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Poetry on canvas

Paris-based Yaseen Khan’s works, made over 40 years, are being displayed in his maiden exhibition in the city.

art and culture Updated: Oct 26, 2010 16:33 IST
Shweta Mehta

A week long exhibit of paintings by Yaseen Khan will be showcased in India for the first time. The Paris-based artist of Indian origin has had an illustrious career, spanning over 40 years. He is known for his signature style of interspersing poetic verses with images in his paintings.

World is Poetry is a compilation of more than 100 works by Khan. “It will constitute most of my life’s works,” he says. Khan has always been inspired by poetry and believes in the saying ‘Poet is the father of the painter’. “My paintings are an extension of poetry,” he says, adding, “I feel inspired by a few verses and start working on the canvas, so in that sense, it is just a reflection of my state of mind and the verses in the poems. Poetry is not mathematics. It has to be felt from the heart.”

Khan’s canvas is strewn with verses of some of the most renowned poets through history. Fernando Pessoa, Paul Verlaine and Guillaume are among the French poets who have inspired him. Khan has also included verses of Rabindranath Tagore. He explains, “I’ve spent a large part of my life in France, so the poets there inspire me a lot. I have used Tagore’s verses too, but ironically, I’ve read them in French.”

Khan has also developed a signature style of painting, which he believes leaves an indelible impression on people’s minds. He says, “I use gouache (water colour) and black ink, but it gives the impression of an oil painting. Just as Rembrandt was known for his unique usage of the colour red, all my colours are unique to me too.”

The artist has some advice for aficionados who wish to understand his works. “In the same manner as poetry, a painting must be read and apprehended at leisure. If you notice my creations carefully, the verses of the poems are written in a zigzag manner. This way, the viewer spends time on each word while reading.”