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Painting for the soul
by Manjula Ramakrishnan February 13, 2015
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Ruminiscence is a solo exhibition of thirty lyrical paintings by Art Noor, reflecting his admiration for the celebrated poet Rumi. What is clear from this collection is his extraordinary artistic ability to explore the mystical and the sacred, while using this creative exercise to connect with the divine.

The paintings demonstrate the diversity of his artistic endeavours and the universality of his appeal. While the muse has been Rumi’s verses, Art Noor’s work also depicts his personal reflections on life, art and identity.

The exhibition is being held at Z Gallery, Four Points Sheraton, Dubai and will run until the end of next month.

In the following interview, Art Noor talks elaborately about his work.

Can you tell us about Ruminiscence?

Rumi’s poetry has been a passion with me for more than twenty years, beginning in the early 90s when I picked up a book at Mumbai Airport. Riots raged in the city and I was stranded there for two days. By then, some of his verses had become the guiding light to my life-changing decisions. I did some canvases interpreting some of his verse into paintings, but these never left my studio.
In 2013, I started to compile a book of his selected verses and Ruminiscence is based on this. The book will be published soon, under the same title. In this current exhibition, I have focused on the verses of love, since this is the most desired and yet equally misunderstood concept in the world. Rumi’s focus on the egoless state – which is what love inspires and requires – is the subject of most of my paintings in this series.

Which of your artwork in the collection is closest to your heart?
Each piece is a potent depiction of poetry and love. But in terms of emotional content, I spent the maximum time with ‘I don’t exist.’ Yet another painting, ‘My soul is from elsewhere’ is a very inspired work, philosophically deep. ‘Be drunk in love’ is bound to be everybody’s favourite because of the colours. The ‘Mini series of five’ is a small painting, albeit with a big message.

What would you describe as your signature style?
Signature styles are more of a marketing need and not so much an artistic prerequisite. I remember reading a quote of Picasso in response to a question about what he was painting. The acclaimed painter quipped, “If I knew, I don’t need to paint it!!” I can relate to this completely. But I do agree that if a painting has nothing to say and only looks beautiful, it is beauty without brains, hence my signature style can be called “soulful,” if that can indeed be called a style.

How has your creativity evolved over the years?
My skill and patience have undergone a massive evolution and I can now work ten hours at a stretch and enjoy the journey without the preconceived notions about the outcome. I have learnt to trust my intuitive self a lot more. Becoming technically proficient has its advantages, in being able to translate the thoughts and feelings into strokes and colour.

Is your art an extension of yourself, the artist?
I am emotionally involved with the process of evolution of an artwork, which after a while takes on a life course of its own. The process is a road of discovery and surprises. I engage in a constant interaction and dialogue with my work and this lasts sometimes for weeks or months. My personality does not surface up in my work, for I would rather love a painting for what it turns out to be and not because it is an extension of my ego.

What would you call as your best inspiration and what puts you off as an artist?
The need to discover, explore and experiment is hugely embedded in my temperament and somewhere in this voyage, I keep bumping into inspirations. Paperwork and number crunching, which is the business side of art, is something I abhor and wish they would disappear.

How can art be made more affordable to the common man?
Signed Giclee prints by the artist would be the best way to have a piece of the artist and the art and almost anyone can afford these. The quality of these prints is phenomenal thanks to modern imaging technology. The prints are inexpensive and are supposed to last hundreds of years.

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