Citizen of the World of Art

Iris C F Gomes

‘Being an artist is not about a particular style or being from a particular place. It's simply about inspiration’ – Hesham Malik

Hesham Malik is a well-travelled artist who was born in Bahrain and is now based in Prague, the Czech Republic. He has an intimate connection with Goa, in that his mother was born in Margao and his grandparents were from Cuncolim. A few months ago he was in Goa to show his collection Embellished at Carpe Diem.

If one referred to Hesham as a global citizen, one would not be far from the truth. The man has lived in Bahrain, India and Dubai. He has travelled to Canada and received two bachelor’s degrees in that country, one each from the Seneca College of Applied Arts and Technology and the University of Waterloo. Hesham has been to Greece, the UK, Tanzania, Kenya, Spain, Austria, Mauritius, Slovakia, Sri Lanka, Philippines, Germany and other countries he remembers and appreciates for their beauty.

Needless to say, his life has been enriched with the experiences of places, people, growing up, and his background which manoeuvres its way into the explosion of colours that enliven Hesham’s paintings. Like any normal child, he dabbled in art in school, but he concedes that his own penchant for painting may have been inspired by the sketching his mother would do when he was a young boy.

Strangely enough, this internationally acclaimed artist has not studied art professionally because he was denied admission to an art college and dismissed as someone who would fare better in IT or mathematics. ‘I was left with no choice but to educate myself for my art. Very soon what I understood and believed was when I stand to paint, the narrative of the artwork is the reason for my creation, and all the messages read into it are actually secondary. This is because I want my viewers to experience freedom. Freedom, so that viewers are allowed to interpret my painting from their own perspective,’ says the passionate artist and lifelong learner who declares education never ends.

A man who spends a great deal of time lending his artistic expertise as a volunteer painting with children and senior citizens, Hesham is very much influenced by them.

The masters of art are in their place, mighty in their brush strokes. He respects their work but refuses to let it heavily characterise his own art.

Hesham makes sense of his world, a world that is shaped by the people that touch his life at different times, through the process of creating his art. These are people who have allowed him insight into their lives, thus providing him with images he can transfer to the canvas. For this reason, Hesham asserts that his art is not completely abstract, ‘At the end I create artworks which transfer my experience from my subjects to my audience. I would say my paintings do not qualify as completely abstract paintings but abstract figurative. What is important for me is that every painting has a story and the story bleeds colours.’

He attributes the vibrancy in colour that his paintings contain to his attempt at presenting his viewers with a seemingly tangible depiction of human involvement with the past, the present and the future. Hesham laboriously researches his subject before he commences painting. There is no room for spontaneity in this painstaking procedure that he has, in time, come to enjoy to the point of almost being addicted to it. To him, it is one of the most artistically fulfilling experiences. He opines that freedom and expression would not be curtailed in anyway by the absence of spontaneity in art. He sees himself as an artist who creates art that allows viewers to interpret it within themselves, rather than thrusting his own ideas upon them.

Professionally, Embellished, Hesham’s exhibition at Carpe Diem, Majorda, was fruitful and gave him the chance to work with people that share his passion for art. He is certain he will be working with Carpe Diem in the near future. However, personally, he suffered the painful loss of his grandmother a few weeks before the exhibition, which robbed her of the prospect of seeing her grandson’s art up close. He says, ‘I ended up dedicating the show to the celebration of the life she lived in Goa. My heart is where my mother and grandmother shall always be, so Goa for me is where my heart lies.’

The commercialisation of art has turned it into a huge industry. Artists depend on the diktats of the elite class and art need not be exhibited to bring in profit. Hesham describes it as a multi-million dollar business where art is viewed as a commodity and this investment value of art is enforced by the corporate models and methods that have been adopted by galleries, museums, auction houses and individual artists. The voice of the critic barely makes ripples to speak out against this perversion of art by lucre. Only a few hundred artists remain whose presence in the art world is significant enough to make a lasting impression.

Charity and being part of the community is important to this thirty seven year old. He donates his paintings to organisations that may have silent, live or online auctions. He is cautious in his choice, nonetheless, with the understanding that not all organisations are free of ulterior motives. He enjoys painting with young children and older people and prefers it to painting for them.

‘My calendar is completely booked till 2017. Recently, my art was displayed in a private display in Paris, titled Bête Noire (Black Beast),’ says Hesham. He is presently working on his next display, to be shown in London, which is based on an ancient sign language. Another exhibit called Swastika will be on exhibition in Moravia, Czech Republic, after the London show.