Press Reviews

“Bismillah Exhibition”

Aziza Essa’s work bridges multiple histories and cultures on canvas. Her art speaks to audiences from many contexts and backgrounds and like the living tapestry of life you can see her changing moods reflected in the peaks and troughs, whirls and curves of her abstract representations.

Aziza’s insights and her honesty makes her work accessible to connoisseur’s of art as well as the casual observer and as her reputation grows, her art takes on greater depth and significance.

Aziza Essa is amongst the new wave of young artists emerging from Britain who are tackling complex issues through vibrant colour and great technical expertise and offering a new and strong identity that fits snugly into our global village.

Copyright ©  Zahid Hussain, Author

“Moods on Canvas”
The exhibition of nine paintings by local Lancastrian artist Aziza Essa is a colourful and convincing ensemble.  The pieces mostly evoke differing and direct emotions, such as the forceful “Red Rage” and “Swept Away”.  But the works are not merely on this simplistic or general level: “Indispensible” and “Rippled” are rather less obvious and explore the artist s more personal complex thoughts and emotions.  This is a refreshing change from some of the imponderable and arcane musings often seen in exhibition handouts and press releases.  The pieces certainly speak to my emotions.  To the other acid test – “would i want any of this work in my house? – the answer is Yes.  They are bright, clear and strong, and technically well executed.  Here is no sign of pretence or arty-farty-speak.  Above all, perhaps, this is excellent work from a local lancaster artist that deserves a wider audience.

Copyright ©  Michael Nunn – Virtual Lancaster.

Following the success of her recent show at The Dukes’ Gallery local artist Aziza Essa has been busy painting, and some of her creations are now on show at The Gregson. This collection of seven pieces reflects Aziza’s attitude to the creative process, and throws new light on her approach to her work.
Perhaps the most striking piece, to this viewer’s eyes and mind at least, is Volcanic Rush, a dramatic study in vivid hues of purple which skilfully evokes the heat, turbulence and raw energy of molten lava. Seen from both close-up and from a distance, the elemental forces are immediately and strongly communicated.
Lutfiyah, the title of the second piece, is a word from the Arabic meaning delicate or graceful, and conveys different emotions entirely. This is the artist in contemplative mood, and again features violet textures. The complementary third and fourth pieces, Indispensable and Crimson, echo the large colour blocks of early twentieth-century masters.

The larger-scale Turbulence, seen at The Dukes, uses gold leaf in imaginative and unusual ways. As opposed to using size to fix the gold onto the work, she applies it straight onto the wet paint, which makes for harsher and more interesting textures than are usually associated with this medium.

The last two pieces, Almost Beautiful and Green Jazz are, says Aziza, “more positive in mood’. She acknowledges the influence of music on her feelings as well as her work. The pieces are certainly vibrant: “You want to dance to jazz’, she says.

Recycling is an important consideration for Aziza and, like other artists, musicians and writers, happily recycles her own work. Crimson has been painted over Violent Nature which was in The Dukes’ exhibition.

Art is “cleansing, therapeutic’
Like many creative people, Aziza finds her work “cleansing … therapeutic for me’, helping her through “the low points’ in her life. She is moved to “recreate dreams – it’s to do with vision,’ she says. Emotions were an important component of The Dukes’ show and, for me, the strength of her work lies in her ability to communicate those emotions.

“We all have these’, she asserts, but we “don’t always tune into it, we block it off’. She achieves this essential, vital communication without being patronising or glib and, thankfully, there is no trace of the self-indulgence and meaningless weighty ‘artspeak’ so beloved of so many ‘respectable’ galleries and artists.

Dreams and other aspects of vision and perception are also important. For her, the creative process has more than one dimension. “Dreams are quite an inspiration for me … In dreams, you might just get a flavour of things – and you use these flavours to build on, to make some interesting layers”, she says.

Aziza has recently taken a commission from “a friend’ for a piece in cream and brown, which is too polychromatic for her liking because “I usually work in colour’, she says, with the emphasis on the colour bit. “Colour affects everything’. She, of Gujarati descent, was coy about another potential commission to make pieces for a planned show to challenge ethnic stereotypes.

What is fascinating about the woman is that she admits to having had “no formal training’. I am neither a cosy coffee-table-traditionalist nor anti the avant-garde and modern art, but I am sure that work of this calibre from a formally untutored hand ranks heads and shoulders before much of what is seen in other, more lauded venues. You know where they are hereabouts…

Copyright ©  Michael Nunn – Virtual Lancaster.

“Moods on Canvas”, a collection of paintings now on show at the Dukes, tackes the expression of violent and non violent feelings in a head on fashion.  Lancastrian artist Aziza Essa uses oil paint to convey subtle, powerful, but also everyday emotions – “the joys of life, the frustrations of life and even the vices of life”.  This form of “art therapy” is not confined to victims of emotional trauma, but applied to a gallery audience.  Painting has long been a “creative and emotional outlet” for the young indian artist, and she talks of psychology influencing her work.  Seeing the paintings can also deliver a sense of expressive freedom to the viewer.  I found paintings such as “Swept Away” and “Turbulence” confident and sincere enough to lend them originality and boldness, but also an authenticity that enabled me to empathise.  Everyone has to decide for themselves how universal a language of emotion “Moods on Canvas” uses, and whether they can recognise some of their own experience in paintings such as “Waterfalls”, or even the crowded and dark “Red Rage”.  The expression is free of stereotypes, and increasingly varied the more you look.  I found myself thinking about how far feelings can be shared or communicated, and how far they are confined to the individual.  “Turbulence”, for example seemed to extend beyong the canvas, as if it were part of a larger image, bringing to mind a universal experience felt by an individual.  If paintings make you think and feel it must be a good sign.  Each persons thoughts and feelings may be entirely different but surely thats what makes us a creative audience.

Goska Romanowicz- The Visitor, Lancaster.

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