Work titled Liberté et Confiance in acrylic.
Muhammad Yusuf, Features Writer
Born in Bhopal, Central India, self-taught artist Sabah Anees remembers she had a natural inclination towards various forms of art.
“I grew up in an artistic environment,” she recalls. “The only decor I saw as a child on our home walls were the exquisite paintings done by my mom.
I was also fortunate to live at a stone’s throw from Bharat Bhavan - the cultural centre at Bhopal, where I got to attend art exhibitions and witness the staging of performing arts. It inculcated in me a deep appreciation of various forms of art.” Anees’s oeuvre includes painting and jewellery design. As an artist, she has painted on glass, fabric, canvas, paper and wood, among other mediums, though she works mainly in acrylic and oil. But whatever the medium, light and colour pervade every aspect of her creations.
An artist for nearly 25 years, she has exhibited her works in Africa (Addis Ababa), Khartoum (Sudan), Kuwait, Pakistan, India and the UAE. She took part as a solo artist at World Art Dubai 2021 and 2023. Recently, she attended the Qatar International Art Festival, where she was conferred the ‘Best Live Fashion Art Award’. A recipient of the Best Visual Artist Award by Business Fair in 2023, her ‘Colours of India’ Map of India in Fluid Art was accepted by the Indian Embassy in Abu Dhabi. She has been listed in the Top 50 International Contemporary Artists Encyclopedia and her artwork titled Celestial – Dancing Auroras, is displayed at the Haegeumgang Theme Museum, South Korea. Anees believes painting is a “great window to express the good, bad and the ugly or the myriad emotions connected to relationships, social realities, experiences of life in general, with all its multifaceted and intriguing aspects.” “My inspiration comes from everything that’s around me,” she says. “People, Nature, emotions …” She would like to make a mark as an artist whose work brings happiness and positivity to all who see it. Sabah Anees responds to Gulf Today’s questions
Why do light and colour signify so much for you as an artist?
The colours I use create depth, as they are essential tools for creating the illusion of three-dimensional space on a two-dimensional surface. I use techniques such as shading, highlighting and colour gradients to suggest depth, volume, and form. By manipulating light and colour, artists can make objects appear closer or farther away, giving a sense of perspective and realism. Light and colour play a crucial role in art, as they have the power to evoke emotions, create visual interest, and convey meaning, offering a connection with viewers.
You are quite influenced by Islamic motifs, but also do abstracts. Are they linked or do they have different templates?
Islamic art has a rich tradition of geometric patterns and designs. As an Abstract painter, I have often drawn inspiration from Islamic geometric motifs. Both Islamic art and abstract paintings can evoke a sense of the divine, the infinite, or the unseen through their use of form, colour, and symbolism. Islamic art often expresses spiritual and mystical themes, while avoiding figurative representations.
Sabah Anees is based in Dubai.
You say your art shows “the good, the bad and the ugly” side of things. Can you say how it does so?
The Good in art celebrates and reflects positive aspects of humanity, society, and Nature. It portrays beauty, harmony, love, joy, and hope. I often use vibrant colours, uplifting themes, conveying positivity and feelings of happiness or awe, providing a sense of optimism. Art can also serve as a mirror to flaws, injustices, and negative aspects of life. The use of dark or sombre tones, disturbing imagery or provocative symbolism, often conveys the bad side. However, it can raise awareness and encourage critical reflection on the darker sides of human existence. Art has also the capacity to delve into the darkest recesses of human experience and confront the ugly aspects of life. It can explore themes such as violence, cruelty, suffering, despair, hurt, pain, oppression and deception. One of my artworks titled Deception is about this ugly aspect of life.
You are a jewellery designer also. Are painting and jewellery making on the same page or are they different disciplines?
Gemstones connect at an emotional level - as do my paintings. Both a painting on a canvas or a piece of jewellery, require an artistic vision and the ability to translate ideas into tangible and aesthetically pleasing creations. The intricate brushwork in a painting or the precise setting of gemstones in a piece of jewellery require patience, precision and a keen eye for detail to achieve desired outcomes. They allow for personal expression and storytelling. But they are distinct disciplines, with their own specialised techniques and considerations.
As a pillar of the Emirates art world, what is your message to emerging artists?
Firstly, congratulations on embarking on this incredible journey! But remember that artistic growth is a lifelong process; so dedicate time to developing your skills, experimenting with different mediums and exploring new techniques. Attend workshops, courses, or join an art community to learn from others and expand your knowledge. The more you invest in honing your craft, the more you’ll be able to express your ideas effectively. Stay curious and open-minded about different art forms, styles, and cultural influences. Above all, believe in yourself and your vision. Trust your instincts and follow your passion with unwavering dedication.
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