Minaa Mohsin in Conversation with Libas Now
When did you learn that you wanted to be an artist? That this would be your line of work?
It may sound cliché but I was always fascinated by drawing and colouring as a child. I drew wherever I could; may it be walls or floors, doors or windows, phone dairies or even important documents! Drawing Disney characters out of newspapers and magazines was my favourite hobby. As I grew older I would make detailed portraits, with as much observational focus as a young person could muster, of all the guests who would come over to visit. I loved making quick sketches of cats, hens, parrots, and other pet animals that inhabited my childhood house. Back in the days when finding serious drawing lessons for children was very rare, my mother took pains to locate them and made me attend for improvement and development of my skills. However, it wasn’t until 2006, when I took A’ Level Art & Design as a subject that I actually started to think about Art as a career.
Apart from painting, what other mediums have you explored or would want to explore?
I would like to delve into 3 dimensional or sculptural work as extension of my 2 dimensional paintings. I’m interested in creating something that evolves into an experiential or immersive art form that requires the onlookers to participate. Filmmaking is another arena that I would like to explore but I find it quite intimidating.
What inspires you? What is your process? Is it an epiphany or do you research your current subject matter?
I would say it’s a combination of both. It begins with an epiphanic moment which leads me to research which then culminates into a body of work. Inspiration for me is derived out of my experiences, both lived and desired, and from my past and current surroundings.
What do you want your audience to take away from your work?
Once the work is on the canvas, it becomes open to public interpretation. I mention what is important to me in my statement, however, the audience is free to take away what resonates with them. Through my work I attempt to communicate concerns that people have become desensitized to, such as female objectification and commodification, the male gaze, consumerism and overconsumption, to name a few.
Who is the one artist you would want to collaborate with?
That’s a tough one! There are many that I’d like to collaborate with. It would be a dream to work with the duo behind Toilet Paper Magazine, Maurizzio Cattelan and Pierpaolo Ferrari. The magazine is a combination of two great minds forming an eclectic mix of commercial aesthetic with absurdity and humour.
And who is the one artist (living or dead) you’d want to have lunch with?
Vincent Van Gogh. With ‘Starry Starry Night’ by Don Mclean playing in the background. I would have so much to ask!
David Hockney is another one. Since he is alive, I still have a chance! I would love to discuss at length his choice of subjects, styles, materials and methods of art making.
A word of advice to young artists?
Make what comes from within. Keep working and be responsible for what you leave behind. Art is a documentation of its time and place. What you make is what will be remembered in the years to come.
What is your favourite colour palette?
All colours vibrant! I don’t hesitate when it comes to using extremely bright hues. I enjoy adding fluorescent colours, as well as interference and iridescence.
Describe your dream studio space.
My current studio is very close to my dream space in terms of square footage. However, like in other parts of the world, it would be nice to have a space in a building occupied by artists and other creatives. Being surrounded by makers really helps in staying in a constant state of inquiry and inspiration. Imagine how many fantastic collaborations would come out and how wonderful it would be if all occupants of the building open up their spaces for everyone to see on Open Studio days. Several such buildings would lead to a whole community of artists which would provide a massive creative relief, something that we, collectively as people of Pakistan, really need.
What is your experience being an artist in the 21st century where all experiments have been done and all ideas have been explored?
Even with all the experiments that have been done and ideas explored, there is still room for more to come and there always will be. We, humans are not only unique individually, but are also constantly evolving beings, and art is an extension of us and all of that. Whatever is made will always have a different reality and relevance depending on when, where and by whom it is made. As long as there are intelligent artists creating it and intelligent minds enjoying it, I am confident that painting (or art for that matter) will never die.
“Drawing Disney characters out of newspapers and magazines was my favourite hobby.”
“Inspiration for me is derived out of my experiences, both lived and desired, and from my past and current surroundings.”
“It would be a dream to work with the duo behind Toilet Paper Magazine, Maurizzio Cattelan and Pierpaolo Ferrari.”
“As long as there are intelligent artists creating it and intelligent minds enjoying it, I am confident that painting (or art for that matter) will never die.”