Ten Creative Forces, 2008-2009



The history of art in our times can be viewed as a pendulum swinging between the urge to copy and the urge to invent. It is obvious that we are now far removed from the former. Instead of relating to external facts, visible for all to see, artists today prefer to retreat inwards and conduct a specialized dialogue with each other, commenting not on their attitudes to reality, but on their relation to art itself. Hence the somewhat reclusive nature of present day works, which err by chasing the swing of the pendulum with zeal - total abstraction, for instance. Thereby failing to realize that though their efforts are of interest, they are limited to a small number of the community. Of course, excessive naturalism is equally limiting. On all evidence this artist is trying to steer clear of excess either way. Images of texts from the past revisit the painter's otherwise contemporaryidiom. The past, especially that which by the processes of refining has been turned into the eloquence ofart, is the counter-point to her own work. Thus she is able to carry along with her the silt of reality to fertilize with meaning our present moment.


The painter therefore reconciles the dual attractions of art and reality with skill. She cannot therefore be accused ofreplacing the poetry ofinvention with the prose offact In this way her work is a bridge between worlds of the past and the present.


To elaborate the above a fraction more, Saba vacillates between the earlier art of affect, and that of the exactitudes of the physical eye, such as the academics represented. This distinction may well be expressed in terms of what may be called the subjective or objective artisticintellect. The 'objective' intellect being one which is eminently impersonal, and the 'subjective", equally personal. The former disengaging itself as much as possible from its own prepossessions and striving to represent objects as theyexist; the other viewing all objects in the light of feelings and preconceptions. Of course, it is needless to add that no artistic mind can be exclusively 'objective', nor exclusively 'subjective'.


But every mind and every culture has a more or less tendencyin these directions. The artist, so far as one can see, works her way from an idea downwards, proceeds deductively, starting from some ideal conceptions, and seeking in realities visible illustrations oftime-tested existences. Well this is one way of approaching the work.


I would not want to bear on the various artistic strategies she has used to realize her vision. Suffice to say that she has by nowa mastery of art craft. The range of oblique images that she introduces in each of her works is sobering. She brings lived history to our doorsteps, but only as memorable experience. Here, in other words, is a corpus of work, which even as it may disturb the eye, equally provides a local cultural anchor. Via her genre, we certainly become conscious as to how time and life can at once be multiple - made of regret, and thankfulness.


Keshav Malik

© Saba Hasan

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