Nazlee Laila Mansur likes to tell the story of women in the society through her paintings.
Though the 65-year old artist does not claim herself as a feminist, women’s reality and psyche have been dominating elements in her works.
‘Women, their reality and psyche have been the themes for my works time and again in local context. But my approach to women is not that of a feminist’s, though I like to tell women’s story which is mine too’, Nazlee Laila said.
She never generalises women as the marginalised or oppressed; she rather presents women as active individuals in the society which differentiates her works from the others.
In an interview with New Age, Nazlee shared about her journey as an artist, past shows, observation on today’s artists and more.
Born in 1952 in Rajshahi, Nazlee completed her MA in Fine Arts from the University of Chittagong and has taught at Chittagong Art College for over 30 years.
Influenced by rickshaw art and cinema banners, Nazlee has created a signature style of painting of her own where she uses vibrant colours and applies the photorealism technique.
‘My paintings are always colourful and bright like the rickshaw paintings and cinema banners. I think bright and vibrant colours fit my topics’, Nazlee said, whose aim from the very beginning has been to work with local pop art.
Nazlee believes that the art arena is no longer solely dominated by the west as new styles are being created by artists across the world.
‘If we want to get ourselves placed on the world art map we must create our own styles and depict our reality on canvas in such styles’, says Nazlee, who has four solo shows to her credit.
In her long career, Nazlee has come across different styles and subjects to work on. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Nazlee found herself to be self-reflexive and most of her works reverberated that.
‘Every anomaly I noticed, at home or outside, compelled me to protest. But as I could not demonstrate in the streets, I protested through my works’, shared Nazlee, who has produced many works under a series titled ‘Bandaged Bondage’. In the series she imagined herself in isolation, from where nothing could be done for the society and others.
This sense of powerlessness made Nazlee more cynical towards her own self and works.
‘I started to doubt the value my own paintings and the impact they could have on the society. I thought my canvases were mere outlets of my own anguish and agony. I eventually entered a phase and began criticising and satirising my own works in my series titled ‘Usable Paintings’, said Nazlee.
Besides self-reflexive paintings, Nazlee has also depicted environmental issues in many of her recent works like people’s utter disregard for nature, environment and more.
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