Her paintings are simple and straight from the heart. Mona Naqsh is fascinated by flowers and her aim is to capture every nuance of their beauty. Naqsh's first solo exhibition in Dubai, curated by Aisha Imtiaz of Poetic Strokes, is titled When Flowers Talk. It features her latest paintings of flowers done in pencil, ink, water-colour and oil on paper and canvas.
"I am not interested in conceptual art. I believe in simplicity. I get inspired by the beauty of nature and feel a deep connection with it. And I want to share this beauty with my viewers and establish a similar connection between my paintings and them. Although these are still life paintings, they are full of emotion because flowers convey emotions of love, friendship, happiness, serenity and peace," the artist says.
Naqsh strives for a realistic depiction of the flowers. She wants viewers to feel the delicate texture of the petals and perceive the many shades of the same colour present in every bunch. She delights in capturing the play of light on individual flowers and the vases and recreating the surroundings and details such as the grains of wood on the window panes in the background.
The daughter of Jamil Naqsh, one of Pakistan's best-known contemporary artists, Naqsh grew up surrounded by art. She learnt to paint by watching her father working in his studio. "He used to eat, sleep, dream and live in his studio. I have tried to emulate the sincerity with which he works and the dignity that he gives to his work," she says.
Although her father is famous for his paintings of women and pigeons, Naqsh's career as an artist was inspired by a painting he had made of flowers. "They were so realistic. I could feel the crisp leaves and see the delicate shades of colour. As a child I was inspired by that painting. He was happy to see my interest in art and started putting together branches and flowers from our garden for me to paint. And gradually that became my subject," she says.
She honed her skills by copying famous floral paintings by masters such as Monet and Van Gogh. But she has now carved a niche for herself in contemporary Pakistani art with her unique style and dedicated focus on one subject. Although her home in Karachi does not have a garden, Naqsh makes sure that there are always flowers in every room. "I buy them, borrow them and sometimes even steal them from gardens in the neighbourhood. Wherever I am in the house, I am constantly studying the flowers and observing the effect of light on them. I love the transparency of the petals and the crystal vases and the drama created by the changing light, and the relationship between the different elements in the arrangements," the artist says.
"I will never be bored of painting flowers. I can paint 50 paintings of the same flower, because I see something new in it every time. When your subject is nature, it keeps opening up new paths of discovery. Creating every painting is a process of asking questions and finding answers. I am constantly thinking about the lines, colours and medium to use in my compositions and it is always exciting when I find the perfect balance," she adds.
During the exhibition, Naqsh will also release a book titled Mona, which is a compilation of articles by eminent art writers and critics, tracing her journey as an artist.When Flowers Talk is an Art Week event, and will run at DIFC Atrium, Precinct Building No 5, from March 25 to March 28.