While the art of yesteryears was easily categorised into “types”, of late one finds it difficult to label any artist or art piece. Soraya Sikandar is a prime example of this, as her landscape paintings defy categories and cross over into abstract territory. One such painting titled ‘Sunset’ was on display at the 7th Beijing International Art Biennale that took place at the National Art Museum of China.
Sikandar’s landscapes are a result of observation meeting memory. She paints actual locations that she has visited during her travels but moves beyond the cursory and infuses her works with an emotive edge. Memory is quite different from fact, relying on the mind’s eye and mostly sketched out by sentiments, so that the final product remains far from the truth yet descriptive of our inherent nature. Her memories thus turn these landscapes into abstract colours and shapes, the running drips of paint turned on their heads to define trees that cut through a fading orange sky.
Soraya Sikandar redefines landscape painting employing abstract art
While it gives an impression of the intended image, one may interpret the work as one pleases. The dusky blues and violets fading back to add a somber touch, while the bright orange provides warmth, hope and optimism. One is compelled to question whether the ray of hope will soon be extinguished or will it conquer the darkness. The title of the work provides a clue to the answer.
Sikandar is quickly becoming one of South Asia’s leading artists, mostly known for her pioneering works in the form of calligraphic landscapes. Her landscapes and nature studies go deeper than appearances, creating impressions of reality while discussing her personal views on life as well as socio-political issues plaguing our world today. Her ability to redefine landscape painting and, in a way, revive it in the modern context is what has caught the imagination of the international art community.
“Sunset” was on display at the Beijing International Art Biennale at the National Art Museum of China from September 24 till October 15, 2017
Published in Dawn, EOS, October 22nd, 2017