Friday, 23 December 2011

Solitary promenades - a trail of intermittent thoughts

Seul.....solo... solitary,
my soul's soliloquy,
A never ending ebullition,
sometimes an expostulation,
No suave speech here...
Just a flurry of brazen words, feelings, thoughts...
A sudden outburst
like Hokusai's great wave,
in my world of deafening silence....
Peace... or silent noise....
a confounding cacophony......

I just had a moment there,
with my soul...
where lies the connection..
between the mind and the soul?
Is it the heart?
or is it?.......

Another moment gone.
whisked away by the winds of change
fading footprints in the sands of my memoires..
shall I backtrack?
Is it worth it?
or shall I create a new trail
set off for another promenade...
an unending new beginning...

I want it to stop.
Ou est la fin?


How many more metamorphosis must I go through?
I feel like Kafka's Gregor.
a temporary, recurrent phase, I know...
Can't wait to move on.
Barriers built of moods
a diversity of negatives
a myriad facettes
(oh!) To find,
Meta....physical beauty,

in shards.

It's time to put the shards together again,
bind them with the grout of hope
and ignore the pain.
and re-create a mosaic
knowing well that those shards will break - again,
into smaller pieces....
and the cycle goes on.
The soliloquy continues.

Behold!...a dream...
like Joseph's eleven stars and the moon paying obeicense in Van Gogh's starry vision,
I try to interpret my nightly visions
and visitations
of memories
of pain

a form of hope.

untrustworthy interpretations..

and the soliloquy goes on....
a never ending interpretation
of a a dreamworld we cannot avoid...
a dreamworld we call life.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

The run

I just got back from my 7am run. I ran past a tree on my way and the thought process began....

"Look how only a certain section of leaves on this tree have changed their colour from a monotonous green to beautiful shades of Autumn.... like they've been kissed by sun rays and have blushed.... like they are now 'falling' in love...only to be reborn again later.... a never ending process....We too are touched by many things (for lack of a better word) in our lives...the sun rays that touch us are sometimes soft, sometimes harsh...sometimes it hurts, sometimes is lifts us up.. either way, we are touched... and we evolve. it is up to us to evolve into something more beautiful, so as to inspire others... like this tree inspired me....."

Autumn touched
( I painted this after I came home from
my run)
this morning's inspiration

I ran past a lavender bush....growing on the outside of a fence, almost in the pedestrians/joggers path...My thought process continued....
"Many people might get annoyed when something like this bush gets in their might break their speed... their oblivious stance in life...There is a reason for that beautiful lavender bush to grow there...It's speaking to you. ...'Stop!..look around you....I am beauty....I am you...we are all connected... we are one..'. Tomorrow, someone might uproot that lavender bush....."

inspiration in my way......
I went past squirrels,..... so many of them.... Reminded me of us...only our basest of instincts are now the most important of all...Survival and reproduction.....not in that order.
We work endlessly, get in each others way, annoy each other, attack each other...and this is the disgusting truth....lesson learnt....

Our run in life is too fast...It is now all about competition...keeping up with the Joneses...Let's slow down....and enjoy what life has to offer each of us...instead of snatching from each other.

Nature is most definitely the best teacher.
Enjoy your day my friends.... and keep an open heart.
Much love.

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Friday, 7 October 2011

To my son - with love

Dear Son.

As tears stream down my face, I write these words for you. I love you so much.... and I miss you even more. Circumstances are such that you are not sitting in my lap with your little arms around me. Every second I spend away from you is like a stab in my already broken heart. You are the light of my life...and this seperation has dimmed my world.
I know that the sacrifices we, your parents, are making will pay off eventually... as the sacrifices my parents have made are paying off.
This seperation probably will not even be in your 2 year old memory... but is eating away my peace of mind.
IF you ever read this when you're older and hopefully, I will be by your side when you do, I will tell you all about our struggles and prepare you... and guide you, to guide your progeny....Your name isn't Ali Mahdi* for no reason, my love.... Inshallah, may you always be rightly guided.

Portrait of my baby boy
Graphite pencils
*Meaning of Mahdi - The rightly guided one.

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Bollywood - Black and White

So I'm back to practicing portraiture now. It's been quite some time and I'm really enjoying it. I figured that it would be best to draw well known faces. They are always around and tend to stay in ones mind.I, personally, find people from the black and white era of Bollywood to be extremely beautiful with highly expressive visages.
I'd picked up cheap graphite shading pencils from Sears, from the 'back to school' section and a thick sketch pad as well... I got down to it and couldn't stop.. I finished a portrait in about three hours. It's been fun. Can't wait to try out the dry brush technique though... Soon... :)

Meena Kumari
This tragedy queen had the softest, most sensitive face of all. She'd convey her feelings in silence, with downcast eyes and a philosophical frown.

