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Abul Hisham: Intertwining Socio-cultural Spaces with Personal Narratives

1. When did you decide and what prompted you to become an artist? Please give a brief account of your challenges and struggles in your journey as an artist. Any role models? 

AH: The earliest works I saw were those done by my parents. My father, Mr KS Hamza is a businessman running an art material shop in my town. He used to do lots of drawings, especially in oil pastel and graphite. My mother, Mrs Shyma Hamza was more interested in design, embroidery, and so on. I remember my father doing a portrait of my grandfather in pencil. After returning from the shop at night, he would devote time daily to drawing and painting. Sometimes he would work in the shop when he got free time, away from customers. We kids would hang around him and watch the way he worked. Copying cartoons and landscapes were my main interest at that time.The earliest art education for me was from Kerala Kala Bhavan, a beautiful art school in my town run by an artist/ teacher, Antony Devassya, who had completed his studies from Fine Arts College, Thrissur, and Haldankar’s Fine Arts Institute, Mumbai in the early 1950s. I learned the basics of art from him. From my childhood onward, I would go to my father’s shop to help, where I would meet many interesting and talented artists. The shop became be a hub for discussions and debates on art and culture. It also gave me an opportunity to view many art catalogues and artworks.

So, for me, art and artists were not anything new. I remember my father gifting me a set of books on great artists when I was in the fourth standard. I have these books even now. But at that time I did not dream of becoming an artist. After my higher secondary course, I decided to join a fine arts course with the hope of becoming an animator, with the thought that doing a degree course in fine arts would help me. Initially, I joined the applied arts course but after some time I felt that painting was the option that I should take. The primary reason was the extensive amount of freedom one gets in painting and I was very relieved when I was transferred from applied arts to the painting department. This is where my art journey started.

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