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Khushna Sulaman-Butt at Stems Gallery




Khushna Sulaman-Butt, born in 1995 in Blackburn, UK, completed her BFA in Fine Art at Oxford University in 2016 and her MFA at the Slade School of Fine Art in 2021. Khushna creates large scale figurative works, whose subjects are rooted in her British-Pakistani background as well as in the exploration of aesthetics of the female body, the subversive exchange of power latent in gender, societal expectation and stereotype. The Artist creates her art working from original photography, allowing the viewer to gain a position of either dominance or submission, questioning our perceptions of identity and culture.


Khushna’s work has most recently been exhibited at Stems Gallery, Paris and Lindon&Co Gallery, London, where she was featured alongside Lubaina Himid (2022). Recent exhibitions include Portrait Artist of the Year: The Exhibition, Compton Verney, Warwickshire. Previous exhibitions include the Saatchi Graduate Show Grads Now, London (2021 & 2020); Tomorrow: London, White Cube, London (2020) and RCA/SLADE School Graduation Show, Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery, London (2020). She was shortlisted for the 2017 BP Portrait Award, for which her painting Society was toured nationally, including at Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens, Sunderland, The Scottish National Portrait Gallery, The Royal Albert Memorial Museum Exeter and The National Portrait Gallery London. She’s a graduate of The Ruskin School of Fine Art, Oxford University, and undertook her Masters at The Slade School of Fine Art, University of London.

Artist Statement


My practice aims to revive classical postures, exploring the relationship between classical expectations in figurative art and modern societal diversity that we see today. In particular, my work attempts to solve the problems that surface when I represent people from a wide variety of sexual, racial and economic backgrounds and place them within the framework of a traditional westernised cannon. My work is a negotiation between these two extremes as I engage with the signs and visual rhetoric of diversity within my sitters, bridging this gap between artist, subject and viewer. My process begins with photographing family, friends and strangers. Methods of traditional portraiture are applied when negotiating their experience, perceiving their body language, gaze, and the identity they present. I translate their essence into classical poses and situations, aiming to shine a light on my sitters in a way that they may not have been seen within the communities they usually inhabit.