Dilip Kumar
Dashing, debonair Dilip....One could easily sense the hopeless romantic under the egoistic facade.

She'd put Narcissus to shame...Her face was labelled the most symmetrical face of that age.I love her classic, Greco-roman features.

No words for this one...She had one of those faces people couldn't stop staring at. Perfect features and an endearing personality.

More coming up here...Watch this space..

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Thursday, 11 August 2011

Spiritual Reflections - My Debut Exhibition. (part i)

Invitation Card
Invitation Card

Inaugurated by Her Highness Sheikha Omniya Al-Sabah

R to L: Fahim Hamid Ali, Ambereena Razvi, Princess Omniya Al-Sabah, Shebina Amlani (organiser), Rashmi Khanna Sahani

With Sheikha Awrad Al- Sabah

To view more works by Mr.Fahim, check out his website:

Fahim Hamid Ali stood at the table with his hands jammed into his pocket, his hair carelessly falling over his forehead, attitude - nonchalant... allowing us to wander around the gallery and view his art works..Shades of the earth, mineral and metal....reminding us of verses from Iqbal and Ghalib's poetry....A lone moon here and a lonely peacock there... A mysterious arch here and a hint of calligraphy there... His works are very soothing... almost minimalist, yet speak volumes.
After my parents and I introduced ourselves, we sat at a table in the corner of the gallery and discussed Art and poetry...He saw a couple of my works on my  iPhone and I suppose his 'trained eye' found them appealing....He asked me if I was ready for my debut exhibition... I was a little startled..." When do you want to plan it for?" , I asked. He said that May would be a good time for him...And that was it...
I thought the guy was bluffing...A few days later, I get an email from him....asking me if 30 of my works are ready to be displayed. I was seriously shocked.. This guy was really talking business now...I jumped up and ran to where my paintings were stored... I pulled out everything I had........ Wow...
My paintings were just lying in my huge portfolio case...Old calligraphies, still lives, landscapes, textured backgrounds...There were some incomplete works and some needed touching up.

I had to decide what theme to work around... The current scene of the world - political, emotional and spiritual is really something that needs to be reflected upon. So I pulled out my calligraphies. I'd done these while I was going through my noir (black) phase... Pierre Soulage and Hassan Massoudy were a huge inspiration. Most of these works were experiments, but now looked like complete masterpieces to me...

I decided to touch 'em up a bit. I had a series of 7 ( 70x100) calligraphic works in black and now my mind was bustling with ideas...I heard whispers in my head.. I could almost hear them telling me what to do...The injustice in this world is something I have always felt very passionately about....I cannot stand it. I find that I get depressed when I watch any sort of injustice happening... even more so when I find I can't do anything about it. So I decided that my painting would be a medium through which I could become a warrior of sorts... A silent warrior whose weapons were brushes, paints, sarcasm, paradoxes and wit. My armor would be  my spirituality, my faith and my love for humanity. Armed now, I began painting fervently

On an almost black background,I started a collage of very  negative words that have become a part of daily reading....Suicide, rape, terrorism, murder, political injustice, sectarian violence, etc. After the collage, I wrote 'Salaam' meaning 'Peace' in Arabic calligraphy over it, completely breaking the norms of elegance and fluidity... This was' noir' every sense of the word...but through this blackness, through this negativity, I wanted to give a positive message. I feel that this world has forgotten the language of love. I figured, let's talk to the world in the current language of hate, negativity and aggression. This was my oxymoron...A positive message through an aggressive voice.
Would they get it?

'Salaam' - 'Peace' - A cry for peace
mixed media

In a world of Darkness, we have forgotten light, hope, peace and love. We have forgotten that Allah/God/Dieu/Ishwar/Jehovah  call him what you may - exists!...Darkness is always associated with evil...We have forgotten that HE is Omnipresent...and that when we are up to no good...hurting someone, thinking and feeling negative, and ignoring injustice- HE is watching, and giving us another chance... to undo the bad, to reflect and to refrain and to do good. Why then do we not listen to our inner voice?, which is essentially good! These paintings depict that very feeling.

