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A Touch of the Mystical

Author: Zephyr      Publications: The Star (p- 4)      Dated: 23 Jan 1986

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There has always been a touch of the mystical in Mussarat Mirzas work. Delicate nuances of line on line, tone on tone, deepen into cave-like images, bursting into clouds of vibrating colour. Liberated from the appearance of the tangible, her work now speaks of an imagined universe and there, and burst into clouds of vibrating colour, elsewhere.

Personal

There has always been a touch of the mystical in Mussarat Mirzas work. Delicate nuances of line on line, tone on tone, deepen into cave-like images, bursting into clouds of vibrating colour. Liberated from the appearance of the tangible, her work now speaks of an imagined universe and there, and burst into clouds of vibrating colour, elsewhere.

There has always been a touch of the mystical in Mussarats work and now this aspect seems to have come into its own. Liberated from the appearance of the tangible, her work now speaks of an imagined universe, a visual order created from chaos. There are subtle resemblances to landscapes and skyscapes, but these grow out of the viewers personal encounter with the works. The encounter is, in this case a lyrical and sensuous one, which is of course linked to aspects of Mussarats earlier work. Her application of oil paint was always tactile in feeling and sensuous to the eye, her colours always lyrical, and her new landscape melodies retain these qualities in their essence.

Mussarat Mirza has been teaching at the fine art department in the University of Sind, Jamshoro for more than a decade. Her work has been exhibited in all major cities in Pakistan and she has held nine solo exhibitions. Her work has represented Pakistan in many exhibitions abroad and has been recently selected for the Dhaka and Delhi Triennials. She received an ILO award for her painting in 1971.

Mussarat Mirza has always been known as a “mood” painter. Her strangely textural, painterly works have had as their subject the environment and people of Sind. The urban roof-tops, the villages at dusk, the rivers at dawn, the women and children at street and village corners, the shadowy doorways, the sunlit windows, all these were the stuff of her pictures. But Mussarat always brought to these images a sensibility which went beyond the obvious, which was never content with the surface, the outward appearance. Even her earlier semi-cubist phase attempted at examining the depths of her feelings that were the source of her inspiration and an inner strength.

Medium

Her work of the seventies matured into simpler canvases, with single images, a deserted stairway, a shadowy street, a cloister of draped women, inhabiting the surface of the picture in an intensely personal way. Her colours changed from the earth tones of the early works to a more personal palette of glowing jewel like colours.

Her latest paintings are a definite departure from all she has done so far. She says “I was so tired of oils; half finished paintings lined my walls, and I was unable to work on them. I was overcome by a sense of solitariness. I needed some sort of a turning point, and I found it almost by accident when I started on water colour – there was an immediate chemistry between the medium and me.”

And certainly, the medium has changed from her heavily worked impasto oil paintings to the new delicately executed water colours. She has called this new series “Melody of Landscape”.

The transparency of pigment which is the essence of water colour is very apparent, and the colours flow across the paper leaving traces of the brush.  Delicate nuances of line on line, tone on tone, deepen into cave-like images here Mussarats latest paintings are a definite departure from all she has done so far. She says: “I was so tired of oils; half finished paintings lined my walls, and I was unable to work on them. I was overcome by a sense of solitariness. I needed some sort of a turning point, and I found it almost by accident when I started on water colour – there was an immediate chemistry between the medium and me”.