aisha alabdulla

             Unification, 2020
             Acrylic on Wood
             35” x 40”

Unification, 2020
Acrylic on Wood
35” x 40”



Inspiration behind art piece

“A work of art is an object, but it is also an encounter with time” - André Malraux, a French novelist and an art theorist. Philosopher Paul Mattick’s book Art in its Time mentions the capability of art to transcend historical moments, and bind products from all eras and areas. It is less about the physical resilience of a piece, and more of its ability to become a staple no matter what  the period of time is. Art is history, art is representative, art is conveyance.

    The movie Pleasantville which stars Tobey Maguire and Reese Witherspoon is a narrative of a pair of siblings that were transported through time. It is clearly marked by the black and white features of the movie that they were transported to and trapped in. As artists, we always try to transfer ourselves and our inventiveness in a certain physical mind set, ideological aspect, or space and time.

    This piece was a result of my mind’s journey through the period of the 1940s, a time of great distress and confusion. Despite this, an interesting and a timeless art was produced – Charlie Chaplin’s The Great Dictator. More than its satirical humor, there is a moral issue that is being tackled through the film which is very applicable to our time being. At the end of the movie, Charlie Chaplin imparted his now well-known speech which bares the beauty and horrors of life. The need for humanity and unity, as Chaplin iterates, is ever present and continuously growing.

    Chaplin’s speech is more than just a suggestion, it is a strategy against the current human tendencies for division, isolation, and antagonism. The Great Dictator is more than just denouncing the acts of a few men, it is a social commentary on the failures of a system that render men cruel and uncaring. The timelessness of Chaplin’s work is unbound by the reality that history does repeat itself till this current day.

    My painting is inspired by the daunting relationship of the passage of time and the everlasting qualities of a piece of art or craftsmanship. There is a reason why Charlie Chaplin has been immortalized in the ranks of film making. He and his art work are the epitome of endurance. Which is why, in these circumstances, it was a sensible decision to feature the celebrated filmmaker as a subject of a different kind of art than what he would normally be in.

    I took a portrait of Chaplin which underlines his most prominent and recognized features: the bowler hat, pronounced eyebrows, wide-eyed stare, toothbrush mustache, and relevant fashion. The understandably monochromatic photograph was given a tinted treatment with the help of Photoshop and an app called Colorize. Carefully selected divisions in the photograph were then painted in such a way that it not only evokes interest, it arouses the questions of the mind. Like the movie Pleasantville, only certain parts of the whole picture are colorized in order to depict visual qualities such as depth and pronouncement. More than that, I want to portray how the sensibilities of Charlie Chaplin, his work, and his personal ideology which he translated in his art, has persisted even during the modern times.

    The idea of Pleasantville could also be applied in a way, as there are “colorized” imagery when one finally escapes repression or when one finally welcomes modern senses. In Charlie Chaplin’s speech in The Great Dictator, certain notions, events, and measures can still be seen and applied today. The filmmaker’s work is “colorized” in its transcendence of space and time.

    Art and endlessness are mutual. An artwork is an inquiry,  an artwork is a narrative, an artwork is a response.

Artist Statement

There are two stark dimensions to every image we see that do not merely implicit to the flatness of a visual representation. The two abstracted dimensions can be perceived by the creator and the viewers: first is the external characteristic of beauty, which is effortlessly seen. Then there is the internal history that would require further exploration. Through my artwork, these two intrinsic qualities are meshed seamlessly in order to showcase a personal narrative behind each rendered portrait; with the simultaneous goal of challenging the viewers’ perception of the artwork in front of them and the world around them. Most importantly, one of my artwork’s biggest objectives is to make any viewer enthused to look back into an era that is often viewed favorable and appreciate its artistic repertoire.

    The inspiration behind my work is the visual and idealistic appeal of classical portraits that I implemented by engaging techniques from mixed fields of photography, videography, and painting. Movie stills from a golden era that evoke nostalgia are one of the biggest spurs of my artwork. To properly depict this inspiration, neutral and monochromatic colors are applied in order to create a sense of tranquillity for the viewers. Moreover, soft brush strokes are further amplified by using rough wood grains as the surface of the painting in order to provide a sense of contrast through texture. These ‘external’ qualities are combined with my ‘internal’ sensibilities by merging the past and the present. The periods between the 1920s and the 1960s are visually appealing in all forms to me. My aim is to take the viewer where my mind is stuck – a time that appears to be flabbergasting in my eyes.

︎ aa.aiisha