This photograph is courtesy of Mueen Saheed.

A DISCUSSION WITH ARTIST MUEEN SAHEED

Art Copy is pleased to welcome Mueen Saheed, an artist from Columbo Sri Lanka, for a follow-up discussion about his art and creative experiences in 2016.

Earlier this year I examined the artist’s style and — among other things — concluded that the combination of abstract painting with its power to evoke feeling juxtaposed to figurative references that point to real life experience speaks to the human heart as well as the human intellect.

This photograph is courtesy of Mueen Saheed
“Independence Memorial and the new Nation,” by Mueen Saheed
Close up from "The Conquest of Galle," depicting the city during Dutch rule. This photograph is courtesy of Mueen Saheed.
Close up from “The Conquest of Galle,” depicting the city during Dutch rule.
"The King in the Coat and the Portuguese officer," close up from "The Conquest of Galle." This photograph is courtesy of Mueen Saheed.
“The King in the Coat and the Portuguese officer,” close-up from “The Conquest of Galle.”
Mueen goes to Europe.

During his sojourn last year, the artist painted, visited museums, met with friends and studied the European landscape.  He refined his emotive, symbolically rich style. His recent work is as nuanced in meaning as his savvy, abstract narrative paintings in Galle, Sri Lanka.  At the same time, he stretched his art in new directions.

Mueen Saheed painting all night in Zurich. This photograph is courtesy of Mueen Saheed.
Swiss Dentist’s painting, by Mueen Saheed. This photograph is courtesy of Mueen Saheed.
In Munich, a  favorite doctor and collector of Mueen’s art commissioned the artist to paint his office door.  Mueen was gratified by the possibility of offering relief to an ailing patient even if only for a fleeting moment.   He envisioned pastel tones that would be soothing to souls walking through the corridor to or past the painted office door.

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Painted door by Mueen Saheed. This photograph is courtesy of Mueen Saheed.

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By contrast to the paintings that he designed for the chic boutique hotel in Galle that include figurative references to the location’s history, the painting for the Munich commission is relatively abstract.  The symbolism is also different in the Galle and Munich commissions.  While the former refers to important moments in Sri Lanka’s history, the symbolism on the painting in Munich speaks to the power of healing.  The piece is mostly abstract and purposely therapeutic.  Nevertheless, the blue, dancing figures on the center panel represent souls dancing free in their imagination.

Mueen visits DARWIN.CAMP in Bordeaux — an art themed collective — that supports artists commitment to environmental protection.
 In September of 2016, Darwin presented The Ocean Climax Festival, a spectacular annual art and music event devoted to climate change and raising awareness of challenges to the well-being of the planet’s oceans.   The event was supported by Amnesty International,  the World Wildlife Fund, Greenpeace and was attended by over 30,000 supporters.
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The artist lives on an island that is celebrated for its beaches and therefore is familiar with the challenges that climate change poses. At one point in our online discussion, Mueen said: Climate change is one of the main issues of this day and age.  Water pollution, air pollution, disappearing species, disasters of horrifying magnitude plaque the earth and yet some like to deny the truths of the environment and of global warming. 

Therefore, when Darwin provided him with a studio within the collective and art supplies for a commission, he was compelled to paint for twenty-four hours, neither eating nor sleeping or taking his eyes off from his work.  Mueen describes the painting entitled The Two Oceans as a condensed expression of color and energy.

“The Two Oceans,” by Mueen Saheed. This photograph is courtesy of Mueen Saheed.
This photograph is courtesy of Mueen Saheed.

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The artist views former French Prime Minister Alain Juppe, as a leader of climate change in an age of deniers.
In turn, Juppe — also a fervent Darwin supporter — is captivated by Mueen’s painting and graciously signed a corner of the painting in a gesture of solidarity.

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Mueen’s European experience reinforced his commitment to current events and concerns like climate change, gender violence as well as traditional themes such as history and philosophy. Indeed, he aspires to carry his style and message around the globe.

For more information, please see, www.mueensaheed.com.

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