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The Book of Disquiet, Gallerie Romain Rolland, 2005

Saba Hasan, in her latest phase, is a painter who can put both finger and brush to canvas charging it with an expressive quality without creating a smear, stain or smudge. The handling of her material is assured. At this stage she is a 'contemplative' among painters. For her the calm virtues of craft are the main points of departure. Free, and yet deliberate design; fine, rich but an exceptionally reserved off-white colour; the use of nails, scripts or other humble or elevated accessories in the body of each composition; and a textured surface that shows an equal variety and inventiveness. But these are not merely her means: they are also an inspiration.

Saba begins and ends with her tactile substances. The precise character, the texture, size, tone, direction and rhythm of each ragged touch is hemphatic preoccupation. Her whole system of pictorial thought and emotion is centred in her brushwork cum fingerwork. And this is why she is close to abstraction.

The quality of her undulant or creased surfaces fills her conscious mind thus obtruding, prevents her from seeing round to the need for a defined subject. Never the less, what we call the subject, is eternally present, as in all visual art. It is an element that no conscious effort on the painter's part can succeed in eliminating. One says this because the human mind insists, it seems, in finding an equivalent for that reality beyond the paint which once was, say an aperture in an old-time house, a tree or a haystack, else the echo of a bard's potent lines. So there is double meaning in the artist's genre, and several nuances in her marks on plaster. The work when at its best is palpably alive. For the most part, the artist's intention is firm and her means are well adjusted to her intention.

Needless to say that this order of work demands a trained viewer's eye to release its true flavour.

Keshav Malik


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