اللهِ Allah
Acrylic and dried pastels

الله هو
 Allah hu - 'God is here!'
Acrylic and dried pastels

 نُوۡرٌ عَلٰى نُوۡرٍ‌ ؕ
Noorun 'ala noor - Light upon light
Acrylic and resin

Acrylic  and oils

فَبِاَىِّ اٰلَاۤءِ رَبِّكُمَا تُكَذِّبٰنِ‏. هَلۡ جَزَآءُ الْاِحۡسَانِ اِلَّا الۡاِحۡسَانُ‌ۚ‏ 
 Which of the favours of your Lord, that ye deny?. Is the reward of goodness aught save goodness?

  اَللّٰهُ نُوۡرُ السَّمٰوٰتِ وَالۡاَرۡضِ
  Allah is the Light of the heavens and the earth

The word of God.
Kun, Fa yakun.
Be - And it is.

 We are all of the same soul...Created by the same creator....just cast in different molds and roles.

Life... withered

Union of souls - We are ONE
 I did this painting of whirling dervishes in the impressionist style while in a trance myself. I felt happy, submerged in love and content while doing this painting. The message here is that despite our many differences, we are the same from within... All of us fight the same battles within, and come out triumphant in some way or the other...We need to learn to find triumph in failure too.. Every soul must go through these tests to come out worthy of uniting with the Beloved.

The Arabesque for me represents everything beautiful. It symbolizes, beauty, love, spirituality.. It's flowing form, timid tendrils and sensual curves represent for me the process of being encompassed by love, positivity and beauty.
The arabesques in the painting above (Entranced) signify the feeling of being engulfed by intense passion and immense serenity (during a 'sema') all at the same time. The colour purple represents spirituality and white represents purity, positivity and the soul. The hat stands for the goes on to tell us that once entranced, we go beyond death and become with the Almighty.

In search for the Beloved

'In the orchard and rose garden
I long to see your face,
In the taste of Sweetness,
I long to kiss your lips,
In the shadows of passion,
I long for your love.

Oh! Supreme Lover!
Let me leave aside my worries,
The flowers are blooming
with the exultation of your Spirit.'
~ Rumi

This poem of Rumi really touched my heart.... and 'In search for the beloved' was born on canvas.

In a world where love and compassion comes rarely, I have realized that we need to first find it within ourselves, in order to share it with the rest of the world.
The battlefield within

I did this one in an hour, my mind torn into two was done a frenzy.....I could never put them together aligned...proportionate....I find it proportionate, unproportionate...
There's a battle we fight within us every day.....keep fighting...there will be peace someday.

(PS: An award winning blog in Kuwait did a post about the exhibition. here's an excerpt:

I had written about the art exhibition 'Spiritual Reflections' by Ambereena Ali Razvi and Fahim Hamid Ali . My husband and I visited the exhibition yesterday at Dar Al Cid and we had quite an uplifting experience. A vibrant, charming and beautiful young Indian lady,  Ambereena who was raised in Kuwait, studied Fine Arts in Paris, currently working as an Art Teacher in Gulf English School, expresses contemplation, positivity, peace and an artistic representation of wisdom gained through spiritual reflections in her paintings. She had also exhibited works that involved textile designs. Some of her work also involved current social issues and peaceful solution depicted through art. 

I personally enjoyed all of Ambereena's work, as each had a special message or a hidden spiritual significance like one of the paintings depicted a subtle reminder to us, 'And how many of Lord's bounties will you deny?' Isn't it true that sometimes we have to remind ourselves of the numerous divine blessings in our life. A mystery verse, "Noor un Al Noor' - Light of Light, is another painting Ambereena would prefer visitors and viewers to decipher...What is darkness? what is light? What according to you is Light of light? Ambereena's paintings are beyond all human differences, in her words, we humans are all one...of the one and the same spirit. She is definitely a very talented and gifted artist. )

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Thursday, 24 March 2011

I am....

oil on canvas
 Self Portrait - The choice of Gold and blue arabesques in the background symbolize my, representing calmness, purity and positivity and gold, representing divinity, spirituality and mysticism...

Closed eyes represent many escape.....a quick nap while daydreaming (:P)....but on a serious note, closed eyes represent a much deeper meaning...I'll leave it for you to decipher.

`One day our descendants will think it incredible that we paid so much attention to things like the amount of melanin in our skin or the shape of our eyes or our gender instead of the unique identities of each of us as complex human beings`.  ~Franklin Thomas

Saturday, 26 February 2011

Celebration of the human form

I sat on my chair with my easel in front of me, the nude model standing in the middle of the class... The card on my easel blocked out the model partially... or purposely...
I was in a situation where I didn't know where to look. Too ashamed to look at a completely nude woman (my culture and upbringing being very conservative), I was embarrassed...

