Thursday, March 12, 2015

Hassan Kara: Drawing His Way to The Future

...The Story of an Inspired Fine Artist
Born as recently as January 7, 1990, 24-year-old Hassan Kara already considers himself a ‘creator’.

“As a fine artist, my duty is to create all sorts of things using the imagination. Of course, I use the environment to inspire me, and (inspire) my art works,” says Kara, a fourth-year Bachelor of Arts in Education Languages student at Chancellor College, a constituent college of the University of Malawi.

He may not be far from the truth. After all, German philosopher Emmanuel Kant aptly observed that a book publisher selectively mirrors and expresses something that has already happened, while a fine artist “premeditatedly” makes it happen in a context which is imaginary.

Kara falls in the latter category. Exactly 115 days before his 25th birthday, he had already created such art works as ‘Road’, ‘Mother Nature’, ‘Ideal Face’, ‘The Universe’, ‘Experiment’, among others.

What is more? He has even created unconventional art works that include the ‘Experiment’, where he abandons the traditional friend of the fine artist, namely the brush, for seal tape and bubble gum.
“I wanted to bring something new; to retire from the brush and try something geometric,” says Kara.

That, exactly, is also how a new generation of fine artists is turning things around. The one thing about this generation is that they want to capitalize on traditional art, commonly practiced by ordinary villagers in Malawi. Often, these craftsmen have no formal education in fine arts and remain largely uncorrupted by Western creations.

Nevertheless, Kara acknowledges that it is difficult to run away from contemporary art because human society becomes whole only when connected to other parts, and is itself a part of another totality- the universe.

“In the final analysis, Malawi is not an island but obviously a mere part of the whole universe. Therefore, it, too, should fit into the order of the universe, and the arts are no exception.”

Tracing Kara
Like any artist, however, Kara quickly realises that, while in-born talent can be acquired with comparative ease, nothing short of the daily exercise of years can train the man-of-the-imagination to support his talent with auspicious art work.

“Through practice, I have come to realise that I am at my best when working on art works that border on abstract expressionism- in which case, one creates artistic works that are not based on familiar or real objects,” says the artist.

Kara cites the ‘Universe’ as one of the works that border on the abstract. 
 “That painting depicts circles, rectangles to create a picture of the universe that tickles the creator’s imagination, and not necessarily a (universe) which depicts the ideal world. I portray the comt-spoken Kara’s artistic journey started from his imagination; there was someone real who was a real artist who inspired him into the world of wild imagination.
“I was lucky in the sense that my father, Yakuub Kara, was a fine artist who used the pencil to pass the message across. I might have inherited it (the talent) from him,” says the Lilongwe-based Kara, who was born at Machinga District Hospital.
So, while it is true that only his name exists on the canvases of each of his creative works, but his father unseemly inspires his imaginary works. It’s just that the creation of fine art works is best carried out alone.
plexity of the universe by using colours which give the viewer an idea of what the ‘universe’ consists of. In simple sense, I was creating my own universe,” says Kara.
Not that he has been prompted to create his own universe because he is angry with our ideal universe. He says he came up with the idea just to show art lovers that art is not inferior to anything, and has the temerity to bring up creations of gargantuan proportions.
If ‘Universe’ is a creation of gargantuan imaginary proportions, then, ‘Road’ is in a world of its own. The painting depicts a road that leads to a brown sunset, and Kara says this is his depiction of the end of the world.
“It is a fact that, one day, life just has to come to an end. This end comes in two ways: When an individual dies, and when the world, as we know it, shall expire and come to an abrupt end. The end is real,” says Kara.
Some of his inventions include ‘Mother Nature’, which advances the African conception of women and nature as caring.
“The world, I think, is a woman. It shares the attributes of love, care with women. Nature gives us water, oxygen,” he says.
Apart from this, there is ‘Ideal Face’, which he uses to pass the message that we are all one. The impressive fact about the painting is that the faces in it share a common feature: Sometimes a nose, at times eye. Something like that.
A close observation of his works may mislead one into believing that an old hand was at work.

Same old cry
While Kara has brought a new dimension to fine art, he shares the observations made by the old timers that creative minds face a myriad challenges to reach Financial Haven.
“The main problem in Malawi is that people think that art is not an integral part of life. This problem emanates from the fact that a lot of people are not exposed to art: when you are a kid, and are much into drawings, parents tell you to abandon madongo (clay) and concentrate on education. This creates the impression that art work is not that important,” says Kara.
Kara takes himself as one of the fortunate people in Malawi, revealing that his primary school teacher used to encourage him and classmates to draw things on the chalk board while at Lilongwe Christian Primary School.
He suggests that the government should put in place mechanisms aimed at exposing local artists, pointing at the mounting of exhibitions at tourism events as one such initiatve. This, he says, will go a long way in creating a Malawian identity, as opposed to the situation now when contemporary art continues to leave a mark in local paintings.

Facing the future
However, these challenges have not distracted him from pursuing his life dream: creating paintings that draw out the best emotions in us.
“I ventured into fine arts after being inspired by Paul Jackson Pollock whose art movement is premised on creating ideal works through splashes,” says Kara.
Pollock was an influential American painter and a prominent figure in abstract expressionist movement.
Abstract Expressionism is a term applied to a movement in American painting that flourished in New York City after World War II among artists who shared an interest in using abstraction to convey strong emotional or expressive content. These artists moved away from European traditions of painting to create a distinctly American kind of art, which both acknowledged and challenged the domination of early 20th century giants such as Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, and Vasily Kandinsky, according to MoMA Learning website.
Other movements include realism, which depicts reality and the art works appear as if they were a real photograph; abstract art, which Kara practices with relative success and includes cubism (the use of cubes to create images); expressionism, among others.
“I am not driven by money. In fact, when I do artwork and someone expresses appreciation; it’s an achievement to me. I want to bring something new in the arts world by combining traditional and contemporary art elements,” says Kara.
By combining these two elements, Kara hopes that the country will soon be saturated with his works- mounded together in peculiar arrangements: piles of abstract and realistic paintings improvised on the walls and our memories.
All these goals are premised on his understanding that, artistic works have the potential to erase the anxieties of common life and let the soothing of the imagination rule supreme.

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