+Media - Artistic Anecdotes
Interview by Majula Ramakrishnan
Published on July 08 - 2016
Light & Love in an exhibiton of paintings by Art Noor at Sofitel - the Palm Dubai - In colleaboration of French owned Monda Gallery.
Noor Speaks to Panorama about his works and current exhibits
Is it a part of you that gets translated on to your canvas?
Search for what lies within me, or that which seeks to find a tangible expression, I think would better describe my artist quest.
All of us have an Ego, or what we consider as ‘I’ is an illusion, made up of experiences and memories, which I think, are not true representations of who we are. One of my paintings based on the verse of
of Rumi, titled “I don’t exist” depicts this exploration by blurred and washed out silhouettes of the seeker. Another painting in the same series, “I Am You”, also emphasizes this desire for reaching an egoless state, and transcending the limitations of our physical being.
When one of first abstract painters of last century, Wassily Kandinsky wrote, "The artist must train not only his eye but also his soul", he probably was referring to this quest. We connect to others, by jumping across these boundaries of our ego. Sometimes imagining, how others would feel
or think. My usual spontaneity is a result of a lack of self-consciousness while I paint. It can also represent the inner truth, which one was to consider it an expression. Once out on the canvas, it doesn’t remain to be only mine but belongs to all those connect with my art. 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 much larger whole, and not a lonely island in the middle of nowhere.
How much of you do you see in your paintings?
In my current exhibition, I had about a dozen people choose different paintings, which were their favorite. Which intrigued me, but it was a proof of the unique perspectives of individuals. I concluded if I could connect to those, then perhaps, I was succeeding at not being me.
I don’t paint from a narcissistic point of view, or crave for a definitive identity, which depicts my signature or persona. Even though it might be contrary to commercial realities of the art market.
I would rather keep evolving, as I move along on this exploratory journey. And share the experiences through the travelogues in paint. I find this uncertainty exciting and look forward to the future with curios expectation.
This point of view gives me great freedom, to experiment and be true to the moment. Without being a prisoner of my own identity or delusional image. One of the verses of Rumi, which I absolutely love is, “Live where you fear to live, Destroy your reputation, Be notorious.” With this attitude you can never be enslaved by the prison of your own making. It is a great guiding metaphor to push your boundaries, and go as far as your potential will take you.
How has the artistic journey been from the time you started 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. More one learns, more one feels ignorant. But today I have a much better stamina, and patience with the unpredictable terrain.
When I began, I had the creativity of innocence fueling my inner engine. Today, it is the disciplined passion for discovery which is the motivating factor. And perhaps I have become more adept at taking whatever means are available to ride on. Without regrets.
But unlike other professional journeys, it has no destination or an end. This journey is an end in itself. I don’t look forward to arriving somewhere and then say, I have arrived. Rather, keep travelling and send the picture postcards from the places I visit and discover.
What changes have you seen in your art during this period? ( in terms of techniques, choices etc)
One of biggest changes lately has been the scale of my works. I was usually confined to a square meter of canvas, in my earlier years. Today it varies from a square foot to a hundred square feet.
The second important change has been with the media. I painted in Acrylics in my earlier years. But then during the past years have incorporated Oils, and other self-invented formulations which resulted from my experiments. I love to paint exclusively in Oils mixed with the powdered pigments, if I can find the materials, and there is no issue with drying time for the client.
Also, my works have evolved to have sculptural quality in the textures, as I enjoy building them and the use underpainting frequently in my heavily layered works. This is probably because of the unrealized sculptor within me. I have been wanting, to build sculptures, in steel and ceramics on a much larger scale than previously attempted by me. Since it needs both a client and a commission to undertake the expensive cost of the construction and materials, I express some of my sculptural urges on the canvas, via the texture.
Can you tell us about your exhibits in this event?
This collection of the exhibits, has a variety of the scale, varying from small one square foot paintings to the mega sized Eighty square feet triptychs. Unusual curatorial schematics, both by style and color palette.
True to the title of the exhibition ‘Light N Love’, it brings together Rumi’s love poetry with the Light of the creator’s names, in the abstract expressionistic depiction. The movement and intensity of the collection conveys the spirit of the subject. The energy of Love finds expression with the Light of the faith.
Both Light and Love show you the way when darkness is all around. That is the underlying motive of the exhibition, and the event. To share the faith and love, which are interconnected. And yet grossly misunderstood within the chaos, which seems to be challenging both our inner and physical realms.
