Several art students attending a calligraphy exhibition at the Alhamra Arts Gallery on Monday said they were “disappointed”.
Inaam, 17, a fine arts student at Lahore University College, said, “I think the point of hosting an Iftar dinner with the exhibition was to get people to come. The work itself fails to make an impression.”
Mehmal, another art student, said most of the pieces on display just showed fonts used in Urdu magazines without any innovation.
“It is distasteful and unfairly priced. It is the worst calligraphy work I have seen. Some artists just replicate existing styles, but this is not even calligraphy,” she said.
The exhibition by Khalid Ishaaq Rathore showcases 47 oil-on-canvas pieces will run till July 28. Rathore says he is an employee at the chief minister’s secretariat, publishes a religious magazine and a spiritual advisor.
“I have been practicing calligraphy for 17 years. My calligraphy is unique because it is easy to read,” he said. Some renowned calligraphers are caught up with beautifying a canvas but their writing is hard to make out, he said. Rathore said, “An observer can only appreciate calligraphy if they can read the text.”
He said his use of colour was a significant feature of his work. “I mix red and green throughout. Red represents God’s wrath while green explains what angers him,” he said. A number of visitors complained the price of the work, between Rs15,000 and Rs 250,000, were too high.
However, Rathore said he had worked day and night for six months to produce the exhibits.
“My work is novel. Art is priceless in any case. I do not think I have priced my work too high,” he said.
“People consult me on their business and personal problems. Some of the verses I recommend feature in the calligraphy,” he said.
Munawar Islam, a calligrapher who visited the exhibit, said Rathore’s work was “nothing special.” “He has painted a lot but nothing stands,” he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 25th, 2012.
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