Interview: Sumaira Aamer
Luca Curci talks with Sumaira Aamer during FUTURE LANDSCAPES, third appointment of BORDERS Art Fair 2020, at Palazzo Albrizzi-Capello.
Sumaira Aamer is a Qatar based visual artist. She received her MFA with honors from Pakistan in 2002. Sumaira majored in Painting and kept Traditional Miniature Painting style with contemporary subjects as a preferred medium of expression for most of her artworks. Sumaira has got exceptional energy, employs a calculated composition style, yet she is experimental with her conceptual pieces, dedicating a perfectionist approach to her work. Her color pallet stays exclusive for each body of work. During MFA degree, Sumaira worked in a variety of genres. She believes that insights in art are supported by a multi-disciplinary practice and she finds that her work in one discipline has influenced her work in another. Therefore, Sumaira does not hesitate to shift between mediums of expression and strongly believes that through the beauty of integrating different mediums, one can create masterpieces. Alongside her MFA degree, she also worked under the mentorship of a very well renowned artist from Pakistan. Keeping in mind the ever-evolving trends and times, Sumaira did not limit her work to traditional art but acquired digital art studies as well, which further gave her the tools to expand her composition and design studies in the product design field. Sumaira’s love for Miniature Painting, including her own approach to this traditional art style, grew ever stronger with time, more so because of her Pakistani roots. Still, it has remained a distinctive feature of her artworks for the uniqueness and the delicacy of the technique that she employs, portraying contemporary subjects to pose a contrast. Her works in oil paints have also dominated the other mediums for an interpretation that synthesizes the essence of the subject with the qualities of abstraction with strong symbolism, textures and bold colors. For Sumaira the inspiration and thought process not only comes from cultures, identities and people but also from social and political issues of the times. Her most admired art pieces are from Miniature Painting technique and Oil paints alike. She has exhibited her artworks at various galleries globally and most recently in Italy and Qatar.
Luca Curci – What is art for you?
Sumaira Aamer – Art is a form of expression. It is a statement by the artist which evokes emotions, compels the viewer to interpret the hidden ideas and feel the emotions that an artist wants his viewers to feel. Art is all about giving one’s thoughts, a body and a form for conveying the message through colors, lines, shapes and symbolism. I believe art is created to help people not only get to know and understand the world with their minds but also to feel it emotionally and physically.
LC – What’s your background? What is the experience that has influenced your work the most?
SA – I am a Qatar based visual artist, residing in Qatar for over 10 years, originally from Islamabad, Pakistan. Studied at Art College, I worked in all mediums and a variety of genres but I chose to major in Painting where I decided on Traditional Miniature Painting style with contemporary subjects for my thesis work and ever since it has been a preferred medium of expression for most of my artworks. At the same time, I have a strong inclination towards oil paints as well and their extensive use is evident in my artworks. I believe that insights in art are supported by a multi-disciplinary practice and that my work in one discipline has influenced my work in another. Therefore, I do not hesitate to shift between mediums of expression and I strongly believe that through the beauty of integrating different mediums, one can create masterpieces. Alongside my MFA degree, I also worked under the mentorship of a very well renowned and esteemed artist from Pakistan. I feel proud to say that my mentor’s style of painting has influenced mine to a great degree and which in itself is inspired by Pablo Picasso’s Cubist style. To me learning from the masters and getting inspired by their work leaves a great impression on one’s artistic practice. Working as an artist has brought me into contact with a wealth of outlooks on the world and introduced me to a vast range of truly differing perceptions, felt ideas, and knowledge. I am greatly moved by concepts of spirituality and the consequences we face as we go by making the choices from day to day lives which has also influenced my experiences about life in general. I hope to depict not only a natural progression of my past explorations but also to reveal a leap of creative and material synthesis yet looking at ways of refining my subjects constantly as the world needs beauty and break from the anguish people are already suffering with. Through this process, I continue to depict and emphasize how global networks inform us, how communities engage and deal with the everyday lives of people creating a variety of cultural foundations and how we preserve the very existence into the chapters of history for future generations to appreciate.
LC – What is the most challenging part about creating your artworks?
SA – The most challenging part when I start working on my artworks is to come up with the correct form of symbolism to match the theme I choose to create for that particular painting. Once the imagery comes to mind, I feel ready to apply paints and develop the form. For conceptual artworks, the right use of symbolism is very important whether you choose to depict through shapes, lines, structures or colors. It is the very foundation of any piece of expression.
LC – Are your artworks focused on a specific theme?
