The pandemic is not going away anytime soon, but artist Sameena M Karim feels that it has a silver lining for her. "I concentrated more on my artworks during the pandemic than I did pre-coronavirus," Sameena told The Business Standard.
The prominent painter and sculptor's fourth solo art exhibition started on August 1 and will continue till August 15.
Just like the other art exhibitions held lately, this one is also being held virtually. The artist believes art exhibitions cannot be put on hold due to the pandemic. "The show must go on, and collectors should not detach themselves from the art arena come what may," Sameena opines.
Out of her collection of 75 paintings and sculptures, TBS has picked five of the handpicked pieces - decided on by the artist herself.
"Adam and Eve"
The pen on paper artwork is about the eternal love between Adam and Eve. Sameena made this painting while the nationwide shutdown was in motion. "I wanted to highlight the affection between human souls through this painting," says Sameena.
She thinks that during this trying time, affection is seemingly in decay in the society. "But I strongly believe that the spirit of love always lies within our hearts, so to speak. My painting was a reflection of it," she added.
Haiku is a series of paintings Sameena did. Sameena's cat was named Haiku, who unfortunately died by falling off a balcony.
"I dearly miss my cat Haiku, who I treated not as an animal, but like my own child," said an emotional Sameena. The artist was primarily a sculptor until her cat's death pivoted her towards painting after a hiatus.
The painting is accompanied by a poem, which Sameena thinks will help the audience understand the emotion expressed through art. The pen on paper artwork is surely best understood while reading the poem.
"The Lonely Damsel"
While talking about this terracotta sculpture, Sameena tried to remind us that "tepa" - a distinct form of clay toy, has become almost extinct in rural culture nowadays. "I wanted to put this into perspective that tepa clay dolls are rarely seen these days. As an artist, I wanted to bring this folk relic to the fore," Sameena says.
The artist has used some fusionwork in this sculpture while tutelaging the signature "head" design of tepa. However, she also has worked on a series of paintings of the same name. The paintings represent the lonely battle of womanhood.
"I love children, I have loved children before I even became a mother myself," Sameena said while describing her sculpture "Matrika" (motherhood).
This sculpture speaks of the undying bond between a mother and her child. It is a testament to the divine love of a mother, and also reflects the art of being a mother. Matrika was sculpted in ceramic.
"Transformation of Gender"
This is arguably the most thought-provoking series of paintings done by Sameena. The drawing on canvas painting illustrates a person with gender defying features.
"I have known some people and close acquaintances, who were subjected to gender transformation as an act of nature," Sameena said, adding, "The society is unforgiving towards those who defy the so-called "gender norms".
"This is horrendous that we, as a whole, try to corner them as human beings." The artist thinks this painting is her medium of speaking up against it.
How significant can an art exhibition be during a time of global crisis? As we tossed this question to Sameena, she reminded us of the legendary works by Zainul Abedin during the famine of 1943.
"Zainul Abedin embraced the essence of famine in his paintings, which went on to become every art collector's dream," Sameena voiced, reminding us about the importance of art during a crisis.
"You see, pandemics or famines don't come every year, or every decade. But when it comes, it takes a heavy toll on human lives," Sameena said, adding, "Collectors should support the arts created during this time. Who knows, some of the artworks might stand the test of time in this pandemic."