Nazia Haque Oni’s Interview: Doctor drawing diseases


Nazia Haque Oni is a doctor and the Assistant Director in Green Life Medical College Hospital. Apart from her medical profession, she has a great passion for arts. The Design Magazine team came to know about her through her paintings. She runs a Facebook page ‘Onnesha’ for psychological counselling. Nazia talked to us in an interview recently about her works and passion. The excerpt of the interview is as below:

Why do you paint?

Well, I paint because I love to. It is not that I always love painting. I would rather say, it is always not necessary to love what you paint. I believe this is just a means of portraying or bringing out the untold and difficult emotions that come from the deep of my heart.

Maybe I find it easier sometimes to just draw some lines on a piece of paper rather than saying anything to anyone. The urge to express the voice coming from your heart is the ultimate reason to create an art- for me to start moving the pencil on a piece of paper.

How did you get into painting?

At the age of 3 or 4, I guess, since I first held the pencil.
I can remember one incident. It was the day of my admission in school. I had to write the English alphabets on the answer sheet. I filled the sheet with colourful drawings instead. To my great surprise till the date, I passed the test and got admitted to the school.

What do you use for painting?

I used Adobe Photoshop and some 3D designer tools like Maya for digital drawing once. But when it comes to traditional tools, I prefer Pencils such as lead pencils of all sorts, marker pens, colour pens and so on. I do not use water or oil based colours as I prefer to avoid the mess it may do to my floor. Apart from that I do not like to be controlled by my tools while painting.

Where can we find your paintings?

I upload my paintings on my Facebook profile and I also have a page named “Oni’s Arts” where you can see most of my works.

Tell us about the subject of your painting..

I used to draw portraits. Then I started illustrating people’s feelings, thoughts and their expressions of emotions. Mostly those emotions are negative emotions, the darkness within, the pain and struggle hidden from the world. I didn’t choose this topic, it just happened. I feel comfortable putting an effort to bring out those emotions on art paper. Sometimes I fail, sometimes succeed. I try to see people’s emotions as it is, unfiltered. That might depict them in a bit raw and harsh way. It is more important to share your pains than your happiness. Happiness does not damage you, but pains do.

Describe three of your favourite paintings..

I could not create my most favourite piece yet. I would, however, love to mention about “Broken”, “Bad Habit” and last but not the least “Shameless”.

‘Broken’ is about a person who is broken in the pain of loss of his sanity.

‘Bad habit’ is about a couple who are sitting together yet not dating. Because they have quite opposite of emotions for each other. The man loves the woman so much that he would do anything for her. He is seen presenting his brain to the woman as a sign of his true love. Being a Doctor I know the feelings reside within the brain (not heart). The woman, on the contrary, is careless enough to use his empty cavity of head as an ashtray. She couldn’t care less! The interesting part about this painting is, both of the characters depicted me. I believe it can be anyone else to behave exactly opposite at a certain stage in their life.

For me the Man illustrates the old me while the female character is me currently. Also, the painting gives us a lesson that loving someone beyond one’s limit is bad. Being reluctant and careless is equally bad as well.

The final one is ‘Shameless’. This is about the courage one has to have to be honest to himself. Almost everyone around us wears a mask in one way or another to some extent to hide something. Some people may say it is for the betterment. But what I believe is no trauma, pain or shame should be kept hidden in fear of being judged.

That is what I tried to show that it is much easier to open up physically than mentally. It is more difficult to come out of the social stereotype and be open. Everyone has secrets. Opening up to others only makes you relieved and calm.

It motivated me to work on mental illness and psychological issues. I started drawing some of the illnesses last year October as “Inktober 2018” where you can find a glimpse of how people suffer in those diseases.

[ these three paintings can be found in Nazia’s facebook profile ]


Tell us about Onnesha..

I have been observing the ugly and dented face of people and society since my childhood. I saw the dark side of their physical and mental illness. The physical illness is addressed quiet openly and approached easily in our society while the mental ones still stay tabooed and stigmatized, even to this day.

We hear of murder, rape and road accidents every day. We halt for a moment, take a look at the news, discuss over it on social media and forget. We then go back to our routine life.

It seems the whole nation is suffering from short term memory loss. Technology has blessed us in so many ways but also has taken away our sense of empathy to others. We do not react or protest against the problem. We do not step forward to make things better.
I wanted to create a platform where people would come to share their problems or mental issues without any fear of being judged. They will not expect anything in return except empathy and support from each other. The purpose was to provide mental health support for all by recovering them from the root of their problems.

For instance, no suicide takes place overnight. It is just like a physical illness that worsens in course of time if left untreated. My objective was to find the root of the problem, to strengthen the person suffering from it, to help them cope and to solve it if possible.

How painting is related to mind?

Before any other language was emerged, people used to draw pictures on cave walls to express themselves. Therefore, it will not be wrong if one says that this is the purest form of language that comes from one’s soul. I also believe there is no good or bad art as long as the effort is there. Any piece of art is the brainchild of an artist that is born from the depth of one’s spirit.

Who is your favourite painter?

Everyone is my favourite. There are some artists who truly motivate me in my artist’s block or depression. They inspire me to start again like Freddo. He is a hero for me.
I also like Shawn Coss. Above all, Sir Zainul Abedin is my role model. He is the first to portray pains of the people in an outstandingly perfect way.
Among the contemporary painters I like Asifur Rahman for his caricatures and Sayeef Mahmud aka ‘Inksmith’.

Who is your favourite author?

I am a Humayun Ahmed fan. His ‘Kani Daini’ was the first book I read in childhood. I also read Muhammed Zafar Iqbal’s Sci-Fi and Ahsan Habib’s humorous stories.

What is your favourite movie?

There are hundreds. Horror is my favourite genre. They are the foods for my brain. That sheer fear after watching horror movies give me goose bump and thrills. It also motivates me to draw twisted and dark human emotions.

Why should a person be interested in painting?

Let me tell you something. We go through a lot of pains, negative emotions or resentment every day. Sometimes, we cannot express our joy properly. Words may not be enough to express exactly what you feel. Painting is a wonderful way to let go of the grudge or other negative thoughts one might have in one’s head. One may even do it just for relaxation. It always helps.


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