KOCHI: Kochi-based artist Ameen Khaleel is using his art to express what has missed society’s eyes during this lockdown. As many as 23 digital artworks he put together, featuring everything from nature to isolated burqa-clad women, gives a viewer many perspectives about the world around us. “Before starting the project, I collected around 500 photographs of women in burqa against various contexts, like beaches and public institutions. Lines and images created using pigment prints and acrylic colour are later layered with the photographs to create a special effect,” he says.
The women are looking up at the skies as if in hope for a better day in a series called ‘separated kiss’, and in few other frames, their features and clothes have been elongated or tweaked to make them more prominent to the viewer’s eye.
Elements of nature like water and sunlight have also played a major role in shaping up his work. “I paint under the sun, in the heat and wash the layers off with water. Certain parts are peeled off in the process, often creating a new pattern for me to work with,” he said.
The idea to add digitally transferred images to paintings first occurred to Ameen in 1999 after his exhibition in France. “I got a feeling that my art needed to develop further to represent the contemporary world. This thought created a sort of identity crisis and I took a seven-month break. This gave me many fresh ideas. My passion for photography must have also inspired me to mix it with the art I do,” he said.
The interactions that he had with a couple of fashion designers about T-shirt printing during his time at the Cholamandal Artists’ Village in Chennai gave him many technical insights too. “Back then, working with digital prints was time consuming and expensive compared to now. But I was satisfied and it helped me love my work,” he said.