Realism Ambassador of the Week: Safia Khilji

Meet this week’s top Realism Today Ambassador, Safia Khilji.

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Safia Khilji is a 25-year-old artist from Balochistan, Pakistan. Safia paints commissioned portraits and is working toward a BS in Fine Arts at University of Balochistan, majoring in Miniature Art. “Miniature art is a very ancient Persian and Mughal art technique.”

Khilji says that she wants to paint beauty in order to bring happiness in others and contribute to society: “For me, art is not only for Art; it is for life.”

Safia Khilji, “Sufi Buzarg,” watercolor on paper

“‘Sufi Buzarg’ is a portrait of sufi saint. The name is known as tasawwuf in the Arabic-speaking world, and is a form of Islamic mysticism that emphasizes introspection and spiritual closeness with Allah. It is actually a broader style of worship that transcends sects, directing followers’ attention inward. The sufis were not materialistic; they used to give, whether it was love, wealth, etc., to help others just to make Allah happy. For me humanity is the thing that brings peace in this world.”

Safia Khilji, “Old Man,” oil on canvas, 24 x 36, commission

“The man shown in this painting died in 2017. His family respected him; they asked me to paint this and I completed it in two days. When I sent the painting to them, his daughter cried and said, ‘I felt that my agha jan (pakhtun calls their elder one or father or grandfather Agha jan) is in front of me.”

Safia Khilji, “Grandmother,” watercolor on paper, 5-10 minute painting

“I met this lady two months before her death. She was so kind and innocent, smiling to everyone even she was not fine but still she meet us so warmly. Her family loved this work because of the respect I showed their grandmother for painting her portrait.”

Connect with Safia Khilhi on Instagram: @safa_suleimankhail

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Related > Browse portrait and figure workshops in the style of contemporary realism here.