Riffat Alvi was born and educated in Karachi. She undertook a special course of water colours under Mrs. Elizabeth Bassiet, American artist at the Pakistan American Cultural Centre and Oil Painting Advanced under Hamid-ur Rehman.
She has established an International status for her work, having exhibited in Japan, America, Zimbabwe, Bangladesh, Hongkong and England. Riffat is currently Art Director at one of the most significant galleries in the Karachi, the VM Gallery in Rangoonwala Community Centre where young, talented, city and out of town artists of promoise can introduce themselves to a wide audience of viewers. Riffat promotes the work of young artists and organises a regular series of lectures and slide shows with artists and art critics. She is also prominent in bringing work from other parts of world to Pakistan and has many links with artists and cultural institutions worldwide.
Her works are in collections in Germany, Austria, Britain, Italy, USA, India, Canada, Zimbabwe, Sweden, Hong Kong, Sri Lanka, Kenya and France. Her list of exhibitions both in Pakistan and abroad is extensive and impressive and she has traveled widely in Europe, Asia, and Africa. It was in Zimbabwe that she gained her inspiration and where she discovered the latent power of the medium of earth pigments.