When His Story Forms Your Story : Preview of Nabibakhsh Mansoori's 'The Wonderland'

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For those who love to travel and experience the magic of locales, find stories in life around, take a walk along the known unknowns, yet wish to do it all without moving an inch must perhaps be face to face with artist Nabibakhsh Mansoori’s larger-than-life collection, The Wonderland.

As you ‘look for’ various people, animals, bylanes, amid the vast expanse of nature in these canvasses that envelope you in, the sheer size of 78×190 inches only makes it easier and more desirable to step into a world that inspires you to find a story, to relate to its many layers. It propels you to imagine a parallel universe, a world that, like the artist puts it, “is like a multi-starrer film where every character’s story is strong.” There is “no one hero, no one story” herein, but a multitude of people, frames, objects, landscapes, ideas, philosophies, journeys. And what is interesting, very arresting too, is that as you tread in there, you unravel the thoughts and ideas of the artist and alongside end up finding your own stories within. There is a mystery, a wonder in the forms on canvas which signify the artist’s dreams and thoughts stemming from the deep recesses of his mind.

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As Mansoori’s 23rd solo show, The Wonderland stands true to its title for the sheer joy and wonder it allows you to keep zoning in and out of. There is an element of realism in there, though you may not necessarily see it, you will feel it nonetheless. Above all else, these artworks consist of a parallel world, away from yours and yet your very own. “These are my dreams, my thoughts, that my brush has communicated on canvas. Watching these paintings is like going to a new place and exploring it. And then, almost all of a sudden, you meet a known person…you know how that feeling is?” he asks, expecting a promising nod of agreement. There is also a strong sense of curiosity about people and stories that lie within the canvas. The components from life here are there to form a different story, a different life. What also dominates these artworks are colours, each latching onto a specific range. You have blue dominating the work, In Memory Of My Village Oda, whereas you try to figure the place, you end up feeling you are familiar with its sphere. The house right in the centre is the artist’s, and his favourite tree right across his home, is painted in a distinguished red-pink shade to express the emotion. Romance IV is a painting that is best left for each viewer’s personal interpretation, quite like one’s own story of love and romance. While the canvas is big, really big, it is the two lovers caught in a gaze that catch your eyes first. The rest around forms a tale depending on how you view the lovers’ zone and every thread that binds them.

Hamlet takes you on a ride to a land that you wish you belonged to, a world that deeply engrosses and allows you to open up to its joys and mysteries, but in parts, in stages. As a viewer, you feel drawn in to places that seem the farthest. Zephyr is so smooth, it soothes you but only after letting you travel around in a swift gaze. The symmetry and play of colours in this one will leave you desirous of multiple walk-ins to the canvas. And, each time you step out, you will realize it was a different journey, on a different road. Satori’s hues in shades of reds and maroons, pinks and purples, build a world you find tough to walk away from. It looks very perfect, but the various couples and characters within lock you into a world of intrigue. Joy and tension play hide and seek as you marvel at the different corners before resting in the centre. And the delight there is yours to seek.

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What sets this exhibition apart is that for the first time ever, the artist will paint live and complete one of the artworks on display there. A studio within a gallery is how you will witness Hutheesing Visual Art Centre from September 19 to 24. There is a method to all this colour, to this madness, this mystery. “When I begin a work, there is an abstract concept in my mind. Like for example, in Romance, I would have thought of the element and story, or more important, the look of the work as it must turn out. The composition is very integral to how I draw or define a work. I always have a subject in mind and the painting progresses along the way. It is never casual, never showing something that just happened with the brushstroke. To put it well, my works are a manifestation of my inner thoughts,” shares Mansoori, who expresses himself through perspective, colours, shapes, contrasts, light and dark. “And you know,” he offers, “if someone sees my work and feels they belong in there I have achieved my meaning behind making it, though however, there is no final meaning or message in any artwork.”

For this artist, while he has sufficient clarity of thought behind all that he composes and wants people to read and see, he is equally at ease with viewers forming their own story from elements they come to confront. And you know what? That is where their journey, their story, begins.

Photographs : Marmik Shah

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