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Urban Interiors

Author: Marjorie Husain      Publications: The Review (p-14)      Dated: 3 Apr 1997

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A whirligig of colour, patterns, shapes and forms crowd the surfaces of Moeen Faruqis paintings, leading the eye on a merry dance. The carnival atmosphere is heightened by movement, masks and deliberate fantasy, yet the masks are unsmiling, elongated faces wrought with anxiety. Paternistic arrangements of interior images are fragmented together in a stylised system. The artists involvement with surface design is intensified in his resolve to do away with subject matter, to find liberation from themes. While drawings are consciously naive, colours are vibrant, outlines crisp. Chairs, tables, lamps and musical instruments, flat cardboard figures, play their part in a jazzy, complicated pageant.

In his work, Moeen alludes to cubism, Matisse, the African influence seen in Picassos work. Recurring black lines echoing gestural calligraphy and appearance of metal pieces offer a suggestion of traditional Islamic art – a rich brew. Moeen acknowledges many an forms, sculpture, music, mobiles, parodying the genre art of landscape art and still-life in sly references as seen in his painting: Fruit of Passion. He presents us with enigmas. There is a Lady Macbeth type cameo in which a couple appear divided by a table bearing a large dagger. The man stares ahead by the light of a candle clutched in his hand while the woman half smiles, unafraid of the spider that dangles close to her ear. Interpreting the symbolism, the viewer may concoct his own scenario.

Striving for improvisation, the artist seeks to move away from social comment, giving emphasis to colour and medium. There are hints of a multifaceted psyche. He is a published poet, educationist, critic, painter and family man. His education encompasses the California State University, and the University of Wales, but Moeen did not study art. He painted, and with little formal training, he has nurtured his talent by using it.

The artists work first saw the light of day at a group exhibition shown at the V.M. Gallery in 1990. As related by the artist, “there was a deliberate attempt to address social concerns.” Those early concerns reflected the claustrophobic limitations of urban dwelling. The constant invasion of space, mental and physical anguish generated by an inability to escape from other people. Speaking for his generation, the artist discovered escape routes, Day-dreams and unshared thoughts symbolised by interiors. Floating forms hinted at the secret lives people led, while global suburbia an endless regiment of Walter Mittys. Solo exhibitions followed in 93 and 95.

The culmination of two years work, even as we view the collection at Chawkandi Art, indicates that the artist is moving on. The frenzied visual cacophony is making way for air and space.

The work is particularly striking when rendered with oils on canvas; there is no barrier of glass to ward off the viewer.