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Subtle realities

  • Published at 04:01 pm November 22nd, 2018
WT_Nov 22, 2018
Photos: Courtesy

‘For me, the conversation about art never stops’

The doors of Jatra Biroti open to welcome spectators to artist Alia Kamal’s début exhibition ‘Excerpts’. With extraordinary paintings of an ordinary reality and the warm glow of paper lanterns illuminating the premise, ‘Excerpts’ is an ongoing exhibition from November 10 to 24. 

‘I decided I’m going to stop running away from this’ 

While her love for art has been there all her life, Alia made a number of pit stops along the path to embracing her passion. But you see, art had never really left her. 

When she was studying biomedical engineering at Duke University, she took an independent course in art to make time for what she loved. When she was running tests in a chemistry lab in New York, she was simultaneously exploring the art scene there and taking courses. When she was working at Brac, she found herself gravitating towards arts education, teaching and designing courses there. When she was working a nine-to-five, her mind was overflowing with ideas of what she wanted to do with her art. And so, she decided to leave behind the rest and focus only on what she loved - art. 

Quitting her job in 2015 was quite the change of pace, but not without its fair share of challenges. It was often the case that people would assume since she no longer had fixed working hours, she had this huge expanse of free time. In reality, her art and the classes she teaches now consume her every day and she shared that she often finds it difficult to balance her art with everything else. Self-motivating was another challenge that came with this break from corporate culture. With no IDs to punch in, she relied solely on willpower, hard work and self-discipline to keep her on track. And while that might sound like a risky bet, her exhibition showed how far that has brought her. 

‘My paintings are very much placed in reality’ 

Alia Kamal’s work is heavily influenced by French Impressionism, one of her favourite movements. Citing painters such as Monet, Degas, and Manet as inspiration, she shared that the profound sadness in impressionism was alluring. Like Rembrandt, she wants to experiment with light in her work. Her art is very much about regular people and moments in their lives. 

Many of her pieces focus on girls and women, and with those she wants to move away from the hyper sexualized or traditionally feminine images that we commonly see and present a different perspective, one that explores the beauty in their reality. Even with her pieces featuring men, she chose to explore their softness, their confusion. Men have become trapped in such a culture where they are unable to express these sides of themselves and be vulnerable, and that’s what she hoped to show through her art. 

‘I want you to see yourself in my work’ 

Our culture is rich with visual language. We have become so inundated with images all the time that we no longer have the time or patience to look beyond the first glance. With her work, Alia hopes to evoke emotion and passion by exploring the subtleties of human expression. She wants on-lookers to see her art and unpack the image, she wants for them to be able to relate to the images. One of her pieces includes a painting of four girls thoughtfully looking at the moon with city lights as their backdrop, and she found it gave spectators a sense of nostalgia for days long gone with their friends. As an artist, that’s what she derives her joy from.