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  • Writer's pictureAishath Aboobakr

Shifting, Turning, Changing by Hassan Niyaz – A Review

Hassan Niyaz's debut exhibition at Art Gallery Male' marks the waypoints of an artist in transit.

You can see flashes of realism here in his portraits of his father, the smiling young woman. They are all endowed with a softness, and maybe that is how the artist both perceives and presents himself to them, his loved ones.

Meanwhile, in one of his paintings of the emblematic white terns, its shape is fluid and almost indeterminate, recalling dream objects. The terns seem to evoke feelings of lightness, a desire to be wing-borne, to travel.

Tern in a Storm II (2023)

Like many artists, Hassan seems greatly affected by dreams, and this comes through, especially in the abstract pieces. Suggestive of form, of objects, you can never be certain of their identity, but you needn’t be – these paintingsare generously evocative and heavy with mood. And they seem to reach out towards a hidden dimension in the artist.

Art aims to describe and understand the inner, first and foremost. This goes some way in explaining Hassan’s love for literature, from the popular novels of Stephen King and Murakami to those of David Foster Wallace and Dostoevsky – they all present the lived experience of a particular kind, the interiors of those inclined towards the spectrum’s darkest end. This exhibition seems to capture the dark dreaminess of Murakami and to a lesser, softer extent, the unrelenting realism of the famed Russian.

Blood Moon (2023)

If Hassan’s portraits are labours of love, his abstracts are confessions calling out for real, meaningful connections. In one striking abstract painting, ‘Blood Moon’, its deep blue evokes a stateliness, distance, objectivity – it shows the very real expanse of the sea and the violence of its white-tipped waves. But the blood moon and its ghostly purple reflection in the centre immediately renders this foreboding scene fantastical. The unknown depths and unrest on the surface exist now in contrast to the mesmeric glow of that blood moon, an apparition of hope that by its existence transforms the very nature of the painting.

Men who know nothing of the creatures that live within the chasm of the self, and of the brutality of their brothers, know little of life and as such will have little to say that is of any worth. Hassan's work may not be very technical, but they are deep and often lyrical, affirming life in darkness and light. His style is, like himself, in a process of becoming – he seems to be caught in motion, but even so, his work here is largely accomplished and worthy of appreciation.

The exhibition will be on at the Art Gallery Male' until the 28th of October.


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