A Fascinating Art Exhibition
By Fatima S. Khan


House in Tuscany by Nasreen Haroon

Nasreen Haroon’s current art exhibition at the Schomburg Gallery in Santa Monica is a magical expression of scenic beauty and vibrant colors. It captures the moods of nature and transcends cultural and global boundaries, presenting art that communicates with “Nature”. The breathtaking mountains of Tuscany in Italy, the cool blue lake and lush green mountains in Switzerland and the famous Santa Monica beaches - one common thread binds them all - “Nature” - and that is the constant message conveyed while viewing the paintings whether as a series or individually. We are part of a “Whole”.
When you view the exhibition you smile. Each painting elicits the same response. The entire collection exudes a sense of happiness. The bright colors, the windswept palms, sandy beaches, deep blue ocean, the floating clouds-----uplift and indulge us with a sense of “Lightness of Being”.
The skies remind one of Georges Seurat’s paintings with their juxtaposition of brightly hued dots- lavender, pink, orange, yellow and blue. The brushstrokes not only create a vibrant background for the palms but they also intensify the sense of motion of the windswept palm trees which are depicted from various angles.
Palm trees have fascinated many poets and artists historically. One such person was Abd ar Rahman I who was a Syrian from the Umayyad Dynasty. In 750 AD the Umayyads were overthrown by the Abbasids. Abd ar Rahman I was then only twenty years old. He sought refuge in Cordoba, Spain where he established a kingdom and built mosques and summer palaces surrounded by gardens. He called this place Al-Rusafa after his palace in Palmyra, Syria. There he wrote the following nostalgic poem entitled “The Palm”:

“In Rusafa I came upon a Palm;
Here in these Western lands a sight so rare,
I said: you stand alone, like me so far from home,
You miss the children and the loved ones there;
You have not grown tall in native soil.
Like you I must breathe the alien air.”

Nasreeen Haroon

Nasreen’s Tuscany series is even more captivating. It is inspired by the mountains and the flower fields of Tuscany - the result of Nasreen’s numerous travels to Italy where she was enchanted by the verdant beauty of Tuscany. Once again, Nasreen lets “Nature” guide her; the Lilac fields are bursting with color, her gentle strokes bring them to life and the eye is fixated, for a moment -feeling and being part of the scene. The bright colors transport the viewer to faraway lands. An artist who can indulge her viewers with such thoughts, is truly an accomplished one. Another outstanding feature of the Tuscany landscapes is the juxtaposition of man and nature. For instance, the house with the red tiled roof is tucked into a lush landscape of breathtaking green mountains and flower fields of mesmerizing color.
“Monet’s Garden” depicts the French Impressionist Claude Monet’s garden in Giverny. The pink house with its green accents strongly suggests a human bond with Nature. The house sits in the background, while in the foreground is the serene lily pond with its brightly colored flowers. Spring is in full bloom. Similar to the French Impressionists who sought to capture the delightful landscape scenes in the morning light, Nasreen also depicts Nature as Creator, Protector and Guardian. The scene is breathtaking and the landscape has a dreamlike quality.
The Burano, Italy painting stands on its own. It is confident and strong. The wooden boats are a sign of journeys, while the airing of white laundry could be construed as purity of thoughts. The strong bold colors are unusual and brilliantly attractive. In an interview Nasreen stated, “I felt compelled to create this painting to fulfill a need for vibrant color in my life.”
Nasreen has had numerous exhibitions during the past ten years; however, her crowning achievement to date was when she was asked by the US State Department to loan some of her paintings for display at US Embassies in Islamabad, Pakistan; Dakar, Senegal and Abu Dhabi, UAE through the Art In Embassies Program. Just last week, Nasreen was named a US Cultural Envoy to the United Arab Emirates which will involve teaching at several American universities, holding master classes and mentoring in early 2007. Concurrently, her paintings will be exhibited in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah, UAE.
Nasreen Haroon’s exhibition is at the Schomburg Gallery in Santa Monica until December 2, 2006. Schomburg Gallery is located at 2525 Michigan Avenue E3A, Santa Monica, CA 90404. (Phone: 310-453-5757) You may also view it online at www.schomburggallery.com


Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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