Written by Zena Khan
Blindspot is a 2014 painting by renowned contemporary artist Ahmad Fuad Osman. Beautifully finished, the painting combines elements of realism and abstraction and as such continues the deeply philosophical thread that links several of Fuad’s key works together.
In medical terms, a blind spot is the point of entry on the optic nerve that is insensitive to light; the term has been appropriated in popular vocabulary, however, to describe an area in which a person would lack understanding or impartiality. With Blindspot, Fuad speaks to intellectuals within society – artists, scientists, politicians and such who reach a level of success that leads them to forget anything exists other than themselves and their accomplishments. As Fuad understands it, the path to success is complex and full of trials and uncertainty. Fuad views two challenges for those who embark on this life: the first is attaining success and the second is deciding what to do with that success. He observes the human trait of pride, which particularly rears its head when one finds success. In Islamic traditions, Allah tests believers not only with trials and tribulations, but often also with wealth, health and happiness.
In Fuad’s estimations, art sits next to religion. He comments that one of the most effective ways to gain access to higher spiritual realms and God is through the creation and appreciation of art; for art involves observing and analysing one’s surroundings. For the artist, regular observation and comprehension of the world around him has sealed his faith in an unseen Higher Being. Finding parallels between science and art – both involve experimentation, observing and dissecting the natural world – he equates the practice of science to the practice of art, and therefore to the practice of religion. Fuad’s ruminations on life and death are well-documented; indeed, several of his key works such as Fragile and Mat Jenin act as a reminder for the artist of the presence of God. He likens himself to an empty vessel, whose purpose is to act as the medium through which God carries out his Divine Work. To the artist, this understanding is crucial for keeping the ego in check.
To the right of Blindspot is the portrait of Stephen Hawking, a physicist and undisputed genius of our times. Hawking suffers from a degenerative motor neuron disease, which has rendered him paralysed. Fuad paints the great physicist in his specially adapted wheelchair, turning to look out at the audience with a piercing gaze. Fuad’s love of portraiture is well-documented throughout his career, and the seed for Blind Spot was planted when the artist saw a photograph of Hawking in his wheelchair. For Fuad to capture the essence of his portraiture subjects, he delves deep into their characters, and so set about researching the life of Hawking in depth. Hawking possesses one of the most intelligent minds of the twenty-first century, and yet remains physically trapped. For Fuad, whose portfolio is bound together by an almost Sufi train of thought on the boundaries in life, this great paradox between the mind and body triggered an in-depth reflection into the gratitude that spirituality teaches humans. The left of the canvas is an abstract expressionist background, harking back to the early abstract period with which the artist began his career. Viewers can note this linkage as a personal visual reminder of a time when Fuad was still embroiled in the search for success, thereby acting as a warning to the artist about the dangers in allowing the ego to take over.
Fuad is respected as an established multi-disciplinary artist, whose primary aim is the transmission of his deeply philosophical concept to his audience. As such, he views painting as the clearest way to transmit the thoughts behind Blindspot, enabling it to act not only as a reminder to his audience but also himself about the importance of holding onto one’s spirituality. Additionally it beautifully showcases both the abstract expressionist and figurative abilities that have garnered Fuad a large following and the title of one of the foremost contemporary artists in Malaysia.
Artist: Ahmad Fuad Osman
Size: 143 cm x 182 cm
Medium: Oil on Canvas