After completing a bachelor’s in accounting and finance, Antara Biswas took the plunge, switched careers and pursued what she loved doing most, creating art. We caught up with the multitalented artist to find out more about her journey of self-discovery through Islamic art and geometry.
Where do you find inspiration to create work?
Much of what I create draws inspiration from nature. I find the universe concealing symmetries in all its panoramic asymmetry. The colors I see, along with symmetries that I find hidden, all are drawn from nature. As a sensitive person, I connect with people on a very deep level. Though it happens on rare occasions, it’s like our souls have met. Also, being an observant person, I bring out the emotions I see and feel, and render them out on paper using my colors and geometry.
How and why has Islamic art influenced your artistic style?
When I was exploring the oils in my teens, I had dedicated myself to mastering hyperrealism and portrait study. I became more comfortable with portraits and human expressions, but I wasn't finding satisfaction anymore. It was only after the discovery of Islamic geometry that challenged me and questioned my method. As I kept exploring it further, it kept drawing me in deeper. I felt like I was on a path to rediscovering myself as an artist.
What a layperson overlooked as mere geometry, the sheer work that went into crafting the symmetry fascinated me. With time and practice, my artistic style evolved from hyperrealism to contemporary art. I visualized human emotions in color and framed them in geometric patterns. The devotion and flawless craftsmanship that went behind each piece was what drew me towards it and moved me to understand it better.
Do you think the development of Islamic art is important to society? If so, why?
I believe Islamic arts to be the bridge between the visual and spiritual worlds. It moves a person to look beyond what is obvious, it implores us to seek deeper meaning of the universe and its creation.
A disappearing art form, the Islamic arts are in dire need of preservation and protection. I believe that once we start devoting ourselves to Islamic arts, we will draw our attention away from the representational world to one towards the pure forms of nature.
The Islamic arts is a very disciplined, sacred body of knowledge and, I hope that people, especially the youth, discover themselves in their pursuit of this art form as I was able to do. I sincerely believe it would help them better appreciate culture and history. They are breathing artifacts from several centuries ago and traditions of people who have long gone from the world but have still left a piece of them with us.
Can you explain any themes / concepts behind your work?
I derive inspiration from nature. My reasons for creating art stem from emotions that I find myself incapable of expressing otherwise. The themes of my artworks mostly revolve around human emotions and expressions. I focus on a color palette to articulate and express emotions like anxiety, fear, loss, etc.
As an optimist, I try to pass on a note of hope at the end of every artwork I create. Every piece I make carries a message, something that leaves the beholder feeling comforted. As an advocate of mental health awareness, I hope that my work speaks out to people in need of solace, to those whose feelings have been neglected as well as to those who are trapped all alone with their fears and sufferings.
How has your practice changed over time?
I started practicing different forms of art from a young age. I picked up pastels initially and then gradually started practicing with watercolors and oils. I have always been encouraged to replicate an image perfectly and not explore art and myself in the process. As a result, I became obsessed with tiny details to achieve flawless resemblance with my subjects, absolute perfection, without understanding what my style was.
Islamic art gave me creative boundaries and liberties to explore what I wanted to bring to life on paper. I found answers to where I wanted to channel my energy and passion. It gave me a home, somewhere I could keep exploring and diving deeper into seeking meaning in what I was doing. Earlier, I worked dominantly with oils, my subjects being still-life objects and aging people. After finding my calling, I switched my course from hyperrealism to contemporary art with a blend of geometry and biomorphic art.
Professionally, what’s your goal and future plans?
Having found my calling, it is now my dream to pursue further studies in traditional arts and master Arabic calligraphy. My efforts of learning this hand under Master Haji Noor Deen, is aligned with this dream and, I hope to deserve an ‘ijaza’ one day. I am currently saving every penny possible to be able to afford the degree I want for myself.
My goal, aligned with my ideals, is to learn more about the science and practice of traditional arts, those that are deeply rooted in history and culture. I want to protect this dying artform by understanding it better, by bringing out its reason, and reflecting its meaning in my work. I want to use my learning and try to spread a message supporting the importance of mental health awareness. I want to relay that compassion for oneself as well as for others goes a long way in making the world a better place to live in.
To find out more about Antara Biswas follow her on Instagram @AntaraMotifs
The views of the interviewees who are featured in Bayt Al Fann do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Bayt Al Fann, its owners, employees and affiliates.