My memory takes me back to the age of 5, when I had successfully acquired a drawing of a boy. The boy was sitting on his bed looking out his window to the sky. The sky was filled with twinkling little stars and a big bright moon. It was done by a neighbor I had at the time. I remember being enthralled by how intricately he drew the picture and how brightly he colored it. Once I had pasted the drawing on my door with my favorite lip-gloss, I stood back and told myself, “I wanna draw just like that”.
Growing up I was a troublemaker. I remember throwing a brick from the 5th floor at some guy’s head. No, it was not intentional. I just wanted to know what it was like to throw one from that height. What I ended up gathering is that my actions affected other people and always had consequences. Unlike how curiosity killed the cat, I did not die. I only got smacked a couple of times. As it had turned out in the end, the man I “hit” probably never existed. It was just one of my mother’s ploys to teach me that it was not right to throw a brick, at anything or anyone. My mother always taught me empathy. I had a severe lack of it and I need to give it to her, she really worked hard to make me care about other people. She must be proud today because I now care more about others than myself. I don’t know if that’s a good or bad thing but I suppose it’s better than not being able to care.
From all the experience I’ve gathered over the years I believe the time I had spent trying to understand people has played a great role in influencing my art. I have not only grown as a person but I have also learnt more about various emotions and how one emotion can’t exist without another. I like to bring that about in my paintings. More than just having a nice composition, I like my work to have meaning. Once I am able to execute my thoughts on my art, I feel satisfied. And that feeling on its own helps me through the worst of days.
By now, I believe it’s clear that I have always had a pull towards art. More than that, I was always drawn to dark, muted yet bright colors. I loved admiring paintings and was always curious to know the stories that it hid behind their colors. Back in 2003 or 2004, the homes that I remember visiting had beautiful landscape paintings. There was one in particular that I remember seeing, that was of the time when the sun had just set but night had yet to fall. It was composed in a rural setting. There were two river banks, both facing one another, a distinct tree and disappearing distant villages comprised of dark, muted oranges, browns and yellows. The dim yellow light in the room made the painting appear even more gothic and mysterious. I am not sure if what I was feeling influenced by the fact I was hurt, because the big kids of the house wouldn’t let me play with them or because I was really bored and my parents were busy talking to other parents. Regardless, I remember that painting keeping me company till dinnertime and I remember feeling an air of peace flow all through me as I plopped on the sofa to look at it some more.
Around 2007, I had started art-school with my best-friend. I thought it was a great way to spend time with her, all the while having fun with paint! Honestly, at that age, we cared less about painting and more about who wore the best outfit and what kids at school were saying or doing. I had the best time meeting amazing artists at my class and for the first time, I wasn’t just a child. At art class, no one was old, no one was young, no one was big and no one was small. People older than my parents and people younger than me were all sitting together in one area sharing food, paint and laughs, every single class. Our teacher, Swapan Chowdhury sat us down and taught us together. We’d learn about figure drawing, portrait drawing, sculpture and what not. I think I felt the most liberated as a human during my first ever visit to his class. I was probably till his knees when I asked him, “What should I do?” He replied, “Oil-painting”. I gasped and was very happy because I saw older students using that medium. I felt like a total grown-up and to 8 year old me, that was very liberating.
My style is definitely heavily influenced by my teacher. His works are very fresh, impressionistic and surreal. The first time I got introduced to abstract art, I remember him telling us we can make the drawings personal to ourselves by hiding in messages inside it. He proceeded to write a name and then extending the lines from the letters, he created a bird and a lady. It was the most wonderful thing I had ever learnt. What he did was abstraction. A form of art I never knew existed. It felt like a magician had let us in on the secret to an amazing trick! From that day on, my friend and I were inspired to make abstract art a new thing amongst each other.
After a few years of not taking painting as seriously, I was finally concentrating. I spent time trying to understand color and composition. At that time, whatever I ended up making looked very complicated and it failed to express any meaning I had planned it to have. It just looked like a bunch of colors, objects, intricate designs and shapes, without any correlation with one another. Eventually, after getting the advice of an older student who said, “If the entirety of your painting is full of detail and you leave no room for space, where will the person viewing focus?” It had affected my art a lot and I began focusing on the main message than the entire drawing and all its parts. My drawings became a tad simpler and much toned down, eventually transforming into what it is now.
My work is a blend between cubism and surrealism. In a cubist artwork, objects are broken up, analyzed and reassembled in an abstracted fashion. Instead of presenting an object from a single perspective, the job is to present it from multiple perspectives to shed a unique light on the subject in a greater context. A surrealist artwork on the other hand, seeks to challenge the unconscious mind, to unlock its mysteries and to give more power to imagination. I like to think of it as surreal realism. That is what it is essentially. It is not rational. It is powered by psychoanalysis and hopes to give more power to imagination to free the mind from repression. Basically, there’s a lot more to the world than just blacks and whites. Surrealism goes deeper to show the blacks, whites and all of its other spectrums in full bloom so we not only see it as what it is but more. When the two concepts are blended together, my work is born.
Anything can be accomplished. One does not need to be born with much to become good at something. Taking the first step and keeping those feet running on the road without stopping for too long is going to lead somewhere. Starting your art journey is not supposed to be very difficult. Try picking up a pencil today and draw something. Anything you see in front of you or anything you feel. Try to add meaning to a memory and shape it on paper. Make it your subject and draw it the best you can. Do it a few times and prepare to shock yourself with what you always had in you. Use your pencil like a wand and add magic to your life !
– Nazifa Noor