One of the most often heard comment during this event was the feeling of peace and harmony that the exhibits inspired in the hearts. This was my desired goal both for the event and exhibits. I wanted to reinforce these values both within myself and the visitors. I am grateful, the result turned out to be true to its purpose and essence.
Every creator will have his own favourites. Which exhibit is closest to your heart and why?
I have four paintings, which would be hardest to part with, once they are sold.
The first being the painting, ‘I Am You’ evolved out of fantasy of a ‘mushroom cloud’ made not from ‘atomic explosion’ but of the love for fellow humans. The connected whirling dervishes have lost their physical bodies and their silhouettes are in varied but harmonious colors. It is a concept which must become reality someday. I wish I live to see it, one day.
The second is the purple, blue, and pearl colored “Bismillah irrahman irrahim” It took me almost a year to complete this work, in stages. It the centerpiece of the exhibition and probably most popular for people’s choice for their selfies.
‘The center of the heart’, was realized very spontaneously, and has a small heart, which looks almost pulsating. It looked passionate from the moment it came into existence and has been beating ever since. I wish it stays alive for centuries to come.
The fourth is the “Love Story”, which is iconic of a series which it sparked off. I am working on another series of poetic works, and I look forward to showing them sometime next year. But this painting will always be special for the doors it opened in my own heart.
What is the toughest part about creating a painting? Is it developing the concept, getting it finished to satisfy your creativity or is it the sheer effort of ensuring your thoughts on canvas reach the viewer standing in front of your mounted painting?
For me, the hardest part of creating a painting is washing the brushes and cleaning up the mess after the deed is done. LOL. Developing the concept is the most fun part. In the sense, I enjoy the process to see a painting evolve itself and tell me what it wants to be. Sometimes I have to just get out of its way, and allow it to become what it will. Almost like allowing a child, in the process of acquiring a unique personality.
One of my biggest fears is to exceed my scope and destroy the wonderful raw narrative which it starts to reveal by trying to finish it a bit more than necessary. A few zealous strokes later, one can’t usually go back. There is no seamless in undo button in painting. It may become something else, but one can’t get back to where one stood a few minutes ago. In the past, I have lost some wonderful paintings at the finishing stage. But have learnt to be extremely careful as I reach for the conclusive strokes.
I don’t worry much about the viewer’s reactions, if my process and statement is in sync with my feelings. Every viewer approaches an abstract expressionist painting from a unique point of view, and interpretive mechanism. If it does not connect with one, but may connect with someone else, and become their favorite.
What inspires you as an artist and what dampens your creativity?
My inspiration comes from varied sources. Many of them unexpected and random. Nature is a great inspiration in every sense of the word. I am a scuba diver and the memory of diving experience lives long in my memory. The underwater color palette is surreal, and can’t be experienced on the land. The surprise movements of those colors by the moving fish leaves a very hypnotic impression on me like a dynamic artwork, forever in motion.
Sometimes, limitation also becomes the inspiration. If you have only a piece of coal at hand and some red color, you don’t need to decide on the color palette. It’s given and what you do and don’t do with it determines the outcome.
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 as per you is your signature style?
As I mentioned, earlier, I don’t want to be a prisoner of a signature style. Style, mediums, language and subjects can change. But the core essence of my work is soulful. You have to look deep and long at my work, and probably allow your own soul to speak to you to connect with it. This happens because, I never paint in an uninspired state of mind. If I don’t have an urge. I don’t paint. I go for a walk, meditate, or just do the mechanical tasks, till I have a calling within, which prompts me to begin or continue. The dialogue within, works as the music, and provides me the rhythm. And perhaps that is reflected in my works, irrespective of the genre and style.
What is the best way for art to reach the common man who cannot afford a high price that normally goes with art pieces?
The best starting point is. Prints. The quality of the prints has become very good lately, and has begun to rival the original works. Collecting the signed prints of an artist, is a great way to begin and build a collection.
I myself started to make and sell prints of my works, about six months ago, and the result is very encouraging. My single outlet at Dubai Mall, is Monda Gallery, inside Kinokunia. Just a month ago, they requisitioned more than a hundred prints from me due to the depleted stocks and huge demand. I also plan to make the prints available through my site, artnoor.ae for the international markets.
