Dr Tahseen Khan - a doctor who creates art

"painter, jewellery maker, polymer clay artist, and an art teacher - all rolled into one"

DrTKThere are many sides to Dr Tahseen Khan. She is a doctor, painter, jewellery maker, polymer clay artist, and an art teacher -  all rolled into one. And that’s not all.  The doctor cum artist is very conscious about her commitment to society and community.  A neonatologist with Jahra Hospital,  Dr Tahseen Khan is Vice-President of Indian Women’s Association, a leading nonprofit organization that has supported community work since its inception in 1998. A doctor with the Ministry of Health Kuwait since 1981, she has left her mark with her compassionate handling of her patients. “ I started my career as a neonatologist and grown as a physician and human being. I have learnt patience, faith and resilience from the parents of my fragile patients. Their grateful smiles have been a reward in itself. It is a moment of real gratitude when some of my patients come back as parents themselves.”

Warm-hearted, gentle and always smiling Tahseen is passionate about her art.  “It’s a question of time management,” she observes. “Painting is a way of decompressing from the pressures of intensive care work. If you have the passion, you will always find the time!” For decades, she continued to paint and evolve as an artist, silently and unobtrusively until she had her first major exhibition in 2011.  Her second solo exhibition titled ‘Be the Change’ was at Bayt Lothan in 2012  followed by another showing of her work in 2015.

DrTK3Born in the southern Indian city of  Chennai, Tahseen inherited her artistic sensibilities from her mother. However as is with most Indian families, academic pursuits were accorded greater importance, and while building a career in medicine and paediatrics in the late 70s, her creative juices lay dormant. Then slowly and steadily  Tahseen began exploring her artistic side, and soon she was rediscovering a world of colours and textures aided by regular art workshops. “I have always been interested in expressing my moods and thoughts creatively,” she says. “ The play of colour and light inspires me immensely. My mother instilled in me the love of nature, painting and crafts but academic pursuits were prioritized. At that time, my art would not be considered professionally viable,” she rationalises. “ As a result, I was advised to put it on the back burner. My pursuit for art lay dormant during medical college. However, for the past two decades, I have been able to revive my passion.”

DrTK4Tahseen continued to paint canvas after canvas with her friends and family as appreciative spectators, continuously urging her to exhibit. Their enthusiasm is understandable.  As an artist, Tahseen is spontaneous and intuitive. She expresses her moods not only through paint but also through clay and fibre. Her paintings have their own narratives, and each work seems to trace her maturity as an artist.  When asked why it took her so long to have her first exhibition, Tahseen explains, “Painting is a passion which I indulge as a way of de-stressing from the hectic strain of my professional responsibilities. Friends and family have always admired my work, and they have been a huge source of encouragement. I have also received positive peer-reviews from other artists around the world through online forums. This prompted  me to  showcase my work.” Apart from canvas, Tehseen also has to her credit an impressive array of polymer clay sculptures and jewellery.


Speaking of her growth as a painter, she observes, “Over the years, I have progressed and become more self-assured, and the themes of my paintings reflect my confidence. With  experience and training from master painters like Susan Saraback, I can express myself boldly, and I believe a style of my own has emerged.”

A visit to  Tahseen’s home is a visual delight. Apart from her paintings that hang in every corner, there is on display evidence of her work in other mediums. “In my journey through artistic expression, I have explored silk painting and jewellery making. I have become particularly fascinated by sculpting with polymer clay which I feel is a very versatile medium.  Sculpting just takes my expression to a completely new level, which is very exciting,” she shares.  

DrTK2Tahseen’s paintings are narratives; they are richly textured and evocative. Most of her works centre on rural life in India, highlighting the role played by women. “Impressions of childhood play an enormous role in shaping one’s personality,” explains Tahseen. “Education may have widened horizons, but deep down the imprints on the formative mind shape one’s character. In most of my paintings,  I try to capture the magic of those moments in the suburbs of Madurai.  I attempt to relive the escapades in a bullock cart with my mother or bargaining in the local market for flowers. Since I come from a very conservative background, where education for women was frowned upon, I feel truly blessed that my parents provided me with the necessary strength to build myself a career. I suppose this emotion seeps through instinctively while depicting women in different moods.”

Apart from medicine and art, Tahseen is also actively involved with community work. As Vice President of Indian Women's Association, she has engaged in raising awareness, empowered women with information on treatment and risk factors of different diseases, organised health camps and workshops and fund-raised for charity. As an expatriate, Dr Tahseen Khan has enriched the social fabric of her adopted home with her multifarious activities. As a dedicated doctor, she has ably carried out her professional obligations, and with her art and engagements with local artists, she has tried to open a creative dialogue that transcends cultures.



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