A group exhibition titled The Self We Share II showcasing the work of eminent calligraphist Arif Khan and three younger artists, Zahra Hussain Shah, Sana Zaidi and Shah Abdullah Alamee, was inaugurated by Egyptian Ambassador Ahmed Mohamad Fadel Yacoub on Thursday.
Satrang Gallery director Asma Rashid Khan said the three younger artists had been inspired by the poetry and writings of Sufi grandmasters, such as Rumi, and Sufi practices, and their contributions celebrated the Sufi ideals of love and life.
She added: “At a time when it is easy and prevalent to highlight separations and differences amongst human beings and communities, this show highlights the power of the strength within ourselves, as individuals but more importantly as a community, as a collective.”
Ambassador Yacoub said: “Islamic calligraphy has always been a highly venerated form of art as they recorded Quranic ayats and Muslims preferred using geometric patterns and floral motifs to embellish spaces such as mosques.”
Arif Khan, who travelled from Lahore for the opening, said: “In this collection I have been drawn focus on one of the Haroof al-Muqatta’at, the do-chashmee hay. The Holy Quran contains a set of letters that are placed in the beginning of surahs, and the meanings of these are shrouded in mystery. The meanings and purposes of these are unknown. I would request that you stand in front of my paintings and after a few minutes the paintings will speak to you.”
Beautifully formed, entirely in free-style, the calligraphies are a symphony of colours blending to create new tones and shades along each piece. The letter hay was written in numerous ways and shades often overlapping and becoming hidden in the layers, much as its meaning.
Within each painting a single hay, written more boldly, larger and often in black, took centre stage and became the focal point, bolstered by the numerous colours that create the backdrop.
Zahra Hussain Shah’s paintings depicted Sama, the Sufi dance, reflecting the essence and tempo of Rumi’s poetry, while Sana Zaidi’s works had the sensation of waves on an endless ocean. Shah Abdullah Alamee was the only sculptor in the show, and his work was inspired by the poetry of Rumi, Baba Bulleh Shah and Faiz Ahmed Faiz.
Published in Dawn, June 29th, 2018