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Realising the inner core
by Manjula Ramakrishnan June 30, 2017
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Fragrance of Faith is a solo exhibition of paintings by Art Noor on the divine subject of 99 beautiful names of Allah. 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, Art Noor’s current theme is all about fragrance, which not only looks beautiful but also feels beautiful. “The composition and texture of my work lends an unexpected dimension, alongside the rhythmic use of gestural strokes, shapes and spaces,’’ Art Noor told Panorama.

More from the interview…

What is the broader message behind Fragrance of Faith?
The message is to have faith in your inner voice and to take the first fledgling step even though the whole road or its destination is not visible. It is easy to abandon a journey in the face of difficulties. But by looking within and strengthening our inner spiritual core, we can overcome road blocks in life. Fragrance of Faith seeks to connect the heart with the divine attributes and insights. When simply stated, it is a leap of unwavering, resolute faith.

Can you explain the choice of spiritual and emotional core in your paintings?
Most tangible subjects belong to the physical world. But what fascinates me is the intangible, the mysterious and the infinitely beautiful. Beauty of the divine is intangible; we can feel its essence but cannot quantify it or confine it within a tangible space. Through my work, I attempt to connect the viewer to the truth of their own selves, while striving to be in that precise zone myself.

Why the conscious preference for large scale works?
The exhibition has 48 art works and half of these are in super large size. Scale provides me the volume and space for movements and events to take place. Large scale is challenging and provides me an opportunity to interact with the viewer on a human scale. And I love working on a canvas that I can walk through, as if it was a giant door opening into another realm.

What inspires the creative process in you?
It usually starts on focusing on the limitations at hand; for instance, a limited colour palette or a particular composition or dimension. Once these are surmounted, the creative inspiration is not limited to a single spark but is more a steady flow, which progresses as my work assumes further shape. One idea leads to another and soon there evolves this giant canvas replete with my creativity and I stop only when fully satisfied.

You are well versed in other art forms too, so why this focus on painting?
In the early years I used to prefer sculpture and then photography. But painting is more satisfying as a medium of expression. It is personal and timeless, and offers such immense variety that even charcoal creates a masterpiece on any kind of surface. This fascinates me. 

What kind of assignments do you prefer in your commissioned work?
I take whatever interests me, even if it is outside my comfort zone. My two decades in advertising helps me understand a client’s needs and taste, and translate those into artworks that provide huge satisfaction to both the client and me. I have done luxury hotel projects, grand villas for both local and international clients, and have done a diverse body of work.

What are your personal preferences with regard to medium and material?
Each has its own pros and cons. I like oils because of the pigmentation and the feel. But the drying time is too long and totally impractical, if one does not have a few months at hand to dry the painting. Acrylics are great for the quick drying time and ease of mixing. I like to work with water colours and charcoal too. I have been working with digital tech for a couple of decades and find it very productive. It is also my medium of choice on a lazy day when I have either run out of supplies or am resting from diving into wet paint.

What are your views on the current art scene in UAE?
In the past two years two major art fairs — Art Abu Dhabi and World Art Dubai — have been added to the art calendar in addition to the long-standing Art Dubai and Sharjah biennale. Many new galleries have opened up too. There is an increased awareness about art. The UAE is a great venue because of the unique diversity of nationalities that comprise the population here.

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