Astute brushstrokes, applied with verve and panache, mingle together in a multitude of vibrant colours as an imposing dream-stricken visage stare from the canvas. Simple grid pattern of primary colours interspersed with a submersed face, slowly and gradually emerging into this world from a dream. The surging passion of the execution of the painting Dream Face-2 reverberates in tincture and tone of the exhibits of Syed Iqbal’s 18th solo, My Broken Mind.
Iqbal has developed a forceful and dynamic style, that seeks to comprehend the meaning of life through fragmented, fractured, broken, elliptical images. Conceived poetically, his paintings spring from the intersection of reality and dream and carry the viewers along, as though on a gently flowing stream.
Vassily Kandinsky once said, “Art is like religion. Its evolution is not a question of new discoveries that sweep away ancient truths, but of sudden revelations, like bolts of lighting, and explosions that burst in the sky like fireworks, spreading a bouquet of stars in multiple flashes.” For Iqbal, images and symbols are revelations. They appear in our dreams in multiple flashes.
The artist is sometimes rueful, whimsically philosophical. He teases the viewer with provocations and paradoxes. For example, the painting, God has No Religion, depicts symbols of all major faiths around a one-eyed face (perhaps of the God almighty) in arresting blue. The face at the centre of the composition appears perplexed and confused.
He is restless and exudes a kind of raw energy. Vibrant colours in their dramatic intensity help channelise this energy in the Mindscape series.
This exhibition might as well be named Dear Life instead of My Broken Mind, because it is Syed Iqbal’s lust for life that still gets him going strong at mid-sixties. He is still teeming with energy and excitement, eager to give expression to the fragments of images and symbols jostling and hustling in his subconscious.
The show, held at the Cedar Ridge Creative Centre in Toronto, Canada, has been curated by Ali Adil Khan, who is the founder and director of the SAGA Foundation and the South Asian Gallery of Art in Toronto. SAGA Foundation is the lead sponsor and presenter of the show as well.
Ziaul Karim is an editor and art critic. He lives and works in Bangladesh.