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Sublime sensibilities

Viewing Anwar's paintings, on show at the Apparao Gallery, is an inward, contemplative experience, and may be read as a response to the spiritual need within. A review.


IN THE lyrical abstracts by Anwar, an artist from Bhopal, space and line integrate inexplicably, bereft of allusions to representation. The picture plane is inequitably divided into two fragments, with the left side entailing less space, and yet being more worked upon, expressing every tension and feeling the artist encounters.

The two parts are metaphorically stitched together creating the feeling of tension, of being stretched tight and yet being attached. This tension, he says, "is like that which is everywhere, the tension between the earth and the moon, and that among the varied aspects in life." Anwar feels that experience and memory are important with every incident being sieved to filter only the untainted comprehension that is to be expressed on the canvas.

His feelings and experiences are articulated by the marks and scratches he transcribes onto the paper. Colour is then applied onto the surface in the form of earth pigments or dry pastels, which are rubbed into the matrix of the paper. With the union of paper and pigment, the colours are sometimes transformed. This enigmatic change of colour is exciting for he is always surprised with the final outcome, the colour becoming part of the paper itself.

He feels that colour and form are not symbolic in his work and do not stand to any reason. The letterforms and numerals mean nothing in this context, for they are ephemeral, belonging only to the moment of execution. They are forms that we put meaning to only through learning and they may in fact be equated to mere squiggles. One needs to be literate to make sense of these words, but one does not need to be literate to feel for his painting.

Colour, he feels, is not important, for it is the lines that mirror his experience, his `athma.' The lines that traverse the surface reveal his inner soul speaking of his joys and sorrows, his feelings, his very being. His painting may be experienced in varied dimensions, for they speak to the viewer just as music may be seen and not only heard. One may not connect to his thoughts but may actually relate to the colours he employs, developing a feel for his work, almost as if to fill an emptiness within.

Anwar continually reiterates that the `real' painting is inside him and that the present works are but a facsimile of the archetype within. They are works in transition, an endless expression of his search for the unique image imprinted upon his psyche. He tries to bring out his personal painting from within, it being a process of transfer from the interior to the exterior. `These works are all true copies, but not the original. When the real painting comes out from my soul I will stop working.' When he works, sublime aesthetic sensibilities come into play, for while his hand moves, he is powerless, overcome by intense feeling and prayer to find God in his painting.

Viewing his work is an inward, contemplative and chastening experience, and may be read as a response to the spiritual need within, as a response to the tumult in daily life.

There is beauty in the conflicting tensions between the organised spaces and anarchic lines. Elegantly refined colours dominate the works, and yet, they are not deficient of the primordial element seemingly inspired by the prehistoric cave inscriptions and paintings in his native State, Madhya Pradesh. The exhibition is on at the Apparao Gallery, Wallace Gardens, till December 9.

SWAPNA SATHISH

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