an insight to the practicalities and procedures, which operate systems within the laws and regulations. The legal profession provides services to people for their rights and legitimate matters. It brings me satisfaction to resolve disputes that take place in the lives of my clientele as they approach me with hope.

Have you ever worked on a case that was hard not to take home with you? How did you handle the situation?
SAK: Land grabbing and adverse possession cases are difficult in Pakistan. Lawyers receive threats from gangs of land mafia. It raises security concerns. Resilience, networking and people’s skills are used to handle such situations.

What kind of cases do you generally handle?
SAK: I have practiced many areas of law including criminal, civil and corporate laws. All laws are interconnected. Currently, I mainly practice property law in which commercial and contract laws apply and various statutes are relevant.

If you had to pick one skill that is most important to have as a barrister, what would you say it is?
SAK: Articulation.

How did the shift from being an extremely successful barrister to an artist come about?
SAK: An artist is born. As a child, I recall that I was praised for my artwork and creativity. As I grew older, I focused on professional qualifications and my law career. During the first wave of COVID19, when there was a strict quarantine at home, I started painting and I improved my skills with practice. It led to two grand and successful art exhibitions. It was totally meant to be. My main theme is Cultural Diplomacy art. I am the first in Pakistan to create and exhibit Cultural Diplomacy art. I have created paintings for 30 countries in the last couple of years.

Tell us about which artists have influenced your work?
SAK: I am inspired by Leonardo Da Vinci. He was a scientist and an artist. He has applied scientific methods to art. He was an animal lover like me. His work is mysterious. I devise my own colour schemes and shade combinations, however, the admirers of my vibrant artwork have commented that my art resembles the art of Friedensreich Hundertwasser and Gustav Klimt.

Do you have any formal training or are you self-taught?
SAK: I am a self-taught artist. I explore innovative ideas and styles without adhering to rigid criteria. Creative expression is what it is. You can improve your artistic techniques with time and practice but you cannot mould an artist. I don’t believe in painting with rules; I break the barriers. “Monet is only an eye – but my God, what an eye!” – Paul Cézanne. I believe art is in the eye.

What is a day in the life of a professional artist like?
SAK: Leisure time is for art, sometimes, when I have the energy at night and over weekends. It can take days or months to be inspired to create a masterpiece.

What is your definition of art career success?
SAK:  “There is only one success – to be able to spend your life in your own way” – Christopher Morley. The quote says it all

What invaluable art business lesson did you learn in the past year that took your career to the next level?
SAK: I have held two grand art exhibitions in 2021 and 2022. My first solo art exhibition was a 3-day event at the Arts Council of Pakistan Karachi in March, 2021. My second art exhibition was held on the Italian National Day event in collaboration with the Consulate of Italy in Karachi at Avari Tower Hotel in June, 2022. In some countries, art has cultural and historical significance – where art was promoted by political figures and legendary families, such as the Medici family. Italy is an enthusiastic promoter of art and culture. In countries where the value of art is ardently appreciated, there are abundant opportunities, not confined to a niche market.

Do you have an essential philosophy that guides you in your creative expression?
SAK: Art has no boundaries. It can transcend souls, minds, geographical locations and time. I like to contribute to the world through my art and other social services and humanitarian work. My Cultural Diplomacy paintings promote harmony in the world. My abstract wildlife paintings promote love and compassion for wild animals. My philosophy is to be original.

How do you begin your painting? Do you have a set method or does your technique vary from painting to painting?
SAK: I do not limit myself to set methods and techniques. Sometimes, I only use paint in my artwork. At other times, I create mixed media art, which is fun and I get to work with more tools and techniques along with paints. I have also created some handcrafted objects.

Which painting of yours are you most proud of, or consider a particular favourite?
SAK: I have created a painting for the Consulate of Italy in Karachi and I have gifted it to the Consulate. It is titled, ‘Italy and Pakistan Solidarity Beyond the Borders’. The aim is to enhance ties between the two countries, which can lead to increased friendship, trade, travel and tourism. My painting is permanently displayed inside the Consulate and I am proud of it. I am grateful to the Consul of Italy, Mr. Danilo Giurdanella, the Vice Consul of Italy, Mr. Enrico Ricciardi and all the officers of the Consulate for their appreciation. I created a painting about abstract wildlife and I sold it to Mr. Ricciardi. It is displayed in his office in the Consulate. It gives me joy that my artistic vision is receiving support on an international level.
I have created a painting, which is a Celtic theme from the Irish origin. It was displayed in my art exhibition at the Italian National Day event. The legend of King Arthur and Merlin is my favourite legend and I created a painting regarding the same for the United Kingdom, which was displayed in my art exhibition at the Arts Council of Pakistan Karachi. Former British Deputy High Commissioner in Karachi, Mr. Mike Nithavrianakis attended my art exhibition and elaborated on the Arthurian legend in my painting, which was interesting. I consider these paintings as my favourites.

Which famous artist from history would you like to spend a day with? And Why?
SAK: Leonardo Da Vinci. I am inquisitive to observe his knowledge and skills. I share his belief that learning is an infinite process.

Some of your paintings pertain to abstract wildlife – how would you describe those?
SAK: I am a conservationist. I have written columns on wildlife conservation and environmental protection that are published to create awareness about the ecosystem and to promote compassion for animals. My paintings regarding abstract wildlife also aim to promote wildlife conservation for a thriving flora and fauna. Some places including the United Kingdom, Spain, Brussels, Quebec, France and New Zealand have played an important role in recognising and classifying animals as sentient beings in regulations and laws.

If you were to mentor younger artists who are beginning their art careers what single most important piece of advice would you offer?
SAK: Paint-out-of-the-box.

If you were to choose one of the two, art or law, which would it be and why?
SAK: Art is an expensive hobby. I choose law as my profession. All of my formal qualifications and trainings are in the legal profession from London, UK. I have completed my pupillage from Queen Counsel’s chambers in London and I was litigating as a criminal defence advocate in the UK. My legal background has given me the skills, the intellect and the strength to pursue professional and social extracurricular activities, which includes art. It has given me the forum to advocate for accomplishing goals and causes.

What are you most passionate about?
SAK: I am passionate about wildlife and nature, which includes wild animals, forests, mountains and beaches. I love travel and tourism. I like outdoorsy activities such as hiking and camping.

Dream country?
SAK: Costa Rica.

Favourite scent?
SAK: Chanel No. 5.

Coffee or tea?
SAK: Coffee.

One thing you can’t live without?
SAK: My pets.

Your go-to label ?
SAK: Desigual.

Heels or flats?
SAK: Heels.

Last book you read?
SAK: The Secret by Rhonda Byrne.   


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