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Artist Imtiaz Ahmad traverses the sands of time in his latest posse of paintings, a homage to the many civilisations that have constituted to Bahrain’s rich history.
Speaking Sands, a four-piece abstract mixed-media series, features casts of the various archaeological findings from the Dilmun, Greek and Portuguese civilisations, set against backdrops imbibed with the colours of the desert, sun and ocean.
They pieces reflect the natural landscape of the kingdom as well as depictions of some of the man-made features that have become part of Bahraini culture. Imtiaz, 50, told GulfWeekly: “Inspiration for the series is derived from the monuments, archaeological findings and history of various civilisations that flourished in Bahrain namely Dilmun, Greek and Portuguese.
“The knowledge gained while working with different medium of art has allowed me to explore mix media. I have always maintained a parallel between straight edge world of graphic designing and paintings and clay moulding. My artworks are manifestation of my perception of what I observe around me.”
Imtiaz’s latest series, which he calls “visual poetry,” is the most recent in a long body of work that play with the juxtaposition of man-made and natural.
In 2013, GulfWeekly reported on Plastic Potion, Imtiaz’s collection of acrylic Impressionist paintings that portrays a dark yet serene future where fish in oceans are replaced by plastic water bottles. The series is on display at the Supreme Council for Environment (SCE) office in Seef.
While Plastic Potion had a primary motif and singular theme, Speaking Sands is the culmination of more than four decades of creating art, bringing in elemental, structural, compositional and multi-dimensional components onto four unique boards.
“Fascination with colours and textures was an inherent aspect of my childhood,” said the Indian father-of-two, “My father Dr Ali Ahmad Khan, a professor, was posted at universities with nature at its lap. I was very fortunate to spend my early childhood among unique and captivating contrasting landscapes.
“I enjoyed catching fireflies and running behind colourful butterflies. The wildflower bushes which grew in abundance along the narrow roadsides around my house never ceased to mesmerise me.
“My first introduction to art were the colourful flower motifs that my mother used in her embroidery and applique work. The patterns inspired me to capture the beauty of surrounding flora on paper with pencil and water colour. My parents and siblings were always supportive for my interest in art. There was art all around me. Everything that I saw seemed to be a beautiful piece of artwork.”
Imtiaz continued this passion with an Applied Arts degree from Sir Jamsetjee Jeejeebhoy (JJ) School of Art, leading to a successful career in advertising in India and Bahrain while he continued to dabble in fine arts, clay molding, painting, metal craft and sculpture in his free time.
His career as an ‘ad man’ working with computer graphics has helped him bring the digital sphere into many of his works, adding to his unique visual vocabulary. It has also helped shape his paradigm of the world as a “magical, fluid and invigorating panorama,” which can expand the perspective of those who see and ponder upon his pieces.
His body of work over the years has, in its own unique way, become part of the kingdom’s cultural puzzle. In addition to his pieces at the SCE, in 2009, he also designed a set of six postage stamps for the kingdom commemorating “90 Years of Education.”
When away from his day job in the media department at the Ministry of Interiors, he continues to explore and experiment, sharpening his mastery of multiple media, with the support and feedback of his near and dear ones.
“In the evenings I am busy doing either painting, clay molding, metal craft or installation,” he added. “My wife Sobi as well as my sons Hamad and Emaad understand my passion and have always been very supportive. They are also my best critics.”