Abeer Ibrahim Shah, an Egyptian artist based in Bangalore, loves to work with oil paints. Presently, showcasing 20 of her abstract paintings at Welcom Gallery, ITC Windsor, Abeer speaks to City Express about her passion for painting and her exhibition titled ‘Embracing the Light’.
“The exhibition is not completely about light, as the name suggests. In fact, it’s a very personal experience in healing oneself. And, it’s not strictly in the spiritual sense, it’s how you let light inspire you and learn to see the light in everything around you. That kind of sums up this exhibition for me,” explains Abeer.
Abeer who is now 42 has been painting for 12 years. “I will always remember the first moment when I decided to take up painting. It was a very special moment. I was visiting the Opera House in Cairo with my mother, where an Egyptian artist was presenting her work. I watched her work on her easel with a knife, and it immediately caught my imagination. Her work really touched my heart,” says Abeer quite nostalgic.
Working with oils
The artist then went ahead and enrolled herself in an art class, mentored by artist Mohammed Desouky, famous for his landscapes. “I worked with charcoal, pencil drawing. Then, I approached my guru who said that I have a lot of emotions and gave me quite a few tips about working with oil paintings, so as to lend expression to my feelings,” says Abeer, who completed her education at Cairo University, and also obtained a diploma in Business Management, from the American University in Cairo.
Abeer’s paintings evoke multiple meanings at every viewing. Full of colours and reflected light, they are a mirage of the depths of the human mind. There is love, there is joy, and also limitless sadness. She gives a velvety texture to her paintings by playing with oil on canvas. Having a good eye for colours, she is quite generous. “Over time, I learnt to see the world with my feelings and soon enough I was confident when playing with colours. I went through a lot of videos, attended exhibitions, interacted with artists to know how it can be used correctly.”
Experimenting with abstracts
It is only when she started working with oil paintings, that Abeer started experimenting with abstract forms. “You can’t be an abstract artist, if you’re not a philosopher or an artist. Abstract art is boundless. People from different cultures and backgrounds respond to it. Finally, all art is about communication,” Abeer elaborates.
For Abeer, oil paints are her favourite medium. “I realised that painting abstracts with oil is not very easy. The paint takes forever to dry, and the colours change during the process. But it is also an exercise in patience and maturity. You cannot quickly translate an idea. It takes time.”
Abeer shifted to Bangalore four years ago, along with her husband who is an Indian. “At first I used to ask myself, why did I come to India? But I realised that every new place and new experience enriches me as an artist. The colours, the environment here, the culture, everything serves to help me grow,” she signs off.