Realism in art

  • 09 May - 15 May, 2020
  • Rubab Fatima
  • Art

Realism refers to a mid 19th century artistic movement characterised by subjects painted from everyday life in a naturalistic manner; however the term is also generally used to describe artwork painted in a realistic, almost in a photographic aesthetic. Until the 19th century, Western art was dominated by the academic theory of history painting. Artistic conventions governed style and subject, resulting in artworks that often appeared artificial and distant from real life. Then, the development of naturalism emerged and went hand-in-hand with increasing emphasis on the realism of subjects. Realism is also applied as a more general stylistic term, to form the sharply focused almost photographic painting, irrespective of the subject.

In an effort to bring digital art for art admirers in this quarantine, ArtOne62 Gallery has set-up an online general display catalogue series. The purpose is to feature the contributions of different artists for the people who love this particular form of visual to sit back and relax in the comfort of their homes and enjoy some art to kick boredom. Akram Spaul is amongst the recently featured artists, whose work was displayed online by the gallery. Spaul is known to pratice realism as a genre and his subjects mostly are everyday things from mediocre life. From windows to arches, and to other household items, anything could be the focus of his exquisite and finely created portraits. He has been long associated with the field of painting and started decades ago in the year 1986. It was his immense passion for this craft, that he despite working full-time as a designer at a publication chose to not only paint for the love of it, but also started taking it professionally the same year.

In my pursuit to gain some insight, I get in touch with Spaul. He was gracious enough to answer all of my queries in a timely manner (which is a rare-found quality to experience in the field I'm associated with, sigh!). In my opinion, fabricating any creative piece would be a challenging task in its own but I feel the realist approach of painting is a much difficult one, as the portraits seem to look like a photograph and not paintings, which is truly fascinating. With an experience spanning over three decades, I ask Spaul to tell me whether he is professionally trained in his craft or was it a natural flare that comes from within, to which he said, "I've done a four-year diploma from the Arts Council (Central Institute of Arts and Craft) in 1973." But, he was added that because he has a penchant for his craft since the very beginning, he considers himself a born artist.

Spaul is inclined towards the Realism and Calligraphy genres of painting, when it comes to selecting a topic or theme for most of his work. "Realistic art was my theme for the current collection that was displayed online.” According to him, his moods gravitate towards Calligraphy especially in the holy month of Ramadan and that the galleries also demand the same, so he starts before time to complete his work without any delays. He explained the ways and techniques of creating his pieces of wonder upon asking: "I thoroughly brainstorm to come up with a theme for my painting, after that I arrange the whole set-up for doing the photography and then, I finally start to put that all on my canvas." I asked him to tell me about his journey of doing art shows, "I've done almost seven solo shows and numerous group shows at various places, out of which I've stood on the first position thrice and have won many other awards as well."

I wondered whether his work after completion appeared to be perfect to him or not, posing the question to the solo exhibitionist, he answers, "No, whenever I complete any of my paintings, I do find a fault in it after critically examining myself. I then, try to eliminate the fault next time. So I find every next painting of mine better than the previous one." I couldn't agree more with Spaul here as it is so rightly said, a true creator never raves about any of his creation, but only strives to get better with time. Lastly, I asked him to tell me about the encounters he has had, with the attendees of his numerous exhibitions and the people who follow his work, he tells me he has been very lucky in this regard, “never have I ever experienced any situation where people faced difficulties in exploring any of my work. They only by seeing, tend to understand the essence of my paintings." Spaul's paintings are so beautiful to say the least, perfect strokes and precise lines, that nobody can pass them by without sparing a thought to wonder.