Artist InsightFeature

Imaginative Impressions

Text by Marzana Tasnim

Taking inspiration from her everyday life, Kazi Tabassum Ahmed paints her thoughts to create compelling pieces of art. Her paintings are expressive and can encourage viewers to put on their thinking caps.

Utilising the engaging power of bright colours, she draws focus to the pressing issues of contemporary society. Just as she advocates for women’s rights, child safety, and a sustainable environment through her work, she also lets nature, city life, and a walk down the memory lane influence what she paints.

Picking up tools to draw as an infant, Tabassum’s artistic journey began even before she got around to learning alphabets. From cartoons to illustrations to sketches, she is adept at different forms of artistic expressions and knows her way around a canvas perfectly well. 

But her journey has not been free of heartbreaks. Tabassum says she felt crushed when she could not get into the Faculty of Fine Art at the University of Dhaka. But she refused to let that put out her fire. Persistently, Tabassum kept teaching herself and reaching one milestone after another by outdoing herself. Since 2017, she has been professionally drawing in newspapers and magazines, despite having no professional training in the field. She has also created covers and illustrations for books getting published in the Ekushey Book Fair.

Tabassum, who is currently pursuing her bachelor’s degree in Resource Management and Entrepreneurship, also has had her artworks on women’s rights exhibited at different events and win competitions.

Most comfortable and familiar with painting, Tabassum feels at home with acrylic colours on canvas or plywood. She also paints with pastels, watercolour, poster colour, ink, and pencil. The brush, to her, is the most important tool. She finds herself at a loss when she does not have her brush with her. But the most pressing problem transpires when she runs out of colours.

As she says, it is harder to breathe without her colours and the world does not seem quite right again until they are restocked.

When it comes to prompts, Tabassum sees potential in everything around her. The most insignificant objects to expired accessories – like, discarded juice cans or chips packets, bottles, broken watches and cameras – can find themselves on the receiving end of her careful brush strokes.

About following a particular style, Tabassum said it changes every once in a while. She takes inspiration from a lot of different artists and she is always open to learning and perfecting her craft. But she does have at least two all-time favourite artists – Ahsan Habib, whom she refers to as her “guru” when it comes to drawing cartoons and Vincent Van Gogh, whose iconic style never ceases to mesmerise this young artist.

Tabassum says if she does not draw for a while, she finds herself not being able to draw for a long time. And for someone who depends on art to express, this makes her miserable. So, to make sure she does not have to suffer from the excruciating pain of having artist’s block, Tabassum routinely sits down to draw even if it is for only five minutes. When feeling overwhelmingly uninspired, she also finds solace in looking at her old works.

As a young and driven artist, Tabassum dreams of increasing social awareness about female rights and security through her drawings. She says that in the future, she wants to create more art focusing on the importance of female literacy, women empowerment, and women’s and children’s rights as she finds the topics very close to her heart. She also desires to be a solo exhibitionist someday, enabling people around the world to think critically just by looking at her work.

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