Through The Looking Glass With Hussain Jamil

The Golden Eye, 2021

Artist and writer, Ameera Khan chats with up and coming artist, sculptor, and visionary, Hussain Jamil.
After graduating in painting from NCA, how and why did you end up working in metal?
“With the change in material and surface, my theme remains the same as I am still playing with the image of caricatures to represent multiple faces of people. It is now more experiential as one can make their own caricatures by confronting their image in my work. I would further like to add that since I used to do a lot of commission based sculpture projects back in NCA, somehow I knew it would be incorporated in my personal practice.”
What was your first work ever sold and how did that feel?
“All of my work was sold at the thesis display in NCA, even before I had my final jury and I was not expecting that because all my work was about mocking the contradiction of the inside and outside image of kings and queens, and how they manipulated it but then I understood that all that audience really needed was entertainment.”

I am still playing with the image of caricatures to represent multiple faces of people

Your work is about questioning the image in the mirror. What have you learned about human nature while exploring this theme?
“My observation and perception about human nature and behaviour is ever evolving as it changes in accordance to the changing atmosphere. Their changing behaviour is what I call ‘human’s hue’; as depicted in my recent work consisting of multicoloured sculptures from the show at Shalimar Gardens in collaboration with Hussain Rehar.”

Jamil’s sculptures at Shalimar Gardens in collaboration with Hussain Rehar’s 5th anniversary solo show.

What’s your favourite artwork that you own?
“It is an animal skull painted in miniature technique titled: ‘It is Still Green on My Land’ by Momina Muhammad. Also, one of the best Zahid Mayo’s London works.”

I understood that all that audience really needed was entertainment

How did you come up with your hit solo show, Reflections, at Dastaangoi Gallery?
“The show acted as a bridge between my miniature painting and my metal work to reach an audience. I created around 100 works in the year 2016-2017 that I did not feel like displaying in a commercial gallery, but then I met Amad and he came up with the idea of reflecting candle light on my work. After five months of planning, it came out to be a great experience with.”

What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you see your work displayed in popular restaurants like Dan Dan and For The Table, or artisan boutique hotels like Wusaaq?
“Alhamdulillah is the first word that comes to my mind. Seeing art displayed in [public] spaces is not something common in Pakistan. Starting with art installation on walls, I then evolved it on the floor and ceiling.”
“I started listening to my work in context of possibilities and connected with people like Dan Dan’s owner, Amar Mohsin and Batool who are good listeners and have both exposure and good taste that allowed me to play freely, and [while] freedom is key, at times it is very difficult to handle.”

What’s your favourite piece that you’ve ever made?
“The title of the work is ‘The Other Completes’. The work is a corner piece with multiple layers depicting a journey. Made in two parts, it consists of one mirror based reflective surface while the other side has an image; without one the other becomes incomplete or creates a different entity. Together they depict how one identity reflects the other once they meet and at one point become one, yet a unique combination.”

‘The Other Completes’

If you weren’t an artist, what would you be?
“Theatre performer.”
Why do you think the world has responded so much to your pieces?
“I think in a world of selfies, [where there is] an obsession with self image, people found a different experience of looking at themselves in my work. Apart from that, I believe hard work and prayers can open any door.”

I think, in a world of selfies… people found a different experience of looking at themselves in my work

What’s your favourite public art installation?
“I like the ‘Mercury Disperse’ at Rina’s Y block and ‘The Bean’ in Chicago by Anish Kapoor.”
What do you think of art created by Artificial Intelligence? Where do you think it’s headed?
“It’s fun to see a lot of drawings and filters these days [because] it’s a part of progress in the coding industry, [and soon] it will become the everyday-problem- solving-tool in the future. It will [of] benefit a lot.”
What’s the best art advice you were given and what advice would you give to younger artists?
“Never loose hope and that there are three steps to success in my opinion:

  1. Know your destination
  2. Find a path to it
  3. Take the first step”

here are three steps to success in my opinion: know your destination, find a path to it, [and] take the first step

Artist, critic and a self proclaimed historian. I write about the this and thats, odds and ends, and etceteras of the art world.

1 Comment

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