THE ART OF TOUCHING THE SOUL

The Man Magazine | Dubai, 2008. Nasr jokingly owes his initiation into the fascinating world of literature to a fracture of the leg.


"I was 11, bedridden with a broken leg and surrounded by a library of books. That's when I read the entire works of Shakespeare and discovered my love for the written word. I haven't stopped since."

Over the years Nasr has exhibited his work at several art forums in many Arab countries and has received numerous prestigious awards. His work has been much appreciated in his home country, Syria. When I asked him to pick one thing he's done in his illustrious career that he regards as his proudest, he said, "I am proudest of the thing I am yet to do." "One must derive inspiration and encouragement from one's environment but progress for the betterment of self and not for the sake of progress," he says profoundly. "Art cleanses you." It must exorcise the negative from the soul of the artist and make him a better person and his world a better place. Words which at first strike as superior but have a simple meaning; art is an expression and if the expression is true, it is pure, devoid of unnecessary influences. Nasr recently showed his new collection, South Passage, to rave reviews at Dubai's Community and Theatre Arts Centre (DUCTAC). In his description, the paintings bypass the barriers of the human body and achieve a connection between the soul and its universe through one's touchpoint, the feet.

What plans does he have for the future?


There is much on the cards, he informs me; in the near future, Nasr hopes to bring 'South Passage' to Delhi, As I say goodbye, having spent more than four hours trying to discover this complex yet down-to-earth man and his art, I still can't figure out how he makes his paintings come alive, how he takes all those thoughts and splashes them across a 30x30 canvas in a riot of colours? But as I see him scurry from the coffee shop, desperate for a cigarette, I walk away thinking, maybe I've been asking the wrong questions.


Nasr Warour's collection of oil on canvas paintings, titled 'South Passage' will be traveling to Delhi later this year.


Nasr could have been just another spoilt Persian Gulf mall rat, as he settles into a chair at a coffee shop in one of the fanciest malls in Dubai, cribbing about the new smoking ban. But soon we leave his superficial self behind and delve into a discussion on life, art, and philosophy. And I discover the depth of artistry and life in this man of many passions.


Meet Nasr Warour, Syrian-born artist. And life aficionado. Nasr tackles the off-tangent relationship between people and places through his paintings, exploring the cultural dimensions of society, through the medium of realistic expressionism.


While that started barely a decade ago, his artistic evolution has been a much longer expedition, covering, as he emphatically states, three distinct phases in his life. The first was discovering, and defining, his talent and expressing it through sculpture, oil painting, and reading. The second was marked by the formal training he pursued, which allowed him to explore his capabilities and skills and absorb ideas.


And finally, in the third phase, Nasr looked within himself. It was a period marked with introspection, sieving through levels of emotions and intellect to arrive at his own mode of expression that carries his message.


So what is that message? He explains, "I try to speak a language through my paintings that everyone can understand and empathize with. What I paint comes from experience, human experience in human settings. It goes beyond the realm of culture and traditions. The subject is always the soul, not the superficial.


Nasr's interests span art, sculpture and literature. His love affair with art started, in fact, with sculpture. He describes that time in his life with a sparkle in his eye, "Sculpture for me was something I could do with my eyes closed, using only my fingers and my imagination. It's real, it's one's connection with the Earth," he says, rubbing his fingers together. Literature has been another area of interest for this eclectic artist. He writes poetry in Arabic and often expresses it through his paintings.