An evening with a dreamer

I met Ahmad Habib, the young artist and poet, for the first time on a solo exhibition of his oil paintings titled ‘Splash of Life’ at Nomad Art Gallery, Saidpur village. While he seemed quite busy painting, strange objects, he didn’t seemed disturbed as I kept on asking him a hundred questions about his colour compositions, his brush strokes and different objects in his paintings. In his collection of 27 contemporary paintings, each painting had a different story. But one thing was common in all his stokes- a feeling of peace, beauty and above all ‘love’. Here is my account with a dreamer:

BN: We live in a period of one of the worst socio-political crisis? Can art touch us, reach us, in the same way it once did?
AH: It sure can. All forms of art depict its time and environment. The socio-political environment leaves an impact on an artist, be it a writer, poet, sculptor or a painter, in the same way, it affects a common man. It’s just that artists are the sensitive beings. What they see, listen or feel – they express it through their works.

BN: Talking about your latest body of work, in this painting titled ‘Down to the Valley’, I see some bridges, trees, and empty spaces – what does it indicate?
AH: For me, colours are what exist in my mind; and what I absorb from nature to constitute my own inner vocabulary. In this painting, the bridges, trees, and empty spaces indicates ups and downs in man’s life. Architecture of the dwellings offers a glimpse into creativity of villagers, who design houses to their own satisfaction, keeping them as close to nature as possible.

BN: Tell us about your series of painting titled ‘With My Self’?
AH: These four paintings are dedicated to the memory of Afghan sculptor Shabgard, who was killed during the Afghan war. ‘With My Self,’ portrays the fragility of the human beings versus the sturdiness and brutality of the environment in which they live.

BN: What are some of the influences behind your paintings?
AH: When I sit down to paint mostly, I only have a dot in my mind. I just nurture it, care for it like a seedling and wait for it to sprout. And when sometimes it does sprout like a dream - I try to make my dream come true in the shape of my painting.

BN: How do you decide upon your compositions? The colours you use?
AH: Often, the most difficult part for painters is choosing the colours but I don’t put myself into the problem of choosing the colours. I just recall my dream and pick the exact colour I dreamt about. My paintings are not the slave of formal compositions which are taught in school. Most of my canvas gives empty looks, some of my critics say that my paintings give an impression of being unfinished; I never gave them any reply because they were not there when I was dreaming. I would rather say that I don’t know much about colours, because the colour tubes are easy to buy from the market and this can be done by any one who has few rupees in his pocket. You just have to press the tubes to extract these colours on your pallet and spread around with the brush. The art is not in the colours, but in my humble opinion, it is the name of articulating your feelings. So I search for my feelings. That search is the most difficult time for me. I drown in myself and try to go through what I am feeling. Some times I am successful; and some times I just retreat without any success and just wait for another revelation.

Ahmad’s paintings leave quite an impression on common people, trapped in the anguishes of day-to-day life and the unruly environment. His paintings reflect the beauty of ordinary objects, things that many of us do not care to appreciate in everyday life. Seeing his paintings is just like reading a whole new story of love, with minimum words. This is exactly his style of painting; he paints - with minimum strokes – an entirely novel story of love.

Bushra Naz

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