Recent Press About Isabel Zaman
Isabel: Time-scorched, beauty-captivated
By Mainuddin Khaled
The intellectual practices have grown complex in Africa, Asia and Latin America, a consequence of living for centuries in European colonial ambience. The artists there had to give credit to the accidental morals of art to cross the path of institutional education in fine arts, which in the present case mean the Hellenic aesthetics that gained impetus during the Italian Renaissance. Then emerged colonialism that held in fierce grip the three continents for over four centuries. The artist community in the colonized cultures refused to limit themselves in the complex of western aesthetics because they themselves had long past of their own art streams and aesthetically standards borne out of centuries of practice. So at one point of history, the artists of the colonized continents felt strong urge to produce new art through revival of the moribund traditions. But by that time, the practice of art on the whole gained a hybrid character as a result of mingling of many currents. Like the crossbreed people of Latin America, their art is also pregnant with diverse essences. Indigenous art language and ideologies are deeply mingled with those of Euro-America in the Latin art of today.
Isabel Zaman was born in Mexico. This Latin American land plays the pioneer in the practice of modern art alongside of carrying on its own ancient traditions. Isabel’s art speaks the hybrid language born through the rich fusion of divers art thoughts of the present time with the pre-Columbian practices and modern currents of the colonial period. Devotedly she follows the modern Euro-American art language, while reverently accepts the finesse of her own indigenous and folk traditions. here it may not be a misstatement to say that people or community who have, for historical reasons, been compelled to accept the practice of alien cultures besides their own, possess better capacity to receive. The result of this raised capacity to receive and to mingle traditions and thoughts is not only manifested in the new dimensions emerging from the admixture of the western and not-western currents, but also through creation of novel expressions throughout the meeting of traditions of the three continents, Asia, Africa and Latin America.
Marriage connects Mexican Isabel to Bangladesh. Mexico and Banladesh simultaneously turn into her work. Her bond has grown not only with one Bangalee, but she has profoundly connected herself with the thoughts and art of many others of the community in which she chose to marry.
Isabel’s work possesses a rare kind of narcissistic aura, which a majority of her productions emit in a subtle but sure way. We can draw an example where she equates her definition of beauty by putting flowers and female nudes together. A deep feeling for humanity which intensifies her leaning towards mystic thoughts is also a major tone of Isabel’s work. That may partly explain her in-born urge to paint, which her struggling life could not subdue. Isabel was born in a poor family in a mining locality. Her passion for painting revealed itself when she was very small, the hardship did not let her adhere to her passion – she had to go for earning at quite a young age. It was her marriage to a compassionate person that brought her the scope to devote her full time to painting.
Her birth in a mining community let Isabel see the naked face of life. her vocation of art had a likely beginning with pieces of coal, red earth, plant leaves and color that she could make from other materials from nature. In adult life, Isabel does not feel constrained for one moment to venture into daring paths for her artistic expression, perhaps because she did not go through institutional art education. On the other hand, her work, while expressing a particular social message, pleasantly passes the acid test of aesthetics that mercilessly cast away anything that fails to go through its own rigorous and complex set of indicators to distinguish a work of art and a message. The documentary elements in Isabel’s work, as they are filtered through her artist’s sub conscious, touch a dimension of novelty. The depiction of Bangladesh’s national Martyrs’ Memorial at Savar with the blossom of Krishnachura (Royal Poinciana) – the vertical rise of the memorial through the vivid red spread of the flower – pays a rare kind of homage paid by an artist to the martyrs of our liberation war. A new epitaph is born in Isabel’s space as the black and white concrete is mixed with the abundant Krishnachura, the Memorial is endowed with a different poetic hue.
A mix-media painting betrays a prayer’s heart in the artist. Here she mixes photographic elements with pastel painted images. The first plane of the painting is created with numbers photos of men, women and children, which flank a painted image of an old man in sitting posture with a holy book in his hand. The old man, grey haired and with grey beard, is he uttering from the book some words of consolation for the tormented souls of mankind? The image of immaculate Sheuli blossom, the Night Flowering Jasmine, makes Isabel’s homage of sorrow purer, more spiritual.
A painter who has gone through many hardships of life in a Latin country, it is easy for her to like the struggle of Bangladesh’s people to her own people. So Isabel knows the daily realities of the garment workers in this country, upon whose blood and sweat, skills and patience Bangladesh has built its strengthening economy and its name as a quality producer abroad. But the nation has been so miserly in repaying the heroes of their economy. The nation has so miserable failed to ensure the minimum safety for the garment workers, the result of which is frequent incidents of fire and other dangers causing the workers, most of whom are women, to burn and be maimed. And eventually, the nation witnesses the Rana Plaza tragedy, which is perhaps the bloodiest workplace devastation on earth in last one hundred years. The tragedy finds its inevitable path to Isables’s canvas. She takes to build the image of the beautiful hands of a young woman worker buried into the rubble of the broken down factory building. The hands pasted to the bricks and cement manifest in a discreet symbolism the ruthlessness of the whole reality of Bangladesh’s garment industry. The anatomy of the limbs are not realistic, they are soft and smooth, which betrays the artist’s reaction: The death of beauty is the death of life. It is a reaction that is fit for an artist towards the unbearable loss the garment workers’ community faced through the Rana Plaza tragedy.
A deep red sun in the background of deep green – this is our flag. The green of the nature is tinged with the blood of the sun – this is how Isabel imagines Bangladesh’s flag. It is indeed not the official flag of our country. It is the flag that has been born in the artist’s heart. Here inward poeticism takes shape in the patches of colors.
In the beginning i talked about a certain aura of narcissism in Isabel’s work. We all love our reflections in our own mirror that appeases all of us in private about our beauty. Doesn’t woman look a bit more at the reflection of her face, and body? Isabels’s space depicts that passion for beauty and thirst for man’s company in metaphors. A female nude in her brush grows with an eloquent back, curvaceous bottom and well-built legs. A giant blue flower blooms from the inner sid of her thighs and a fluttering bird puts ints long beak in the petals. It is a celebration of life, youth and sexuality in a tone of uncomplicated grandeur.
In another canvas a woman stands tall in aback gown against a red plane. her shadow leans on the red, as if the woman and the shadow in silence converse about the essence of beauty, about the eternal thirst for beauty. It is as if not an image of a woman but enlightenment of romanticism finds its bodily existence. Isabel does not follow any realistic art schools, rather takes to depict the geometry of the mesmeric spell encompassing the prakriti and purusha in composed strokes and colours. The conscious of the artist thus undergoes the consistent waves of enchantment of the creation through the combined adventure of her eyes and mind, which are actually the dual identities of she and I. Isabel keeps putting her steady steps to create her own artist’s map where her motherland and foreign land fuse to give birth to a space, which is un-limited with borders and in which her soul can live with eternity as neighbor.