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Vivid Canvases

Author: Razeshta Sethna      Publications: Friday Times (p-11)      Dated: 2 May 1997

Exhibition Navigation

Moeen Farooqis latest exhibition at Chawkandi Art Gallery interprets life and its moods through visually vivid canvases, with a focus on the human form. If we recall the staring face of Andy Warhols contemporary faces at the Guggenheim Museum in New York, it makes one marvel at the colours of life within an entire framework and the realism of the faces. Moeen Faruqi is not Warhol, yet his work embodies an element of silent reflection on certain issues, by his use of the familiar in terms of human expression, gestures and objects. He claims not to address any turbulent, or even socially provocative issues, but one wonders exactly what he is aiming to question. His use of glaring, bold yet amalgamated colours, figures and objects, form the mass of his paintings.

Titled, Objects in a Room, this painting shows a twisted guitar, a dagger, a set of blue footmarks, a tree and an upside down apple. The knife or dagger shaped object reappears again in the remotest corners of his canvases – a useful weapon if you are depicting stabbings, mutilations or the city as one huge butchers shop or a tool of hatred and revenge.

In his extensive research, Freud claimed that all unresolved conflicts and the likes could ultimately be traced to sex. Many others within psychoanalysis disagree, but the debate ensues as we examine another canvas titled, Three Notions. This is separated into three distinct vertical sections, each depicting a scene of interaction between opposite sexes.

The extensive selection of colours, shades and bold clarity of objects, rarely appears in the work of all artists. Yet the ambiguity of interpretation does stare you in the face. The mood is one of tension and silent repression infused with a potent hatred. The faces demonstrate resentment at being violated by sexual innuendo – the first section has a floating phallic symbol on the extreme right; in the midst of the canvas a man sitting complacently in a bar groping a womans breast; symbolic, presumably, of sexual energies at play coupled with the apparent rift between them in terms of real emotions of love and hatered. There is no negative positioning of imagery but a sense of life with lust, anger and love. What is it about the identity of those long faced, Egyptian looking women with round brass-like earnings and long Nephratite-like facial casts? They are not horrifying but saddened, self- absorbed and silenced to shame.

The Room has the usual upside-down heart shaped window grill with the fish (occurs in almost all his paintings) and the grim shadows pouring in through the window. lt invites the viewer to become more attached but allows him to depart but not without questioning.

Is Moeen confused about his potential as an artist, a man or a human? Why the many faces? The misplaced identities – the divided faces of man and woman (Two Views) speak of wanting to become one; a yearning to end this quest but is he trapped within a society or within himself? Another canvas portrays two distant figures embroiled in an embrace. The strange figures have a rather odd thrusting pelvic posture. The huge solitary presence of a man occupies the centre of the canvas; he stares completely dazzled, ahead of him – straight at you.

The magnetic appeal of Moeens work strongly lies in his genius to use a palette that paints the complexities of the human mind with ease and passionate veracity.