“Nature never did betray, the heart that loved her.”
Says William Wordsworth.
Nature is, for what, one can feel falling in love again and again. Nature is more than any explanation of the word ‘beauty’. Nature is more than any ideology of mimesis could hold on to.
Nature inspires human eye, she inspires human brain, and she inspires human heart, and if this inspiration falls upon an artist, she reincarnates herself as and through panoramically rendered canvases, or malleable stone sculptures.
Love for land is, as an artist is naturally inclined to mother earth, for what a painter explores new areas of his or her palette.
Landscape painting is such an affair where painters let no stone unturned, even to paint mere pebbles. It is about capturing the changing light if one is impressionist like Monet; especially in his Haystacks series. It is about putting on display the pure colors with thick layers if one is post-impressionist like Van Gogh. And it is about trees, shrouds, water, clouds and birds, all a romance, no matter it is in the lucidity of Constable or in the ambiguity of Turner.
The soil where Pakistan is actually in the map today, has been the ground to one of the most ancient civilizations; the Indus Valley Civilization.
This part of the Asia has seen many generations to grow and perish. It has seen all shades of nature, lurking at the heights of Himalayas to the silver lace of the coastal areas. It has nurtured life in the grays of rocks towards west and northwest, and in the greens across the vast planes, letting contours of five rivers to crosshatch the its fertility. So one who possesses a tender heart has, but no choice to fall in love with this land. This temptation has caused many to paint this love.
Raja Najam is one of those painters who, after being fallen in love with nature, have looked after her beauty through their brush dipped in pure colors.
His technique seems of a vagabond’s with different shades loitering on it. He gives an impression of being inspired by expressionists at one place, and at another, he is found to following the impressionistic application of colors through their juxtaposition. Same, is the case with perspective, in few canvases; he has created depth at a realistic level while somewhere he could not penetrate into the surface.
Green fields and trees can make him exploring his talent in connection with painting but, wherever he has painted water, the stationary and unexciting mood has prevailed through his frames. The diversity of his subjects, might be due to his residing at different places, has actually created a combination of multiplicities rather than a signature style, which, usually for a landscape painter, goes a long way.
Somehow, Najam’s canvases give an impression, not always, as being painted from a photograph rather than on spot where the depth within the surface through sumptuous use of his un-demarked pallet, becomes hard to find. His eye does not seem blending different tinges within perception before those tinges could actually create a total tonality.
Vincent Van Gogh was one artist, who through his unique style of using thick paint dragged forcefully across the canvas, laid the foundation of a distinctive painting movement; expressionism. It was a movement where emotion took control of balance and un-conscience took over the conscience. Expressionists, in the early part of the twentieth century, added the emotional value inside their frames, which exhibited the dynamism and restlessness of the artist. Raja Najam has adopted that dynamism and restlessness but only in his brushstrokes as the artist does not give the impression of being under any psychological pressure that should relate his expression emotionally.
That is why the color-strokes appear at rest on the surface and not going deep in the perspective. The colorful fields of Sarso gives an impression of a bride at MehndiI in yellow without any touch of real ochres and deep blues, life actually adds to her life afterwards.
In few frames, he is even found close to be going for Cézanne’s style with softer tones and brush strokes of an early cubist. With his softer palette, he is found to be more in command in creating the effect of depth and the total atmosphere, which can be rated as more ‘painterly’. In landscape painting, especially in our environment, where dust particles due to dry weather do not allow crystal clear panorama, neither we have extra light caused by sea all around as practiced by Gauging in Tahiti Islands. Therefore, the use of palette, especially while painting the vast plane areas, needs consideration regarding tonality and impact. Since landscape painting has always been at ease with realistic approach, no matter what technique is adopted, the blending of basic colors and delicacy of depth has helped many to exploit many possibilities in this very genre.
Overall, Najam is a good prospect for future generation of landscape painting in Pakistan, excluding the commercial requirements; he might find himself spellbound with. His paintings are colorful enough to capture buyer’s eye and his colors normally do not create any dispute with the interior of any room. But landscape painting is not just meant for adorning walls. It is a romance, romance with nature. To capture nature is like hugging someone in love. It has many shades, more than a pallet can bear. It has depths, more than any canvas could create with illusionary perspective. It has weathers; warm or cold, it has rains and fogs, it has clear blue sky and dusty horizons, it has different shades of changing sunlight. Then how it could be possible for a painter to capture all these moods of nature? Only through his love for her, by zeroing scientific and conscious efforts and by feeling all the warmth, chill, dusk and dawn, within himself rather than looking around exteriorly!
Najam’s determination is strong, so is his longing, which ultimately will get voice through his expeditions based on his colors. The more his hands will hold the dynamic brush, the more accomplished he would get as there is nothing, he may be falling short of becoming a landscape artist of his own style, but few moons later!
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