In honor of May, Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, we take a closer look at the life and art of painter Dr. Mohammad Ali Bhatti. We are grateful to represent Bhatti, a contemporary master, and Pakistani American.
Bhatti works simultaneously on two bodies of artwork. We carry paintings from each of his series at Austin Galleries. Both of his approaches work in tandem to provide each collection with an exhilarating sensibility. We love the juxtaposition of the two approaches ~ one bold, expressive abstract; the other, Southwestern historical realism. Both collections are unique, yet when he works on one, it brings new ideas and energy to the other.
Dr. Bhatti was born in Pakistan. He first came to the US in the early 1990's on a student visa, to earn his MFA from Edinboro University in Pennsylvania. He then earned his Ph.D in Interdisciplinary Arts from Ohio University, Athens. Bhatti and his wife had their son in the US, and Bhatti received dual citizenship. For a few years, he taught art at Ohio University. Bhatti and his family then moved back to Pakistan, where he taught at a local university. They lived in Pakistan until his wife passed in 2014. At that point, his son asked him to move back to the US to live with his son’s family in Lubbock,Texas. He later moved from Lubbock to Houston, where he now happily resides. On his trip from Lubbock to Houston he admired the wide-open spaces in his beautiful new home: Texas. The beauty of the Texas landscape inspired his paintings and became an integral part of his life's work. When he attended his first rodeo, he was inspired to paint cowboys and explore the history and culture of the American Southwest. His collection of realistic paintings also includes portraits of Native Americans who he met and learned from while attending Pow Wows.
M.A. Bhatti Chief of the Navajo size: 16" x 20" $3,500 Learn More
Bhatti loves American culture, and is grateful to Americans for accepting him as a United States citizen. Out of gratitude, he feels it is his duty to help promote American culture and history. Bhatti's outlook on Western genre painting evolved throughout his career. When he first approached galleries with his artwork, many had never met a Pakistani who painted the American Southwest. It felt as if they did not seem comfortable with it. He was turned down by many galleries and asked fellow artists why he might be having trouble gaining representation. They replied that some Americans may be biased against Muslims, that he should not use his name, or bring up the fact that he is Pakistani. He started to feel discouraged because this has been a fear of his. Still, he was determined to continue painting American subjects, so he persevered despite feelings of discomfort. Then, soon after, he sold paintings in New Mexico, Montana, and Pennsylvania.
When he approached Austin Galleries, we fell in love with him and his artwork. We immediately felt the new energy Bhatti’s perspective brought to his subject matter. The way he works; pairing the abstract, almost smoky backgrounds with sharp drama in the foreground drew us into his paintings’ stories. His fresh eyes on the Texas countryside are enlightening. Artists' points of view are vital to Ann Attal, our gallery owner. We strive to promote high-quality art from the perspectives of diverse creators. When Attal saw both bodies of work from Bhatti, she immediately knew his paintings would prove to be an asset.
M.A. Bhatti Fury size: "18 x 24" $3,500 Learn More
Bhatti's first love is realism. He first trained as a portrait painter, and then he started to incorporate cultural and historical elements. While studying for his Ph.D., he discovered how to cross the boundaries of traditional painting. The thought process goes beyond technique and skills to give the artwork a voice. He learned how to focus on concepts and ideas with emotion and feeling. He found the power of experimentation and how to accept new challenges beyond what is already known, not for other people but for yourself. This idea led Bhatti to his abstract work.
"Abstract painting is like a free jump. It's about not controlling. You never know where it will start or where it will end. It's a leap of faith and that feeling of doing something different, which is my favorite part of the process. Realism is very linear, and painting in the abstract helps me let go and also tends to guide the direction of the realism work. It's about relating your story ~ to exploring your feelings.”
M.A. Bhatti Dismay in the Desert Size: 19" x 13" $1,200 Learn More
He creates with his emotions; an abstracted, poetic approach with colors to inspire internal exploration for yourself. Dr. Bhatti's story inspires us, at Austin Galleries, and we are grateful to represent him as an artist. His work and his words help us persevere through feelings of discomfort; because sometimes, all we need is: to see it ~ whatever it may be ~ from another perspective.