Hussein Rostum’s art show, Blazing Colours, definitely lives up to its name.
The exhibition consists mostly of abstract paintings. It’s the local artist’s first solo show and it’s on display at the Chilliwack Cultural Centre until Aug. 6.
The vibrant colours explode off the canvas and each piece is much brighter in real life than what people would see in photos or online.
“It makes life so much more pleasant to have colour in your life,” Rostum said. “Plus colour gives you warmth.”
Born in Egypt and later living in Ottawa, Rostum moved to Chilliwack with his wife two and a half years ago. He’s been painting for as long as he can remember and credits his late father, who was an artist and architect, for inspiring him and his three siblings to take up art.
“It brought us together as young children. But now as we’re getting older, it still bringing us together.”
His unique creations range from exuberant explorations that excite the imagination to profound pieces that calm the soul. His paintings use vivid, compelling colour combinations to tell evocative stories.
Rostum said his goal is to “create colourful paintings that intrigue, engage and inspire.”
Most of the paintings in Blazing Colours are abstract, but there are also pieces with subjects like whales, camping in the mountains, soaring eagles and various landscapes and cityscapes.
He said he had an epiphany about painting abstract impressionistic motifs.
“You don’t necessarily have to have an excitable object in your painting because colour can be the exciting subject. My approach is not just to throw colours on the canvas, there should be some structure and balance and some form that goes with it.”
Recently, he’s been experimenting with painting local scenes like the Chilliwack River, which he’s hoping will take him to the next stage in his life as an artist.
His motto is ‘Nulla dies sine linea’ which is Latin for ‘Not a day without a line’ – be it either in verse, in writing or in painting.
“As you get older, it becomes more poignant to have this as a motto,” Rostum said.
Nulla dies sine linea is also the title of one of the poems in his show. Another is titled Pietà.
Many years ago he was in the Vatican where he got a close-up view of Michelangelo’s Pietà. Made out of solid marble, the sculpture was incredibly realistic, Rostum said.
Although he didn’t touch it, back then people could get much closer to the sculpture than they can today. He could see every little detail.
“You could actually almost feel the veins… if you pressed your finger on it, it would press in, it would move,” he recalled imagining. “I was so moved.”
He went back to his hotel room and wrote this poem titled Pietà:
Withered are these veins of mine
Through which no waters seep.
Tired are the tourists’ feet
Seeing me collapsed, divine.
Beauty’s hands have made me weak,
Brought a joy to many, to some a weep.
And still, to others, Michelangelo speaks:
“This is Christ, behold!”
And they all come, silent.
Yet through these withered veins of mine,
No waters seep.
At 75 years old, Rostum said he’s “very excited” about his first solo show and he’s looking forward to meeting visitors in person and chatting with them about his work. He will be in the gallery for many of the days that the show is running.
“I hope my work can motivate people to make art and beauty an ongoing part of their lives, as it has always been in mine.”
Hussein Rostum’s art show, Blazing Colours, is at the O’Connor Group Art Gallery in the Chilliwack Cultural Centre from June 29 to Aug. 6. The opening reception is Saturday, July 9 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Gallery hours are noon to 5 p.m. Wednesday to Saturday. Admission is free.