November 14, 2008
The magic of good art and good artiste is that it just happens and it is something that cannot be explained. An artiste is a creator and if he is able to invoke strong emotions in others with his meaningful creations, he certainly possesses magneticism, magic and spirit in his creations in abundance. Dr Akhter Husain, a product of this coastal city, is an artiste par excellence endowed with this rare talent as his creations have succeeded in making people think and think again, reflect and ultimately react, thus arousing vivid emotions in them. International awards and accolades have added a certain vow factor to his persona as an artiste and he is certainly raring to go.
An Orthodontist by profession Dr Akhter nurtures a strong fervor for art as a hobby. Over the years this hobby has become an obsession of immense satisfaction and it can be said that ‘sky is the limit’ for his creative surge which is waiting to explode with a big bang effect. Approaching 50, it looks as though experience, experimentation and exposure have added a touch of maturity to his creations.
Creativity – the key factor
Dr Akhter always had a penchant for art in its multifaceted form and visual art has been his forte. He combines photography, digital technology and the traditional paint to give vent to his creative imaginations and give life to the mysteries and delicate intricacies of nature in an abstract form. He says “Curiosity is the key to creativity. It is not afraid of failures. An artiste is someone who creates or captures the beauty of mundane situations into moments of intense feelings or emotions”.
By his own submissions he is not a purist and uses modern technology and combination of different modes to explore and experiment so as to give vent to his creative impulses. “My work starts with camera, gets worked in the computers and later gets printed in the canvas”, he admits. Fortunately, he has chosen a profession – Orthodontics, which calls for a good degree of aesthetic sensibility. Of course, choosing a profession and a hobby had its own conflicts. His father wanted him to be a doctor, for his considered ‘art as a great hobby but a poor profession’. Akhter, however, wanted to be an artist and as he puts it succinctly “I ended up in between”. Further he says “dentistry is basically an art work and skill. A dentist with an artistic bent of mind will do much better in his profession. The world is biased towards good looking people and I am happy to use my skills to put smiles on those faces born with deformities”.
The tight-rope walking
Over the years he has been able to strike a balance between his profession and his passionate hobby despite the pulls and pressures of a demanding profession and the myriad responsibilities that go with it. He is serving as the Professor and Head of the Department of Orthodontics and Dent facial Orthopedics at Yenepoya Dental College and Secretary, Governing Council, Yenepoya Medical and Dental Colleges, Mangalore. He also runs a private practice and amidst this busy schedule he squeezes at least 2 hours everyday to indulge in his passion of creating art endlessly.
Dr Akhter’s father was a businessman who was a lover of music and art. It can be said that art runs in the family and as he recalls “I have been drawing images ever since I have been able to hold a pencil in my hand”. But he was oblivious of the extraordinary talent bubbling within him. As it happens in most cases his talent was spotted by others. “I remember sketching images in whatever I could find and my teacher in Canara High School used to collect whatever I drew and left behind. She was the first one to recognize my talent”, he recalls.
“Basically we are all born with some talents. When we grow up we tend to give it up. The only difference with me is that I held on to the rope of art. I had lot of reasons to give up but stuck to it despite all odds” he says. Initially his obsession had an impact on his formal studies. But as years passed by he was mature enough to prioritize the needs of the moment. He graduated in Dentistry from Davanagere College and did his Post graduation from KMC, Manipal. The inspiration to be a dentist came from his neighbour late Dr I J Benny, a leading dentist of his time. Akhter used to visit his clinic often spending his evening with him and was enamored by what he saw. To put in his own words “Dr Benny had the best teeth setting in Mangalore those days and I saw art in Dr Benny’s work”.
It was during his medical education that Dr Akhter took to photography seriously. He made best use of the library of Davanagere Art College to gain more proficiency. For sometime he tried his hand at taxidermy (the art of preparing, stuffing and mounting the skin of animals) but gave up seeing the cruelty involved in it and was slowly drawn towards wild photography.
Endless possibilities through technology
Advancement in digital technology offered enormous scope for Dr Akhter to express himself better and improvise his creativity. Being an artist, photographer and digital graphic specialist offers him boundless opportunities and possibilities to experiment and explore. He is now concentrating more on visual arts, which has now come to be recognized as a separate branch of art.
He draws his inspiration from nature which offers infinite possibilities for an artiste. Flowing water is also dearer to his heart and most often brings a series of works on a particular topic. For an artiste there is art in everything. His creation “The Look” is nothing but a three photographs of three different stones put together to get that stunning look. A piece of wood that he picked up from a forest was transformed into a marvelous piece of art work by Dr Akhter when he embellished it with a human eye. This creation fetched him an award in New York. The guru-shishya is another creation, a mixture of traditional with contemporary that gives an insight about the creator and the talent nurtured by creativity. He likes action and his creation “Kambala” has won him both popularity and recognition. He advocates limited edition prints to give exclusivity for art aficionados and prevent plagiarism.
Awards and accolades have poured in from all parts of the globe ever since he first came into limelight in 1999 by winning the Maruti Esteem Photo Contest. His “Grip of life” won the commonwealth Photo award in 2002. Since then he was bagged international awards every year. He shot into international fame when his “Sky is the Limit” was selected for the end Annual Art of Digital Show at San Diego in USA in 2007 from among the 83 finalists. “I began sending entries for these competitions to assess myself and to know where I stand as an artiste”, he opines.
Of late Dr Akhter has been concentrating on primitive art of India and is particularly interested in lifting visuals from primitive art. He feels India is a paradise for photographers as its rich heritage offers humungous opportunities for their creative pursuits. Opening a gallery in the city is also taking shape in his mind and he is doing the groundwork for the same. .
THE BALANCING ACT
His obsession with his hobby has gone through its own domestic skirmishes. His wife Haseena has always been supportive of his hobby. But an artiste goes through a surge of moods and in the 20 years of the marriage Haseena has learnt it better. “He is not a moody person as such but used to get irritated if I call him to sit beside me”. Dr Akhter adds “in the initial years of marriage she was more attached to me but now she feels I need to achieve something in the field of art which is dearer to me”.
Despite his demanding schedule he gives top priority to his family and squeezes time to spend with his wife and three daughters Tanya (20) Zoya (15) and Riya (13). Being the only male amidst 4 ladies he can ignore them at his own peril (!). It can certainly be said that talent runs in the Akhter family and as adoring father he sees talent in all the three. Eldest daughter is studying dentistry. His second daughter Zoya is a class X students and has inherited his father’s talent but in a twisted form and is emerging as a promising creative writer. A voracious reader she was one of the 16 finalists nationwide selected from among 10, 00,000 students from 5000 schools and 34 cities in a short story writing competition edited by celebrated writer Ruskin Bond. Youngest daughter Riya is a class VIII student and has taken on the other interests of her father like playing and experimenting with clay.
7th Heaven Dr Akhter’s tastefully done home at Fathima Apartments in Britto Road amply mirrors the man and his creative instinct. Aptly titled, it serves as the perfect milieu for the creative artist in him to get the required vitality to transform his creativity into beautiful works of art. As he plans to devote more attention to his hobby in the days to come one can expect Dr Akhter to create more ripples in the art world.
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