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Artistic anecdotes
by Manjula Ramakrishnan July 08, 2016
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Light N Love is an exhibition of paintings by Art Noor at Sofitel, the Palm Dubai, in collaboration with Monda Gallery. The event that will run until the end of August has some of the artist’s favourite pieces, which the artist says, he “will miss dearly once sold out.”

Noor speaks to Panorama about his work and current exhibits.

What would you call as your artistic quest?
A creative search for what lies within me or that which seeks to find a tangible expression would best describe my artistic quest. All of us have an ego or the `I’ within us that is an illusion, which is made up of experiences and memories, but is not a true representation of who we are. One of my paintings based on the verse of Rumi titled, ‘I don’t exist’ depicts this exploration with blurred and washed-out silhouettes of the seeker. My artistic quest succeeds when I hear someone say a particular painting depicts them or touches their core. The comment proves I am a part of a much larger whole and not a lonely island in the middle of nowhere.

How much of you is present in your paintings?
I do not paint from a narcissistic point of view or crave for a definitive identity, which depicts my signature or persona.  I would rather keep evolving, as I move along in this exploratory journey. I find this uncertainty exciting and look forward to the future with curious expectation and without being a prisoner of my own identity or delusional image. 

How has the artistic journey been, until now?
Like all challenging journeys, it’s been full of lessons. Almost one and a half decade later, there is not a single day when I am not learning or discovering something new. It’s like being a student progressing in the reverse direction, for the more one learns the more one feels ignorant. But today I have a much better stamina and patience with the unpredictable terrain. 

How has your art changed in terms of style and techniques?
Earlier, I was confined to a square metre of canvas. Today it varies from a square foot to a hundred square feet. I painted in acrylics in my earlier years. But then during the past years I have incorporated oils and other self-invented formulations which resulted from my experiments. I love to paint exclusively in oils mixed with powdered pigments. Also, my works have evolved to have sculptural quality in the textures, as I enjoy building them. This is probably because of the unrealised sculptor within me. 

Which exhibits are closest to your heart and why?
I have four paintings, which would be hardest to part with, once they are sold. The first is the painting ‘I Am You’ that evolved out of fantasy of a mushroom cloud made not from atomic explosion but the love for fellow humans. The connected whirling dervishes in silhouettes are in varied but harmonious colours. 

The second is the purple, blue, and pearl coloured ‘Bismillah irrahman irrahim.’ It took me almost a year to complete this work, in stages. It is the centrepiece of the exhibition and probably the most popular. ‘The centre of the heart’ was realised very spontaneously and has a small heart which looks almost pulsating. The fourth is the ‘Love Story’ which is iconic of a series that it sparked off. 

What sets off your creativity?
My creativity is derived from varied sources, many of them unexpected and random.  I am a scuba diver and the memory of diving experience lives long in my memory. The underwater colour palette is surreal and can’t be experienced on the land. 

Sometimes, limitation also becomes the inspiration. If you have only a piece of coal at hand and some red colour, you don’t need to decide on the colour palette. But it’s the mistakes and accidents, which sometimes spur me to make the best of the collateral damage. It thrills me to see a mistake or a spill transform into a beauty spot or a profound philosophical statement. Unlike life, art creates no regrets. Mistakes are opportunities to lead you to places you never thought existed.

What is the wish list for the future with your art?
Art has become an inseparable part me. I want to exhibit in fairs like Art Basel, in Switzerland and in Florida.  I want to create a collection of large-sized sculptural murals in metal. Also on cards is a documentary which I began writing last year and hope to release next year.

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