The work Iqbal Hussain is a distinct depiction of fear, hatred, suppression, acrimony and rejoice. Through the canvas, one apparent feature that speaks volumes is the women who show their various moods and expressions.
Most of his work shows tyranny and cruelty at large in various forms. Hussain has cleverly revealed the numerous facades and facets of a woman’s life; her role as an oppressor, tormenter and as a victim too. The women shown through his brush are of all ages, primarily middle-aged women who have seen a lot in life and succumbed to the fate changing them into rigid, resentful and bitter women. They are also helpless victims of feudalism. The characters in his paintings clearly belong to lower middle socio segment with reason and wisdom glaringly missing. His paintings in dark hues with contrasting dress colours create a sense of allure and interest. The women adorn eastern dresses in rust, green, blue and brown with no elaborate designs or prints subliminally hinting at poverty.
His work can be divided into three clear segments; a loner, a duo or a group of women. Portrayal of a single woman is done in multiple ways. The first one is a visitor; properly dressed, perhaps at a party. The other is a stark reality of an isolation; alone staring into nothing. The third is reclining on a chair, aged and seem to be tired of the worldly affairs.
The duo paintings show two women either with a malicious thought or mere companionship. In one painting, two women face each other with maybe an ulterior motive in their minds. Hussain cleverly shows a confrontation with both equal in their stature and age. Most of his other duo paintings are about two women just sitting on a bed, engrossed in their own thoughts, relaxing after the daily chores or mulling over some serious day’s matter. The most disturbing one a depiction of hatred and power where a woman is shown throwing acid on the other one. The victim is powerless, a younger version with no help around.
The group of women are mostly about their captivity, vulnerability and exposure to torment and anguish. They are shown beaten, humiliated or in some staging against oppression. In some, they are shown mourning a death, consoling each other or simply accepting fate as it comes. The most interesting element of his paintings is the facial expressions of his characters that provoke no strong sentiments. Hussain’s other set of paintings show nature at its best. Waterfalls and waterways dominate the scenes, portraying dusk against a horizon. Peaceful and serene, these paintings provoke a sense of tranquility painted in pastel shades of blues and pink. A detailed look shows boats of local fishermen going about their daily business. The third set of paintings show portraits of mosques in various settings. Hussain uses shading technique and an aerial view of a place with people gathering for their prayers. The outer facades of mosques are beautifully painted suggesting their significance in any setting. The people shown as miniature characters seem to be in total submission to the power of a mosque.