The Art Of Imagination

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Painting is not just a practice of applying colour to a surface but it is also an activity which requires a combination of drawing, composition and other aesthetic means in order to portray one's desires. Not everyone can be an artist as it involves a lot of imagination and creativity - indispensable to become an artist. There are different ways of depicting your inner thoughts through painting as it can be naturalistic, representational, photographic or abstract.

The history of the world is scattered with memorable pieces of art that are now appreciated and respected on a worldwide basis. All an artist can dream of is to have his expressive work be appreciated and one Pakistani artist who seems to have made a mark is Mehtab Ali.

Mehtab Ali is a self taught artist who is specialised in still life, landscape, portraits and cultural paintings. It is important for everyone to climb the ladder of success at the right pace and this artist in particular has had his own share of creative experiences before he reached the top.

He started his career with making illustrations for different magazines and slowly and gradually he made his place as an accomplished artist in literary circle. With five exhibitions under his belt the artist recently presented his work at the Citi Art Gallery, Clifton, Karachi.

His paintings are based on figurative work with the final product being an unrealistic impressionist style. This idealistic image is portrayed according to the artist's perception and how he wants to represent his ideas. When questioned, Mehtab Ali shared, "I wanted to show the domestic woman in my paintings, and by domestic I mean the type of dresses and jewellery the women in our country wear.

If you view my paintings you will instantly be able to spot the desi feel each piece carries." A large number of his paintings are based on women, each background pointing to a different meaning.

The paintings alone are simple and well illustrated but the quality differentiating them are the cracks drawn over the paintings. Yes, if you are assuming the cracks were present in the canvas then you are in for a surprise as each and every crack is a result of creative strokes from a thin paint brush.

The cracks make the paintings look distorted and have been added on purpose to break the continuity and to add depth to the image. Another trait in the paintings worth mentioning is the visibility of the texture in the background on the clothes of the model.

A painting of one artist can be differentiated from another through the painter's perception and representation of intensity. Each representation, however, is dependant on the artist's inspiration and the art form he chooses to follow. Mehtab Ali explained, "My inspiration is Rembrandt, one of the greatest painters in European history. His classical iconography moulded to fit the requirements of his own experience and I, to a large extent, follow his ideology of art."

Mehtab has also broken traditional style of paintings by making a self portrait in which he is shown painting a model. With all these innovative artists emerging on the Pakistan art scene, it wouldn't be much of a surprise if Pakistan ends up finding its own Cezanne or Picasso!

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