By Scott Graison
There is a rich history of art and culture in Southwest Florida. If what’s happening in Estero presently is any indication, the future looks extremely bright for the next generation of artistic enterprise.
Meet Nalin Isme, a kid with a unique name and even more unique artwork. Nalin just completed fifth grade at Pinewoods Elementary School. For a boy
who’s just 11 years old, there seems to be no parameters to his artistic vision. He’s been locked in on abstract art in recent years, using such famous artists as Vincent Van Gogh, Jackson Pollock, Pablo Picasso and Jean-Michel Basquiat as his muses.
“I mix all those artists tog ether, though most of my work is based on Picasso and
Pollock,” says Nalin. Sound impressive? Again, at the tender age of 11, Nalin is very mature in his understanding, especially in the abstract genre.
“For abstract art, you really have to stare at it in many different ways to understand from different perspectives. I could see something as a pineapple, while someone else might see it as an apple,” Nalin explains with a confident grin.
So, how did it all start for this prodigy? One day, when he was just four years old, his mother, Nancy, went to take a nap. Nalin went searching for art to do on the internet and located some scribble art. He knocked out a couple pieces, and when his mom woke up, she saw there was some real talent in him.
“She gave me some of her art supplies. She was an artist in high school, mainly doing oil pastels and water colors. Her work was fantastic,” says Nalin. “I keep practicing, and my mom teaches me new techniques. I work to put that into my own style.”
In the Isme family, this passion for art is more than a thing between mother and son. Nalin’s two younger siblings have taken to it as well. His father, Fritz, proudly recalls, “At a recent show, competing in different age categories, the kids won 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place awards (Nalin was the one who finished in third!). The judges at the time did not know brother Ammar (nine years old) or Nella (six years old), and they were blown away.”
Don’t let that white ribbon 3rd place finish fool you. Nalin has been on a tear, placing at competitions around the state. He has won 12 of his last 14 entries, and boasts 14 championships all told. His latest win came in a state competition in Boca Raton, going up against artists older than him by as many as seven years. It wasn’t expected that he’d best the field, but he walked away on top.
Patty Narozny, executive director of the Hotworks Fine Art Shows in Estero and Naples, has seen plenty of Nalin and his award-winning entries. This young artist has captured the blue ribbon in the shows’ Youth Art Competitions 12 out of 14 times — all with different judges. She adoringly refers to him as “Dahlin’ Nalin” and speaks about him with great affection.
“Attitude is number one. He’s got the inspiration and the will. It’s amazing,” says the woman who started the Hotworks Youth Art Competition 10 years ago and has watched Nalin, and his artistic acumen, grow. “He’s got it going on. He’s won so many awards. Buy his art now!”
Part of Narozny’s mission with Hotworks is to expose works for sale, teaching the entrepreneurial side of art. So, it’s quite clear she knows what she’s
talking about. Nalin says Narozny inspires him; she’s always there for him, always pushes him, and tells him he’s going be the “next one.”
Zaki Knappen is a painter, sculptor and writer who routinely judges Hotworks’ children’s exhibitions. He, too, is extremely impressed with Nalin.
“All kids at a young age have talent, but his is exceptional,” marvels Knappen. “I hope we do not lose the genius that we recognize in him.”
As for Nalin’s father, he is inspired every time he receives a text message from his son with a picture of Nalin’s latest work.
“It makes my day,” says Fritz Isme. “My mind is blown.”
Where does Nalin get his inspiration? He says you can find it anywhere you go. You just have to be looking.
As for a career down the road, it might seem a bit odd that Nalin Isme wants to be an architect, especially since his abstract art is not based on angles, measurements, concrete or beams. But he recognizes building design as art, too.
When asked why he is so drawn to art, this mature-beyond-his years artist replies: “It’s like the canvas is a blank paper. When you’re done, it turns into something beautiful.”