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The melodic canvas

Anwar's lines and forms capture the essence of music



Anwar's present series confirms the artist's amazing control over form and content.

NEARLY TWO decades ago, when Anwar held his first major show, the legendary artist and art-teacher J. Swaminathan (then the Director of Roopankar Museum of Fine Arts, Bharat Bhavan, Bhopal) had written: "Anwar Khan has not only mastered lithograph techniques to a high degree, but has also grasped with great perceptivity the function of the line in drawing... His drawings have the haunting fascination of maps left with secret recordings of unreclaimed treasures."

Today, the artist has moved away from the graphic medium to the world of paint. The transition has been smooth as can be perceived in the depth of contemplative paintings where the viewer can identify those maps, recordings and treasures, which his mentor described. But Anwar's training and toil in graphics and printmaking have not been wasted. On the other hand, his paintings have gained tremendously by following its clearly etched and affirmative trail.

Firm grounding

After obtaining a National Diploma from the College of Fine Art, Gwalior, in 1985, Anwar moved to Bhopal where he came under the direct tutelage of Swaminathan, whom he respectfully refers to as "Ustad". While admitting the grounding provided by Ustad, Anwar clarifies that the affiliation was not literal but more in terms of understanding and applying new concepts and ideas, which helped him charter a new course. The path came with plenty of pitfalls, but the young artist braved them with commitment and resolve. A Bharat Bhavan scholarship in 1987 helped too.

"Bharat Bhavan was not just an academic establishment those days," recalls Anwar. "It was a centre for arts where music, drama, literature and other artistic interests converged... The whole atmosphere was charged with creative excitement. I particularly remember the excellent concerts by the likes of Gangubai Hangal, Bhimsen Joshi and Vilayat Khan there."

Music not only inspired the young artist, but also formed the basis of many series that he painted. In fact, his latest exhibition of paintings is titled Essence of Music.

"In Anwar's paintings, the lines and forms capture the essence of music," writes Ella Dutta. "Its rising and falling cadences, its bursts of strong patterns soaring and arcing on the canvas, its flourishes and squiggles, its deep introspective undertones... Anwar wants to capture on his canvas the secret music of the universe that determines the pulse of life."

Subdued tones

For those acquainted with Anwar's works, the present series confirms the artist's amazing control over form and content. His canvases, vertically divided into two unequal halves, bear pale brown, blue and grey shades. In the warmly restrained gentleness and deliberately subdued tones of the paintings, there is a soft reverberation. An occasional scratch, nick and scuff accentuate the hidden inscrutability and mystery of the image, while the square, triangular and hour-glass incisions, which seem to float with effortless ease, build up a sophisticated geometry of forms, shapes, and outlines. The clear areas of blankness — like those moments of musical silence — expands a melodic peace and harmony. In the best compositions, Anwar magically brings together elements of silent appeasement and transitory excitement.

(The latest series of Anwar's paintings, which have been brought to Bangalore by Crimson — The Art Resource, are on display at The Hatworks Boulevard till November 20.)

ATHREYA

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