Nipa’s solo show at Edge Gallery

Maksuda Iqbal, also known as Nipa, is a highly dedicated artist who started her career in the late 1990s but consistently maintains a low profile. She possesses a strong passion for her artistic creations and has successfully developed her own artistic language through a unique style. The deep layers of colours she applies to her canvases result in a distinct texture, making her artworks easily recognizable. Nipa's paintings effectively convey the essence and true meaning of colours, showcasing her affluent and laborious technique that demands immense effort and devotion. Her pursuit of beauty as well as contemplation on human beings and the often overlooked aspects of nature greatly influence her choice of subjects for her paintings.

Nipa finds oil to be her preferred medium due to its ability to provide her with flexibility. In her artwork, she unconsciously incorporates unique themes, forms, and techniques, never intentionally doing so. All of her paintings are created using oil-based materials, as she feels comfortable working with this medium and has received advanced education in oil painting. Her artwork primarily focuses on technique and showcases her skillful craftsmanship. Oil holds great importance for Nipa as it allows her to bring her artistic vision to life. Its richness, volume, and textural intensity serve as a constant source of inspiration for her. Additionally, the expressive nature of oil and the time it takes to work with it contribute to her artistic process.

According to her observation, the medium possesses a remarkable lustre, durability, and the ability to enhance the depth of colours. Additionally, the medium's smoothness enhances the paint's flow and prolongs drying times. The advantage of oil paint's slow drying process is that artists can gradually develop their paintings and make necessary changes. Oil paints blend seamlessly with one another, allowing for subtle variations in colour and the creation of intricate details of light and shadow. Nipa finds the vibrancy of oil paints to be particularly captivating. These qualities contribute to the higher value placed on oil paintings compared to other mediums. Nipa acknowledges that oil was the preferred medium for all classic painters and old masters. Even today, oil paint remains one of the most popular artistic mediums due to its wide range of colours, ease of use, layering capabilities, and portability. However, in Bangladesh, most artists prefer acrylic colours, as working with oil medium requires intricate handling and a great deal of patience. Nipa explains, "I choose to work with oil paint for its rich texture, vibrant colours, and volume. My paintings serve as daily journals, reflecting my thoughts and mental states. That's why many of my artworks are titled 'Mood'."

Nipa demonstrates a strong commitment to integrity in her utilisation of art supplies. She opts for high-quality, long-lasting materials that are essential components of a canvas. Additionally, she places great significance on the careful selection of materials and meticulous application process. Nipa perceives art supplies as a form of embellishment for her paintings. Moreover, the meticulous application and acquisition of costly materials contribute to the longevity of the canvas.

Nipa places great emphasis on the meticulous preparation of a canvas, carefully choosing the fabrics and ensuring the stretchers are of the highest quality. Additionally, she maintains a close relationship with her trusted frame vendor, who consistently delivers top-notch frames for her artworks. When travelling abroad, Nipa even goes to the extent of acquiring various foldable stretchers to guarantee the flawless execution of her canvases. For Nipa, the painting process commences with the selection of a stretcher, the canvas fabric or support, the art materials, and the framing of the canvas.

Nipa relishes the liberty to associate herself with her working methods, which are visibly harmonised and technically extraordinary. She endeavours to advance with a specific style that has become a distinctive trademark of her creations. The abundant hues and evocative textures employed in her works give them a vibrant and dynamic appearance. The remarkable paintings of Maksuda Iqbal Nipa, a talented artist who has been diligently carving out a unique position for herself in Dhaka's art scene, are characterised by flamboyant colours, flexible brush strokes, and captivating imagery.

Nipa asserts that her artworks are formless, evocative, visual records of the daily challenges she faces as a woman and a human being. Her longing for balance and the desire to escape from the oppression she encounters have driven her to create pieces where solace can be found within abstract forms. Additionally, it has been observed that Nipa meticulously combines the fundamental elements of her paintings. Her artworks can be interpreted in various ways: at times, one can perceive a touch of mysticism, while others may experience a sense of harmony, melancholy, despair, and even joy simultaneously. Her mode of expression has consistently remained steadfast, and the artist has effectively established her distinct characteristic through all her creations. Undoubtedly, her style is unparalleled, personalised, and expressive. Within her paintings, one can sense the lament of a solitary soul, an underlying sorrow, and a feeling of vulnerability.

Nipa's affinity for vibrant hues is evident as she skillfully unveils the hidden intricacies of intangible creations. Through her choice of colours and textures, she effectively conveys a sense of tranquility and unity. Nipa endeavours to create a psychological narrative, aiming to depict not only our physical appearance but also our mental, emotional, and spiritual essence. The artist takes pleasure in utilising materials that seamlessly blend together, resulting in technically remarkable artworks.

Nipa asserts that paints are combined in multiple layers to achieve immediate, straightforward, and daring expressions of emotions in real-time. While working, she experiences a sense of everything in existence being crushed and merged before being transferred onto the canvas. Upon examining her artworks, it becomes evident that the artist blends sensation and intellect, which is believed to be a characteristic of abstract expressionism, in her paintings. Her artworks appear vibrant and dynamic due to the abundant use of rich hues and evocative textures. Her images are filled with deep, splashing colours, large droplets, and various sprinkled forms, all set against a vibrant backdrop of colourful images that defy explanation and must be felt. Her canvases are filled with opulent abstract images. However, this abstraction does not hinder the viewers' understanding of the artist's emotions.

Maksuda Iqbal Nipa's solo show titled "Auric Vibrance: The Cauldron of Passion" is now on at Edge Gallery in Gulshan. The exhibition will continue till December 24.

The writer is an art critic and cultural curator.

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