My aunt, who is a fashion designer and professor at NIFT in India, had taught me how to draw a basic figure of a mannequin when I was little.... and not looking at the model standing in front of  me, that is what I was drawing... a tall, slim figure of a mannequin, not the beauty in front of me.

"Amber! Regarde la modele devant toi... regarde sa forme! qu'est qu'elle est belle!!" said Francoise, my professor/director of my school. She was asking me to 'look' at the model, appreciate her form, and find beauty in nudity, something that was the complete opposite of what I was taught in my culture, where the beauty of a woman is protected, cherished and nurtured, not displayed for all to see.

But this was a change I had to accept. I was in Art school. This was a subject I had to take. And eventually, I did start to appreciate the beauty of the human form.... And now I can say with surety - We truly are Allah's most beautiful creations. Whether fat or thin, dark or fair, freckled or smooth alabaster, I have seen and learned to find and appreciate physical beauty in spite of all its flaws and learned to praise our Creator even more.

(Paintings have been removed)

Painting in black and white acrylic on brown paper was interesting and painting in monochrome has always been my favorite style. To be able to deliver the effect of smooth skin in monochrome is challenging, but the results are very good.

Toulouse Lautrec, a French painter from the early 1900's was known for painting crowds and scenes of exciting Parisian night life. The 'Can- can' dancers from the Moulin Rouge were his favorite ladies and our model that day was dressed like one - a long white 'jupon', a black corset, fishnet stockings, gloves, aa feather boa and flaming red hair! She was an absolute pleasure to paint!

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Thursday, 17 February 2011

Ya Ali

"Oh, I desire a cup of wine from the Beloved's own hands.

In whom can I confide this secret?

Where am I to take my grief?

I have yearned a lifetime to see the Beloved's face;

I am a frenzied moth circling a flame,

A wild rue seed pod roasting in the fire.

See my stained cloak and this prayer-rug of hypocrisy;

Can I , one day, tear them to shreds at the tavern door? "

- Imam Khomeini

Ya Ali

Ya Ali (detail)

Ya Ali (detail)
I painted this 3 years ago, my mind saturated with words and sayings of Imam Ali from the Nahjul Balagha...My heart fluttered..... like a happy bird that flutters its little wings after a much awaited rain shower. 
This painting can be viewed in portrait or landscape...Viewed in portrait, you will read 'Ya Ali'. Viewed horizontally, you will read 'Allah'.

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Monday, 3 January 2011

My iPhone - an extention of my hand... and brain

 Two years ago, my husband bought me an iPhone after I believe, he saw that the numbers were falling off of the dial pad of my N95....first the '8' fell, then the '5' fell, and then my expression fell..and before I knew it, an iPhone fell into my lap..I'm sure you know how great that feeling is...and the best part?? It's liberated!!! In case you're wondering what I mean by liberated, I mean 'jail broken'. I don't like the sound and feel of the word 'jail-broken' ...It sounds criminal... :) .Therefore I've taken the liberty to replace jail broken with liberated.

After installing 'Installous', I haven't stopped downloading and upgrading apps.... it's brilliant.. it's like I'm carrying my personal library, my game room, my palette and canvas (itsy bitsy canvas) and much much more with me at all times....Only now, I have more apps for my toddler (which I let him use only before bed time) that include 'Talking Carl, Larry, Tom, Robie the Robot, Bacteria called John ( I wonder why they'd name bacteria John), Santa and T-Rex.", 'volt', 'bubbles', nursery rhymes, and numerous other finger stimulated stuff.

What has my attention mostly are the art apps. like 'Brushes,Art Studio, Sketchbook, etc. iArt, made so famous by David Hockney, is definitely worth a try for progressive artists like me. As much as I tend to gravitate more towards the old school style of painting, preferring to get my hands dirty, digital Art is also worth the shot.

My very first attempt on my iPhone was an observation drawing of a wild bougainvillea growth behind a dark green fence in front of my parking space at work. So while waiting for the traffic to subside, I decided to try my hand... I mean finger at some iArt. I'd think it'd be pretty easy for me, someone who has been working with the many 'Adobe' software for so long, but damn, I wish I had smaller fingers?!! I won't be surprised if in the next century (ie. if the world doesn't come to an end in 2012) we humans might grow an extra digit on our hands to work with touch-screen technology!!
Here are some of the works I attempted mostly while waiting for traffic to subside or when I have nothing better to do.

Many more works coming up. Watch this space ;)

Moonlit cherry blossoms


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