BERLIN: XANADU/Partizan- Mustashrik Mahbub a Retrospective
Xanadu was Partizan’s exhibition taking place in Berlin at Torstrasse 161 this past week as part of Pictoplasma, Festival and Conference of Contemporary Character Design and Art.
Mustashrik Mahbub’s work transports you into a fantastic dream rock and roll world of illustrations and characters that you wished existed in real life.
When did you start sketching and do you have a specific memory why you were keen to do this?
I’ve been drawing forever. I remember sketching from a very early age, as early as one can remember, with crayons on discarded bits of paper or the back of my mothers psychology thesis and research documents. As we moved around a lot, being immigrants to the country, we didn’t have many possessions in the way of toys and entertainment, but the perfect transient companion for me was a pen and paper. This always helped me express and develop my sense of self and these worlds within me. It’s my purest and biggest passion in life. My first love. I will keep on drawing forever.
Do you still remember your first most “valuable” drawing?
My first most valuable drawing was probably this one in this photograph here. I must have been four years old here, in Sheffield, England. It’s a really crude drawing of a man, essentially my first character design. Simple, sweet. I think looking back now it’s not so surprising that my design speciality is character design and persona’s.
What are your inspirations when you create your characters?
Emotions, the people I meet, the people I have met, and the people I still know. Stories, the ones I’ve heard, the days I’ve lived and the places I’ve been. Everything, from what I see, touch and smell. I just absorb every moment I can and never forget it, because these are what make up the individual chapters of ones life story.
What has been your hardest challenge as an artist?
Finding the right creative support to try develop yourself as an artist and not just be one that is used for the development of others. I’m not even talking specifically about funding, I’m talking about spiritual and emotional support. It’s taken a while to find the few around me who believe in what I’m trying to do and genuinely encourage me upward and onward, and now that I have found them, they are my greatest treasures.
What is the main subject of your show here in Berlin and what made you choose it?
The subject of my show is this internal world of mine and a visual narrative love letter from a story I’ve created called BIGMAN. I’ve lived with this concept for years and have been writing the story as an opus, a book, exhibit and film. This story has powerful themes very inherent in all my works; music, girls, heroes and monsters, robots and horses, all told through a deeply personal love story, with layers upon layers of subtext. All told with a hyper real sense of romanticism. Through the extreme dramatisation of actions and events through heroes and heroins, I’m really able to get an emotional point across. It’s the second time I’ve publicly shown any of this body of work (the first piece without context was shown in Cannes and London in 2012 as part of Art Sells), and it just feels for me the right time to make my personal and secret work available for viewing. Berlin felt like the best place to reveal my sketchbooks and world as I spiritually have felt at home here and the relaxed way of living and transient self means it wasn’t to stressful an experience putting it together as say it would have been in London.
If you could make one of your artworks come to life, which one would you choose and why?
I think the artworks that I would like to bring to life the most is a tricky one, as for me depending on my mood or where I am in life, I retreat back into one of the specific worlds I’m developing/creating through art and storytelling. I’ll say some names, that might not mean anything now, but with perseverance, dedication and hard work will in a few years be at some stage of developed visual presentation; BIGMAN (of course), Lullaby and Mira & The Monoliths.