Thursday, 21 August 2014

Artist Should Know When to Stop

Those are wise words of US artist Abdul Badi Abdul Musawwir who was talking to the gathering at Salwa Ziedan Gallery in St. Regis - Saadiyat Island yesterday.

I arrived half an hour later because of the long drive and missed the beginning of the chat … and found everyone busy sketching something. My neighbour explained that the artist (Musawwir) asked them to get into a meditative state… 'which is nothing much... just revisit a happy memory and while staying there let your hands move… and make art', he explained.

By now my sketch pad was handed over by the gallery manager. And I started thinking of happy memories… don't know why my pet dogs and their guilty expressions came first to my mind… it made me chuckle… lifting my mood to a 'happy' place… from there my mind wandered to a friend's funny face that mimicked the dogs… and from there it went to joyous faces of my art students who were surprised at their own skills… and then to one particular blunderous fall I had near a water fountain while trying to help a crying child who seemed lost (separated from his parents)… my slip and thud made him laugh... making him look funny to the fallen me… and we both burst out in laughter forgetting our helpless situation.

And this was what came out. One continuous line that took turns and twirls as it wished

By now artist Musawwir was taking a closer look at the works by all of us. He exclaimed at each one of them. And asked each participant to explain the story behind it. A circle above a horizontal line was explained as the beautiful sunset at a participant's homeland Bosnia. A view of the ground from the air plane's wing was another participant's childhood happy memory.

"The simplicity of form and soul's connection are important aspects that create your best art," said Musawwir.

One of the participants wrote a poem in Arabic along with a neat illustration of a palm tree. This was translated by people who knew the language for the benefit of others. While translating, another artist present at the venue, could not stop himself from saying 'wow' to himself before rending the English words to the Arabic verses. The poem featured the absence and presence… referring sun, moon, dawn, dusk in a dessert. Everyone clapped.

During the interactive session some great formulae to fine art were shared. In Musawwir's words:

1. A successful artist is the one who knows when to stop. It is a divine streak that must have just flowed out through you while you were in that spiritual zone... and if you don't pause enough and look at your work you end up overdoing it, killing the masterpiece. So, step back, look and learn if it is done. It need not always be realistic or beautiful to the eye… but if it makes an inner connection. Stop!

2. Minimalism, abstract art and others are meant for the mind's eye. It is produced when there is a spiritual intervention. It never fails to connect when another soul sees it.

3. It is important that artists are formally trained in the basics because when you have the skill fluent enough, it helps the flow of spiritual process to create your own unique art.

Musawwir saw my doodle and said 'wow!'. Well that made my evening!

PS: The workshop was a peep into Musawwir's spiritual and artistic journey, taking visitors to the world of abstract Arab calligraphy and motives through what he refers to as "abstract linear Islamic expressionism".  For more details on his artists works and others… mail or call them at 02/666 96 56

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