Art from the heart

Careen J Langstieh excels in capturing moods of women on canvas, says Nawaz Yasin Islam

PAINTINGS HAVE always been regarded as end-all and be-all of our work, which is contrary to the truth that such forms of expressions have come about from the culture that we inherited.

The contribution of the modern era – that is from Renaissance forward – was that we became free from an understanding of the universe where we were defined in terms of some larger cosmic order which in turn, as was the assumption, manifested the word of God. The new modern view was, instead, that we are self-defining.

In most of the paintings, we, as subjects, picture the world as a set of neutral objects, which we then observe or measure or manipulate. Every artist turns out to be self-defining subjects – a historical accomplishment indeed. But artists also become creative subjects that are separate from the objects painted, and that is the part of the achievement which is still troubling, for it means the task of the artist is rooted largely in observing or commenting on the world and recording our observations or commentary on canvas (or not).

Careen J Langstieh, a city-based artist who has embodied in her paintings, the truest sense of art, put up her work for display in a solemn yet responsive exhibition held at the Martin Luther Christian University on September 26. Langstieh has been often referred to as artist known to portray subject steeped in time-honoured custom with a spectacularly contemporary aesthetics.

The source of ideas for a masterpiece varies with her works. For some paintings, the jolt of idea comes from photographs and for acrylics, the idea of the perfect stroke lies deep in her imagination. Spontaneity is synonymous with her work ideas.

Most of Langstieh’s paintings depict women in various moods. “Being a woman, there are many experiences I have been through and I try to portray some on my canvas,” she said, adding that the water colour arena has a focus inclined towards still life. Her water colour paintings depict the use of newspapers in every way possible other than what it is intended for!

“I have used personal objects and things lying around and wrapped them in newspapers, and painted them,” she said while highlighting the fact that she loves the texture and text of newspapers and her paintings revolve around the subject idea that newspapers present both pleasing and displeasing things to read.

Langstieh was more than eager to divulge her techniques used in creating magnificent works of art. “When it comes to acrylics, I emphasise on the colour and I like my colours to be unique, so I mix my own colours. In that way you become consistent. I like textures too,” she said adding that most of her works are not realistically depicted and have a surreal sense to it, yet remaining expressive.

Langstieh is of the firm belief that in paintings, both the subject and object holds importance. Describing paintings beyond acrylics, Langstieh said, “When it comes to water colours, I am very particular. I like good paper and focus a lot on the colours. Using paper, you can’t exceed three to four layers as beyond that, the art becomes muddy.”

An art enthusiast from childhood, Langstieh credits her current status to her mentor, late MH Barbhuyan who according to her, moulded her as an artist and imbibed in her, the technicalities of art. “I have always wanted to be an artist since I was a child and in that way it never occurred to me that I would venture into anything other than painting,” she said. “I paint everyday and whenever I have the urge to dab my brush in paint,” she added.

Elaborating the role of an artist in the society, Langstieh said, “An artist has the artistic licence to say what they want on canvas and that gives them a platform to express their innermost feelings. A lot depends on how it is perceived by people. An artist can surely can a lot of views to everyday things.”

On the progress of art in Meghalaya, Langstieh said, “I have a lot of friends who are involved in this arena and I believe that we will have a great art community in the coming years” while at the same time mentioning that there is a desperate need for a gallery because artists can undoubtedly work from home but if there is no place to display the works, then justice is something that is vehemently denied to the paintings.

The exhibition of Langstieh’s paintings is set apart from many such events considering that there was no particular theme for the day’s programme. “If I keep a theme, I won’t have the freedom to express. At the back of my mind there will always be a theme hindering my works,” she said.

“I want to go for a residency if I do get a chance as I want to grow more and improve myself every day,” said Langstieh who feels that she has a long way to go in her journey of brushing towards glory.

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