Breaking stereotypes: Bright coloured whirling dervishes put on display

Shafique Farooqi experiments blending calligraphy and oil paint


The exbition is to continue at Nomad till June 15. PHOTO: HAFSAH SARFRAZ

ISLAMABAD: An exhibition featuring calligraphy and whirling dervishes is currently on display at Nomad Art Gallery.

The artwork--- a beautiful blend of calligraphies and oil paint on canvas by acclaimed and eminent artist Shafique Farooqi --- stands out unique because it does not use traditional tonnes of grey, black and blue to capture whirling dervishes on canvas, which so many artists in today’s age have captured.

Farooqi has experimented with colours that break the stereotype pertaining to dervishes and stand out. He has used greens, shades of red, orange, yellow and hues of other bright colours in his paintings to add a different touch.

His paintings are formed out of his impressions, observations and his emotional experiences that see reality as an endless process of conflicts and decisions therefore, the tonality of experience can never be resolved in a definite way, precisely what his work reflects.

Director Nomad Art Gallery Nageen Hyat said that Farooqui is a respected senior artist with international exposure. “The spiritual realm creating free flowing form and letters reflecting a higher consciousness inspires his art. The visual experience manifests itself in creating a calm and centring environment,” she said.

She said that out of the large collection of work that he has, the exhibition features some very selective work with some pieces that are very contemporary while others that are rather traditional. “His work shows not just the movement of dervishes but also the strokes of his brush and the texture that creates. It is also very intriguing to have him at this time with his calligraphy, which has a child like quality to it and yet has a stylised and modern feel to it,” she said.

Farooqui, who was born in Sialkot, claims that his real inspiration comes from Iqbal who was inspired by the works of Rumi.

Speaking to The Express Tribune Farooqi said that his inspiration to capture dervishes came from his stay in Istanbul. “I lived in Istanbul for ten years and I would witness the whirling dervishes very often. They had such a powerful effect on me that I would often find myself opening my arms and whirling with them and the feeling I would experience at that time was incomparable to anything else; it felt as if Istanbul was under my wings. Moreover the culture, streets, trees, nature and people of Istanbul have so much beauty in them that an artist is bound to get inspired by it,” he said.

Farooqi said that the reason why he has been practicing calligraphy was because he firmly believed that art and calligraphy have a strong connection.

“I have used a knife for calligraphy and the blend of different colours in this is nothing short of art. Using a knife gives a distinct texture to my work that is not possible with a paint brush,” he said.

The exhibition is ongoing till June 15.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 5th, 2016.

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