SRINAGAR: Haider, a silhouette of a horse depicting the resilience of Kashmiri people in the saffron fields of Pampore was presented in an art exhibition in Saudi Arabia by a Kashmiri husband and wife who work in the central Asian nation.
Majid Qureshi, an engineer who works in the Central Bank of Saudi Arabia always wanted to be a calligrapher while his wife Hazqah Qadri, a Presentation Convent student and now a practicing doctor by profession had a yearning for abstract art.
The couple could only fulfill their love for art after getting married a year and a half ago. They turned the Covid-19 induced lockdown into a blessing in disguise as they embarked on a journey of rekindling their love for art.
“People need hobbies to survive,” the couple said, adding that for personal growth cultivating hobbies is of prime importance.
The couple started putting Hazqah’s abstract art in the background while her husband Majid did calligraphy on top of it to produce artworks that are now hugely in demand back home in Kashmir. The couple now owns an art gallery “The Crimson Hues” under which they are publishing their works.
“We have been shipping to Kashmir. People back home love calligraphy and they mainly demand Quranic verses, couple names along with special artworks for anniversaries,” Hazqah said.
Apart from Kashmir, the couple has been shipping their artworks to different parts of the world including Europe, North America, South America, and various Middle Eastern countries.
Hazqah said their art was recognized on social media and the response has been very positive.
“Rather than cultivating a new hobby, we both decided to rediscover what we had been doing in school,” she said.
To showcase their artwork the couple participated in an exhibition at Cultural Palace in Riyadh where their work was appreciated by Mayor of Riyadh Prince Faisal Bin Abdulaziz along with the Indian Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Dr. Ausaf Sayeed.
The couple believes that back home in Kashmir the children are confined to just preparing for a profession in medicine, non-medicine, and few other things streams.
“Arts as a stream is never encouraged in Kashmir,” the couple said.
The Crimson Hues, the couple’s art galleryThey said Kashmiri children have immense talent in varied fields which needs to be tapped in at the early stages of a person’s life.
“Kashmiri people should push their children towards what they love doing. There is a lack of opportunities. Encouragement for pursuing different things should come from home,” the couple said.
They said they are planning a workshop for Kashmiri artists in the summer this year as they have been receiving a lot of communiqués from young budding artists.
“Many young calligraphers from Kashmir have been asking us questions on how to improve their work,” they said, adding that there are not many schools to teach painting and other allied arts to aspirants.
Providing Viable Alternatives
The couple said that in order to reach out to the masses who love but can’t afford their work, they have come up with prints that are cheaper to buy.
“At times some people don’t understand the amount of effort we put in our work. Our canvas is a piece of cloth that is heat and dust-resistant. We import our varnish colours from the United States,” the couple said.
They said there are many things that make their paintings expensive which only an art lover can understand.
“But we also understand that there are people who love art but cannot at times for varied reasons not afford it,” they said.
Malang, a painting of the whirling dervish Maulana Rumi with “Iraqa Fatuhlu Lidayel Hayaa” inscribed on the top in Arabic meaning “When I see you my world become beautiful”, is among the most loved pieces of art of the couple.
“We have given it a Sufi touch so that it connects with the soul of people,” the couple said, adding that they have used gold foil to highlight the word “Fatuhlu”.
The other loved piece is the couple’s “Swirling Dervish” painting in which a Sufi dervish is sitting in the centre with concentric layers of Arabic calligraphy surrounding him.
The couple says that the painting depicts the interconnectedness of Sufism and knowledge.
“In your light, I learn how to love, In your beauty, how to make poems, You dance inside my chest, where no one sees you, but sometimes I do, And that sight becomes this art,” these lines of Maulana Rumi are the essence of Swirling Dervish, the couple says.