First published: Spring 1999
On first meeting Shafique Uddin at his studio in London's East End, I spent an afternoon leafing through his works on paper. Their diversity and universality, whirling energy and sensitive use of colour amazed me. As time went on, and I handled more pictures, it felt as if I were somehow near to touching fire. His myriad-brushstroke works radiate an inner light through many layers of paint. Even his darker-paletted pictures exude a magical phosphorescence, a heart-warming illumination – that of an artist who is a born visionary.
The second time I saw Uddin, he was painting onto a large sheet of paper a ground of yellow and green – countless, exuberantly concentrated brushstrokes making a background of sun-infused leaves of grass. Less than an hour later, I saw him applying, in the centre of the shimmering, now red-flecked field, a few final, staccato strokes to conjure up the figure of a large bird. It was extraordinary to have seen this picture at start and finish, the dynamic urgency of the artist at work and the consummate subtlety of the completed picture. It seemed to me that its vibrantly notated background corresponded exactly to the bird's song.