of a Gifted Artist
-- While Nabeel Ismail paints African
a discerning eye as a naturalist -- such as his
'Unpredictable and Dangerous' -- his chosen
genre is histo-
rical and ruined buildings. ALL
PHOTOS: COURTESY - CAHIL MADUFF
PERSONAL APPRECIation by cahil
-- The year was 1996 when I stared at a
painting with immeasurable happiness and awe, for the
artist was scarcely out of his teens and yet the work
was a mature creation by one who knew his subject
24 X 36 image on canvas depicted a kill.
Musiara Plains were unmistakable for me who had spent
decades flying in and out of the Masai Mara.
-- Nabeel Ismail: After the Storm.
more than the realistic depiction, “After the
Storm” for that is the name of the painting,
resonated with the familiar sounds and grunts of lions
after a successful kill.
big male appears to be wary after what could have been
a terrific battle to bring down a mature Cape buffalo.
against the backdrop of the Siria Escarpment, the
painting is a superb rendition of the predator/ prey
relationship and the drama that is played out almost
daily in this superb world heritage site.
loose painterly style makes the painting even more
interesting and dramatic.
quick brush strokes then seemed to me as though the
artist had used a palette knife instead of brushes.
daubs of colour appear to have been applied in an
impasto manner and yet the vibrant atmosphere and
details are all captured with absolute realism.
spectacular acrylic painting hangs in the home of Dr.
Gonzalo Moreno Sanchez in Tucson, Arizona.
distinguished Neuro-surgeon and Egyptologist has done
16 photo safaris with Nabeel Ismail’s father in some
of the remotest and most inaccessible places in East
-- Nabeel Ismail: Unpredictable and
While Nabeel Ismail paints African wildlife with a
discerning eye as a naturalist, such as his latest
work, “Unpredictable and Dangerous,” his
chosen genre is historical and ruined buildings.
street scenes of Zanzibar’s Stone Town and places
along the East African Coast have a special appeal for
include Lamu, Pangani, Bagamoyo, Lindi, Kilwa and
-- Nabeel Ismail:
Street Scene in Zanzibar.
-- Nabeel Ismail:
Street Scene Lamu Island.
-- Nabeel Ismail:
Street Scene in Mombasa.
He believes that unless these old buildings are
preserved for posterity, a time will come when the
moneyed industrialists and greedy developers will
demolish not just a heritage but also a culture which
is seeped in history and whose civilisation and unique
way of life is rapidly dying.
town along Kenya’s coast is a classic example of
this invasion and rapid change.
Ismail has come of age and sadly he rarely paints much
I asked him, he said that art like writing is rarely
appreciated in Kenya; and for one to eke out a living
purely from art can be suicidal.
has to be multi-talented, versatile and capable of
adapting to any situation.
“global village” unfortunately calls for the
survival of the fittest and the ruthless, he said, “I
do paint, but only for pleasure rather than to eke out
is therapeutic for me and not a means to the
acquisition of wealth.
political upheavals in this world are to a large
extent due to greed and our morbid desire for wealth.”
continued, “I have learned from my father in ‘being
in this world, but not of it.’
will understand this Sufi aphorism and yet it is so
life like all other life forms suffers from
impermanence; it is transitory.
must walk this earth with humility and shy away from
-- Nabeel Ismail: A Demolished Building
stood many years next to the Standard Bank, Mombasa.
is their habit, the Ismails are off to Lake Lagarja
this month to photograph and sketch wildlife and
lake is at the south east end of the Serengeti.
father has been going there for the last 45 years; it
is a very special place for him.
“I could never have
asked for a more experienced and discerning naturalist”