SA – For me, the thought process of the theme to paint not only comes from cultures, identities, values and beliefs around me but I also find expressions to convey social and political issues of the times. I try my best to reveal truths about many positive aspects of the human experience, particularly love, hope and unity that leap into the heart. With using such creative media like oil paints and intricate techniques of Miniature painting like Siah Qalam, Neem Rung and Guch Rang, I investigate and explore further the themes such as nature, self-experiences, the material world around, spiritualism, surrealism and the discontents of the current globalization and the ways in which it has jeopardized the well-being and livelihoods of the common man with its economic, social and political values. I am interested in understanding and interpreting the narratives, phraseology, and translations that come from these communities. Another fascinating subject that is dominant in my paintings is “architecture” which inspires me to recreate and retell stories from my perspective (which is a mainly cubist style of representation). It compels me to create contrast between nature’s fluid forms versus order met by geometric shapes and patterns of the architectural forms.
LC – Did your style change over the years? In which way?
SA – My style of painting has kept evolving over the years and is still evolving as my artistic journey continues. My artworks are recognized by characterized subject matter with an interpretation that synthesizes the essence of the subject with the qualities of abstraction. In the process of bringing the paintings alive, be it any medium, I take great joy in applying paints with an open heart and soul to bring the subjects and theme in limelight. Each painting gives me a unique opportunity to communicate my thoughts and feelings on the canvas for the greater audience to interpret. To me, the choice of medium for the particular artwork defines my style of painting, for instance, contemporary traditional Miniature paintings are done in a totally different style as opposed to oil paintings. Sometimes the theme and subject matter I choose to paint outlines my style as well, which keeps evolving as I am compelled to think and interpret the world around me sensitively and carefully. Nevertheless, strong symbolism, textures and colors remain dominant in my paintings. However, it is not easy to be a contemporary traditional artist, painting with the finest line quality and delicate application of paint, and yet at the same time switching between working on canvas with bigger and bold strokes. I believe the beauty of the two mediums is what has given me a creative engagement in addressing my subjects and the theme on the deepest levels.
LC – Do you agree with our vision of art and what do you think about the theme of the festival?
SA – Yes, I agree. For artists, their main concern is the production of original quality works of art and then they need a platform where they can showcase their creations for the public to engage and appreciate the hard work. At the same time, they need guidance on various levels of commercial projection. I think ITSLIQUID is doing a great projection for artists from around the world. The theme of the festival was quite thought-provoking. When I came across the theme of the three events of the festival, my artistic thought process was instantly outlined to look for the symbolic features I could use to depict the theme and from there on I decided to participate in one of the events of the festival.
LC – In which way the artwork presented in our exhibition is connected with the festival’s theme?
SA – I have contributed to the Borders Future Landscapes festival with two of my artworks, titled: “Finding Your Journey through the Landscapes of Life” and “Future of the Estates – Unharmed Lands”. “Finding Your Journey through the Landscapes of Life” is a painting that talks about the relationship between people and their journey on land. The paths YOU travel, eventually bring you back to YOU. Often we find ourselves alone in the midst of the hustle and bustle of life, we must never forget that at the beginning of the journey it is us who are going through the experiences, be it from the places you visit or the people you meet, and at the end of the journey, it’s us who have learned many lessons on the way. Landscapes may change from time to time but we remain the travelers. The dreamy landscape and its warm hues in the painting refer to my beliefs in positivity and pleasures of life. The three paths show there is no right or wrong path in life’s landscape, we must travel different paths to find ourselves. Never stop wandering and getting adrift every now and then to only find yourself again.
“Future of the Estates – Unharmed Lands”: in today’s world, lives are busy between commitments and responsibilities that humans are chasing round the clock, which therefore does not allow them the exploration of the beauty nature offers. The painted glass boxed houses and commercial spaces pose a contrast against the organic nature of the land as they are simple, abstract, yet spectacular settlements offering unobstructed views of nature. In an endless meadow without a clear definition of the external place, the relationship between the building and the place is the floating feeling that arises naturally. The futuristic and minimal glass building concept will give people the chance to be part of the landscape. For the flourishing future of the landscapes, we must design homes, office spaces and commercial areas that would provide a comfortable environment all year round while minimizing its energy use and impact on land, saving the habitats as well as Mother Nature’.
LC – Would you suggest a collaboration with us? What do you think about our services?
SA – I will be humbly obliged! The services provided were great! The communication representatives were very helpful and swift in replying to the queries and concerns I had. They offered assistance with the shipping procedures as well and the whole process went extremely smooth.
LC – Do you think ITSLIQUID GROUP can represent an opportunity for artists?
SA – The amount of platforms in the form of events and opportunities ITSLIQUID is presenting for the artists, architects, fashion designers from all around the world is no doubt a very substantial proposal. Open calls are highly favorable for artists to reach out and participate without boundaries and limitations. The offer to grow and exhibit on prestigious venues such as yours is an artist’s dream which equips them with immense exposure.
LC – Did you enjoy cooperating with us?
SA – I am definitely thrilled to find myself amongst an international group of artists. This was a huge step in my artistic carrier – to be able to send my artworks to the group show held in Venice, Italy. I wish I could come to participate in the exhibition in person and meet the ITSLIQUID GROUP representatives and other fellow artists if it was not for pandemic limitations. Nevertheless, the experience has been rewarding and elevating.