“The Skin She Wears” Naiza Khan

By cloelea, May 25 2017

Naiza Khan, Armour suit for Rani of Jhansi
Naiza Khan, Constellation of Attire
Gustav Klimt, Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer

The subject of the last post about the intimate relationship between the body and jewellery has made me interested in analysing the works of two artists who are not jewellers but who I like very much: the Austrian painter Gustav Klimt and the Pakistani contemporary artist: Naiza Khan.

These two artists have worked, amongst other themes, on the way that anything we wear (clothes, adornments, jewellery…) forms a sort of second skin that reflects our inner self.

“In Klimt’s portraits, the dress is no less important than the model. In a subtle way it serves to unveil the woman’s personality, heightening the effect of face, neck and hands… clothes have the same essential function as bodily organs, or rather they become organs” (Gilles Neret).

The ornaments chosen to be drawn by Klimt on the woman serve a purpose, which is to uncover the truth behind the pure anatomical aspects of the body, it is a window to the wanderings of the soul. “Decorative luxuriance signified for Klimt an enrichment of the reality, a means of letting the unconscious penetrate conscious life…”

I would like to compare Klimt’s work with the work of Naiza Khan, entitled “The Skin She Wears”. This might seem rather strange as both works are very different yet they share the same idea of how the women attire reflects both the emotional inner self but also the constrictions and limits imposed by society.

“‘The clothes she wears’, began as a strategy to explore the emotional content of the body through attire. Lingerie, chastity belts, straight jackets and other objects play the stage. The cloths locate the body more explicitly and what it confronts between personal and political spaces. They also create multiple identities or personae” (Fabio Rossi). Lingerie made of metal, looking like armours, but with a sense of feminity and intimacy because of the use of feathers, ribbons and the curving shapes of the woman’s body.

“…these pieces explore the “crossing” between the constructed constricting world which presses down on us and the limitlessness of the imagination which resists being bound in” (Iftikhar Dadi).

For an in-depth analysis of Naiza Khan’s “The Skin She Wears”, see: http://rossirossi.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/Naiza-Khan-The-Skin-She-Wears.pdf

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