Banker-turned-artist displays zero gravity works

Tue Jan 13, 2009 1:17pm EST
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By Mike Collett-White

LONDON (Reuters) - Nasser Azam could hardly have timed his move from finance to art any better.

In 2007, he was working for Merrill Lynch and painting in his spare time, returning to the passion of his youth as a diversion from an acrimonious divorce.

Seeing economic storm clouds on the horizon, the 45-year-old decided to quit business and became a full-time artist.

He went where few artists had gone before in 2008 with an experiment to paint in weightless conditions aboard a Russian parabolic aircraft, and his show opens in London this week.

"For various personal reasons I restarted my art in 2006," the Pakistan-born painter and sculptor told Reuters.

"I like to see the break (from painting) that I had of 23 years as one where I stopped painting but was still an artist.

"I was doing the art and I was also banking, and then in 2007 the financial turmoil made it easier for me to make that decision to go full time into art."

He is off to an auspicious start. Two months ago his "Homage to Francis Bacon: Triptych I" fetched $332,500 at a contemporary art auction in New York, well above its high estimate and in spite of a marked downturn in art prices worldwide.   Continued...

<p>'The Dance', by sculptor Nasser Azam, is seen after its installation on the South Bank of the river Thames in London February 21, 2008. REUTERS/Stephen Hird</p>