Friday 12 July, 2024

Capturing The Essence of The Moment: Mahnoor Khan


Photography is a complex medium which requires a strong understanding of how to communicate without words and to transform metaphors into reality. This is exactly what Mahnoor Khan excels at. The essence of the moment and her photographs act as a medium of communication for those unheard, metaphors of reality and expression to emotions that are well kept hidden. 

This is beautifully illustrated in her photoseries Cheekh. Cheekh translates to scream in Urdu. This series is a representation of the duality that exists in nature. This series explores the injustice and evil that exists in society. Cheekh gives a voice to hidden social norms. Mahnoor brilliantly styled and coordinated the series, so that it incorporated high-art sensibilities. The nudity, closeness, veil of the model, and intentional markings amplify the feeling of uncertainty and spirituality as well as anger and pain. This series patiently explores the everyday emotions of pain, fear, and sadness. In an attempt to normalize these emotions, she creatively superimposed images and frames and manipulated negatives to create multifaceted shots, which were filled with imagery and a high visual aesthetic. The result was spectacular visual imagery, which included one of the photographs of the series “Untitled” to be featured in Vogue Italia, one of the leading fashion publications. 

Not only was she featured in Vogue Italia, but Cheekh has been selected into the permanent collection of the  FotoNostrum Gallery located in Barcelona, Spain.  Her artistic choices for shadow and light manipulation were key to making her pictures stand out from those of her peers.  She expertly knows that the use of light can influence the meaning of a shot and she employed distinguished lighting techniques which involved backlight (silhouette), and under-lighting (light across a character form). Such high-level techniques are only employed by the most experienced creative professionals, and Mahnoor undoubtedly solidified the quality and artistic value of the the shots. 

Most impressively, Mahnoor has exhibited her work Alone in the prestigious NYC Gallery Space 776. Space 776 has accommodated local and international artists taking the work to international art fairs such as Volta Basel, Art Miami, Affordable Art Fair, Asia Contemporary Art Show, and Art Busan. It opened a space in Seoul in 2019 to introduce New York-based artists to the Asian market. Her work Alone explores metaphorical thinking, how metaphors work, and the kinds of comparison involved in metaphorical thinking. In Alone, Mahnoor explores in nature and metaphor, the idea of loneliness. One cannot define anything in terms of something else without viewing the comparison from one’s own personal perspective. 

Mahnoor’s work doesn’t stop there. As a professional photographer, she was called upon to serve as Adjunct Professor at Five Towns College, a prestigious art school whose alumni include Julian Casablancas, lead singer of The Strokes, Wyclef Jean, rapper and producer of The Fugees, and Adam Levine, lead singer of Maroon 5. Drawing from her ample experience in photography, she taught her students unique techniques such as how lighting can provide more texture and detail on the surface. 

Mahnoor’s artistry is complex and covered with layers that draws the audience into her work, trying to decipher her metaphors. Her complex work has received an Honorable Mention – Professional Fine Art Category at The Photography Gala Awards in Barcelona, Spain. She was also the recipient of the  Best in Show Award at the Julia Margaret Cameron Awards. 

Mahnoor has exhibited her work internationally in New York, Barcelona, and Turkey.  

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