Sharifah Fatimah bt. Syed Zubir was born in 1948 in Alor Star, Kedah, Malaysia. She studied at the MARA Institute of Technology (ITM) Malaysia from 1967 until 1971 which earned a Diploma in Fine Art. She graduated with the first fine arts class of ITM and was awarded the Best Student Award in 1971. Later she went on to study at Reading University in Reading, England where earned a First Class Honours Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Art majoring in painting. Besides that, Sharifah Fatimah was also a recipient of the prestigious John D Rockefeller Fund Fellowship and various other Malaysian federal scholarships. Then she went on to do her postgraduate studies at the Pratt Institute New York where she did brilliantly and she was awarded with a Master’s Degree in Fine Art.
After that, between 1982 until 1989, Sharifah Fatimah worked as a Curator of Art at the National Art Gallery in Kuala Lumpur. She then went on to become a full-time artist and art curator since 1990 until now. In her professional career, Sharifah Fatimah, 65 years old; has an extensive repertoire of solo and group exhibitions which includes exhibitions in Geneva, Sarajevo, Seville, Rome, Tehran, China and also Paris. She is also the first Malaysian female artist to receive to be conferred the Order of Dato’ Setia DiRaja Kedah (DSDK) from HRH Sultan Kedah.
Sharifah Fatimah discovers that through abstract painting, she could express the essence of nature rather than its outward or physical manifestation. In Islamic Art, it is important to not have any representation of nature. She mentions that she wants to paint the spirit of something not its form. Sharifah Fatimah states that she would rather paint the spirit of a bird flying instead of the bird form itself or its feathers. She uses colours to portray the message of life and its rhythm in her paintings.