Once one has started to collect the prints, then one can move to a lower priced works, offered by
Many artists from time to time, to either clear their inventory, or expand their reach. One must keep in touch with the artists and register on their sites and social media. It puts you in the art loop, and informed, about the opportunities to acquire works, which will appreciate in time.
Where do you see your art leading you in the immediate future?
I don’t know, if I can predict even the next month and the future can be full of surprises. All I can say, art has become an inseparable part me. Whether, I lead it to come with me to the future, or it leads me somewhere I have never been, remains to be seen.
My wish list is rather long. Let’s see what manifests. I want to publish the second 99 book, in a larger size, and in three languages. I want to exhibit in fairs like Art Basel, in Switzerland and Florida. I want to do make a collection large sized sculptural murals in metal. Also on cards is a documentary which I began writing last year, and hope to release it next year.
But I am happy painting and living in the U.A.E, if that is what Allah wills.
Art Noor's SpiritFest99 at DFC
This year, Aslam Noor, widely known as Art Noor has set a gigantic 10m x 2m canvas at Dubai Festival City Mall, and undertaken to Live Paint not only one but 4 of those during the month of Ramadan.
Art Noor's SpiritFest99 at Dubai Festival City
This year, Aslam Noor, who widely known as Art Noor has set a gigantic 10m x 2m canvas at Dubai Festival City Mall, and undertaken to Live Paint not only one but 4 of those during the month of Ramadan.
The Ramadan inspired LED show that Noor designed and produced for Burj Khalifa depicting the divine names, which was chosen to be played on the façade of the world’s tallest tower many times in the evening, during the whole month of Ramadan.
Celebration of "The Eternal Life"
The rhythm of life is expressed through colour harmonies and contrasts. "It is a ceaseless flow. Old leaves die, new ones take their place. Emotions, passions, and vulnerabilities coexist on the canvas and across many canvases."
"Retrospective" at Studio 7 Gallery
At “ArtNoor Retrospective” visitors featured a wide genre of artworks that Noor has created, shedding light on the Artists Journey and for the first time a show has been so integrally planned to engage visitors.
For two consecutive years 2018 & 2019, Burj Khalifa showcased Art Noor's 99 Names of Allah series of paintings, via the multiple LED shows, that ran every day for the whole month of Ramadan. Noor reveals his insights in the interview with Art & Lusso.
The Inner Core
Being held at St Regis Dubai until July 2, the exhibits consist mainly of large scale works both in size and depth.Emphasising the need for learning to love one another.
Artistic Anedotes @ the Palm Dubai
Light & Love in an exhibiton of paintings by Art Noor at Sofitel. the Palm Dubai - In colleaboration of French owned Monda Gallery.
Noor Speaks to Panorama about his works and current exhibits.
Fragrance of Faith
Art Noor broke away from his highly successful corporate career in advertising in 2002 to dedicate his time to art, and more particularly, to all topics related to the Creator, and Love.
Inspired by Divinity
"One of the great lessons painting can teach you is not to be afraid of making mistakes. Every mistake is a doorway which leads to some
discovery. Every flawed attempt gets one closer to the desired outcome " Art Noor shares his process of creating.
Alive & Sublime 99
Alive and Sublime 99 shows by Art Noor – The latest Exhibition of paintings, Inspired by the glorious names of Allah at Dubai Mall and Marina Mall, have been on display through Ramadan,
Painting the Soul
Ruminiscence is a solo exhibition of thirty lyrical paintings by Art Noor, reflecting his admiration for the celebrated poet Rumi.
The paintings demonstrate the diversity of his artistic endeavours and the universality of his appeal.
The Anatomy of Fragrance
"He experiments with various styles and techniques and uses, for example, both wash and hard brushstrokes. But the spiritual dimensions of his work are selfevident, whatever the medium or technique."
Solidarity, to help rebuild Kerala
".. Art Noor, famous for his abstract paintings based on Arabic calligraphy of Allah's
beautiful names, has offered one of those paintings or the cause."
Sailing in the Same Boat at #RAKFAF
Aslam (Art) Noor’s ‘Sailing in the Same Boat’ that started out as a live painting project in Abu Dhabi on a four-part canvas measuring 4mx1.5m. Reinterpreting the natural shape of the UAE map as a large dhow, sailing with many nationalities on board.
Wings of Light
Perhaps this is what Noor’s mission is. To touch the hearts with interpretations of the divine attributes through his memorable strokes of emotion and faith and put them in touch with the sacred within.