Bakr Fansa is a Mexican painter born in Syria. He spent his young days in England where he started his creative career. But it was not until he arrived to Mexico that he would become the artist he is today.
Following a creative career path
His career path started when he was a child. When Bakr was 10 years old, he arrived to England along with his brother. At school, as he did not speak English, he started dreaming away, drawing, doing caricatures and portraits of his peers. A lack of enthusiasm towards sports drove him to the library where he spent hours going through the art books, where he wondered how those painters could capture beauty in an instant, how symbolism changed the meaning of a painting, admiring the atmosphere captured by the brush.
For Bakr, the background still is the most important thing of a painting, thus it reflects the atmosphere. The exotic colours used by Delacroix captured his attention, but George Frederic Watts, a 19th century English painter, became his greatest influence. Watts painted about philosophy, hope, tenderness, about life.
Bakr was only 12 when he first encountered George’s paintings. It left him with a great impression. Ever since, he tries to follows Watts’s footsteps. For him, this quote sums up what being a painter is all about: “My intention has been not so much to paint pictures that will charm the eye as to suggest great thoughts that will appeal to the imagination and the heart, and kindle all that is best and noblest in humanity” (George Frederic Watts).
Bakr started doing his first portraits in crayons. When he was 12, he did his first portrait in oil for one of his classmates, who asked him to paint one of his heroes. He used black, blue and white colours to paint it. Sadly, his classmate did not pay him what he offered, so Bakr kept the painting. He spent his school life doing landscapes and portraits for his professors in exchange for a symbolic payment. All he wanted to do was to be an artist, to be a painter. Because of the influence from the headmaster and the teacher, he started to work as a graphic designer for design companies and architectures, but the lack of creative freedom did not satisfy him.
It was not until he arrived to Mexico that he became a full time artist. And discipline helped him to achieve his goal.
Bakr explained us how, from his painter perspective, he achieves inspiration. “Being an artist is a 24 hour a day, 7 days a week job” Bakr says, being an artist never stops. For a painter, there is a physical part where the paint is put on the brush, and the brush on the canvas.
That would be the easy part. While getting the idea, the inspiration, would be the most difficult challenge for a painter. How to get inspiration? He asked. Baker summarised his pursue for inspiration with Picasso’s words, “inspiration does come, but it has to find you working”. Searching for inspiration is a constant process. He says that if someone keeps looking and searching for inspiration, it will find them. Inspiration is something that comes for people who are constantly looking for it. This search is an important part of creativity.
The process of creation
For Bakr, the process of creation is linked to finding inspiration. Firstly, he has an idea in his mind, and he has to think what format will the painting have? Which size will the stretcher have? Secondly, he thinks about the theme. Some themes need to be presented in a large scale, in order to evoke great feelings. While other themes need to be presented in a small scale, as they are more intimate.
After figuring out the theme, Bakr starts thinking about the colours he will use. “Every colour has something to say”, as an artist, Bakr need to combine those colours so they can express the theme. This combination is a purse of communication between cold and warm colours. Sometimes Bakr figure out the title for a painting from an early stage, while other times the title comes out throughout the process of creation.
He analyses every painting, answering how will he represent abstract themes, like emotions or philosophy? What figures will he use? He compares this process with poetry, as poets also need to decide which words would suit the writing best.
Every artist is different from one another, he says, every artist is unique and different. Everyone has their own experiences, and Bakr has his own.
Managing to create the initial sketch
Paintings sometimes have a twist during the process. He starts with an idea, using his intellect, where his mind is working. His experience is the one telling him which colours he should use. But throughout the process of creation, the idea is evolving. Every idea evolves. From the beginning to the end, an idea is totally different.
This evolution is something that Bakr experiences in most of his paintings. However, inspiration sometimes comes as a flash for him. He experiences this event as being an instrument to communicate that idea. His mind, his hand, his feelings, everything is being guided to create that sudden flash of inspiration that came to him. Making that experience the perfect definition of inspiration.
Comparing the first art pieces with his current ones
Bakr’s paintings have evolved from what he used to create 15 years ago. He has evolved through different experiences, along with experimenting different things. He is always looking for something new. Being an artist is a constant search, looking for the perfection of an idea. He needs to be satisfied with his works.
Throughout his career, Bakr has destroyed many paintings. After he signed them, he would look at them, tear them into pieces, throw them away, and start all over again. Bakr claims that an artist “knows when they are doing something wrong, and I can’t allow something wrong, that would be mediocrity, I need to be in a constant purse of art, of creativity”.
He now looks at his first paintings, and he sees a very simple technique, a technique that has evolved with him. The merit still is the same though. He enjoys painting, and he thinks that every painting he designs is his best painting. There are physical differences between his artworks, but the essence is still the same, which makes him feel true to himself, despite his personal evolution, he is true to himself.
“Being an artist is a vocation, is a lifestyle. That’s where you get your pleasures from, your satisfaction from. And the reward of the struggle, the pain, is your personal satisfaction. No one can pay you for that satisfaction, is yours, and I feel fortunate that I do what I want to do, where I want, when I want, and people pay me for that. I just love my work, it’s important to be sincere to oneself.” Baker, 2016.