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Mahjabeen Atif

Painter

Rawalpindi, Pakistan

Bachelor's of Fine Arts

National College of Arts | Pakistan.

ARTIST SPOTLIGHT

Transitioning from the mysticism of tradition to the mysticism of experience.

Mahjabeen’s visuals follow a contemplative discipline, the practice of which is a form of “dhikr”, the art of remembering the Divine. A sense of sacredness and etiquette has always been implicit in calligraphy of which she has a spirited command. The esoteric insight of her understanding the Divine can be identified in her peculiar way of disintegrating and re-arranging the “haroof”, letters (or alphabets) of the Arabic expressions, into varied compositions. The ethical and metaphysical principles of Tasawwuf or Sufism are taken into account by the artist as the intellectual dimension of the soul’s spiritual journey towards unveiling the ultimate truth.

Interview with the artist

What is your earliest memory of painting/drawing?

I remember my still life paintings from early 2000s very vividly and I never forgot those. That was when I got really serious about art because I got familiar with proportions, distance and other factors that impacted the way i look at art. I also realized that I had the ability to draw well. Going in the right direction with the right teachers is something that I recall very fondly.

ALLAH
 

2020

Material:

Acrylics and gold leaf on canvas


Dimensions:

W24 x H36 x D2 inches

Allah

How do you identify the right scale, shape and color palette for each verse/word you pick?

I mostly love to work in monochromes, balanced compositions and bold letters. In my sculpture and painting classes, I would always prefer compositions larger than life and those have always been easier for me. Different intensities of gold have always appealed to me in calligraphy which is why I utilize it to balance my compositions that mostly consist of bold letters.

How do you know when a composition is complete?

That’s a pretty tricky question (laughs). If you follow your instinct, you would know that this is what it should be and how you want it to be.

MOON
 

2020

Material:

Gold leafing and acrylics on canvas


Dimensions:

W36 x H36 x D2 inches

Moon

Ar-Rehman Ar-Rahim
 

2020

Material:

Inks on canvas


Dimensions:

W36 x H36 x D2 inches

Ar-Rehman, Ar-Rahim

Silver Lining
 

2020

Material:

Silver leaf and acrlyic on canvas


Dimensions:

W27 x H47 x D2 inches

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Silver Lining

As someone taking inspiration from a classical medium with deep rooted contexts in the history of art, culture and religion, how do you, as an artist in the contemporary era, relate to the history of this medium?

 

There is such beauty in our ancestry in art, taking that history with me in the contemporary world is what makes this all worth it. The halos in my work are important symbols in both the classical and modern context. There is an undeniable connection between the old and new processes. What is born is beyond beautiful.

Is there something you can’t survive without in your studio?

 

I think it is music and I am a junky for old songs. I can not paint in silence. Second thing would be my large palette which is around 3 feet and it’s been with me for almost 8 years. i love using it!

What is your take on protecting your art works in the age where social media apps like instagram and pinterest are the go to platforms for artists as well as art collectors to get inspiration from?

 

I started working on this 5 yrs ago and I am now beginning to understand Instagram, Facebook and other social media platforms. One thing that artists should always do is to write a statement in the captions declaring that the copyrights are reserved. I  have made a stamp that I use when posting or sending away my work which has proven to be very useful. This type of awareness is new in Pakistan and it's a long fight. Taking inspiration is perfectly normal but completely copying it and claiming it as their own does not suit a professional artist.

White Beam
 

2020

Material:

Acrylics and gold leaf on canvas


Dimensions:

W48 x H48 x D2 inches

White Beam

Is there an art piece you are proud of creating and why?

Not in particular. Patterns in calligraphy have inspired me to invent my own visual language by overlapping the Haroof(letters) into a kaleidoscope of compositions which is something I am very proud of.  I have really worked hard on this expression and that is something I really wanted to achieve. 

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