Art fiend: A dialogue with the master

November 29, 2015


Detail image 12
Detail image 12

“The emotion of beauty is always obscured by the appearance of the object. Therefore the object must be eliminated from the picture.” — Piet Mondrian.

In his best-known paintings from the 1920s, the Dutch artist Piet Mondrian reduced his shapes to lines and rectangles and his palette to fundamental basics pushing past references to the outside world toward pure abstraction. In his current solo show titled “Woven Narratives: Dialogue with Piet Mondrian” at the Satrang Gallery in Islamabad, miniaturist Ghulam Hussain’s work presents delightfully woven patterns and designs, building a web of tiers. In this new body of work, the artist pays homage to Mondrian, the grand master who played an influential role in the famed De Stijl movement and in contemporary art history. He has created intricate, hand-woven tapestries inspired by Mondrian’s paintings.

Hussain graduated from the National College of Arts in Lahore in 2009 majoring in miniature painting. His family is craft-oriented which was his first stimulus to create the work he does presently. His complicated yet sophisticated hand-woven Waslis along with his direct inspiration from his childhood drawings transform these abstract images into compelling compositions. Abstract art has many meanings, conceptual, intangible and also ‘simple’, whereas it is far from simple. The artist working in an abstract manner might be concerned with producing something of striking, perhaps of an elevated, beauty.

Ghulam Hussain creates intricate, hand-woven tapestries inspired by Piet Mondrian’s paintings

However, he worked in his style. Just the way Mondrian used the basic elements of painting — colour and line in their purest most fundamental state, only primary colours and non-colours, only squares and rectangles, only straight horizontal and vertical lines, the artist has clearly been influenced by the great master as is evident in his work.

While paying allegiance to Mondrian, his labyrinth-like tapestries are akin to his unique paintings. These tapestries, which appear astutely, white with incidental vertical and horizontal black lines when explored from a distance fully expose patterns of colour blocks and grids when seen from a tilt.

The Dutch artist referred to his method of painting as neo-plasticism whereby composition and geometric pattern took the limelight. Hussain has created his displayed pieces using a commemorative and noteworthy craft: the art of weaving. This fusion of lines and his imaginative dexterity combine to create unique and distinguishing pieces that stand out.

While walking around the gallery, one could easily be distracted by the hustle and bustle around but Hussain’s ode to Mondrian takes on a new life within the space.

Published in Dawn, Sunday Magazine, November 29th, 2015