Faria Ibrahim, better known as Farja, is a travelling artist and musician who loves to paint and perform. Having completed her Bachelor’s in Design Studies in Architecture from the University of Adelaide in Australia, she went on to pursue her Master’s in Urban Planning and Design at KTH – The Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden. The artist shares her inspirations, and experiences in a candid chat with The Daily Star.
What was your recent exhibition about?
I participated in StartUP Expo, a Spanish group exhibition curated by Monica Santiago and Mariusz Pakiela that took place at Studio33. Nearly 21 local and international artists showcased their original works in Malaga, which also happens to be the birthplace of the prominent artist, Pablo Picasso. I was the only Bangladeshi artist in the exhibition.
How did you come up with the concepts for the exhibition?
Southern Spain offers inspiration in abundance. I found my ideas for art from all my travels, fully immersing myself in nature, especially the mountains and landscape of Andalusia, the Mediterranean beaches and coastal life in Costa del Sol, the local Flamenco scene, and of course, my favourite music playlist. My husband Jakub and I travel quite frequently every time we get the chance with our chopper motorbike, which we named “Beasty”. By far, the motorbike has travelled over 50,000 miles, taking us all over Europe.
How and when did you start out as an artist?
I started to pursue art naturally since childhood, by sketching objects and figures on anything I could find, even my mother’s diary. During my early teen years, I moved to London with my family, where I had art as one of my classes. Works of great artists like Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Gauguin, Cézanne, Monet, Piet Mondrian, and many others from encyclopedias would keep me engrossed for hours as I occasionally visited the National Gallery in London with my younger sister, Fariza. I have had the privilege to train under two prominent Bangladeshi artists, Fareha Zeba and Saidul Haq Juis. I met my first client who requested paintings from me while pursuing my Master’s in Sweden. It was then when I started to create more artworks regularly. That is when Studio Farja was born. Ever since then, my art has been showcased at various places in Europe, including Rotterdam in the Netherlands, Vicenza in Northern Italy, and London, United Kingdom.
Who or what are your greatest inspirations?
When it comes to art, I am drawn to abstract expressionism and minimalism. Andy Warhol, Mark Rothko, Picasso, and Voka would be a few names from the list. Also, the photography of Nicholas Alan Cope and movies by Stanley Kubrick had a lot of influence on me. As for music, my inspiration would be Pink Floyd, Kate Bush, Dream Theater, Nightwish, Within Temptation, Tarja Turunen, Sharon den Adel, Floor Jansen, and the music of Ludovico Enaudi, Hans Zimmer, and Eric Whitacre.
How did you start out in music?
I come from a music-oriented family. I was introduced to Indian Classical, Bengali folk songs, and Nazrul Sangeet as well as songs of Atul Prashad and DL Ray. I was vocally trained under Ustad Gobinda Rabi Das and later, Jannat-E-Ferdousi Lucky. Apart from that, I never took any instrumental lessons or had formal music training. During my teen years in Dhaka, I, along with my sister, joined the rock band Nemesis as vocalists and keyboardists. Later, I was drawn to European gothic rock and metal bands which led me to create the first-ever female-fronted Gothic-operatic Bangladeshi metal band with Druids vs Dethrow, and later, Druids followed by a blues and rock band, Arcane Dreams. I was also then invited to sing as a guest singer for the band Raaga where I collaborated and sang a duet with Elita Karim. I also was a keyboardist for an album by the band Breach. I was the only woman to take part as a keyboardist at Guitar Fest 09. Moving abroad again, I collaborated and performed with several international artists, including James Bradley Junior from Crazytown, Art Terry Orchestra in London and New York, and theremin player Susi O Neill also known as Hypnotique, and also top prominent artists of Bangladesh. I was also part of the Swedish Gospel Choir Group in Stockholm, Sweden. I am currently working with Flamenco music and collaborating with some of the local Flamenco musicians, including guitarist Manuel Segura, and producing my own compositions.