Flavour of the month: A platform for calligraphers

Exhibition at Lahore Arts Council features 170 works by 90 artists.

Our Correspondent July 31, 2012


An oil-on-canvas piece inscribed with the four quls and 69 of God’s attributes catches the eye of visitors at a calligraphy exhibition at Lahore Arts Council (LAC).

Calligrapher Rehan Munawar, who runs Alkhattat Islamic Art Gallery, has been painting calligraphy for over 17 years.

“I have seen enough to predict the future of calligraphy,” he says. Hailing from the fifth generation in a family of professional calligraphy painters, he says calligraphy runs in his blood.

“My grandfather, my father, my four brothers, me and one of my nieces are all calligraphers,” he says.

The piece is unique for its refreshing use of shades of green and orange.

Munawar says the traditional form of shaping the alphabets in colours that support the context of verses, always works. “It will always win praise if done right,” he says. Munawar’s painting is one of 170 displayed at LAC by around 30 art students and 60 professional calligraphers.

Naeem Ehsan, deputy director for fine arts at the Punjab Art Council (PAC), had selected the works from entries from all over Punjab. We have been collecting two to three pieces each from calligraphy artists, he says. “The exhibition features the work of calligraphy students in their first or second year of training; recent graduates as well as seasoned calligraphers. It is a platform for all calligraphers,” he says.

Irfan Ahmad Khan, teaching calligraphy at the Lahore College for Women University (LCWU), had encouraged his students to participate.

Mahwish Azeem, a student of Irfan, has painted the first 13 verses of Surah Rahman in a circular pattern.

“I used the Naskh style for this,” she said. Another of her pieces features two leaves with verses in Naqqashi, another style of calligraphy.

She said this is a type of miniature calligraphy which uses small dried leaves for writing verses.

Noreen, another of Irfan’s students, has written Ayatul Kursi. She says she used different colours to express the spirit of the verses.

The works are priced between Rs4,000 and Rs200,000 and will remain on display till August 6.

Tanya Suhail, the LAC curator, said a calligraphy exhibition takes place almost every year in Ramazan. “This year, the PAC took the responsibility. We only provided the space,” she said.

Students from LCWU, Punjab University (PU), Bahauddin Zakariya University in Multan and Government College University in Faisalabad sent entries.

Syed Ahmad Bodla, producing calligraphy since 1971 and a fine arts graduate from PU, has employed the palette-knife technique to write the prayer of Prophet Dawood.

Bodla said scripture painted with the pallete-knife technique using oil on canvas can last for over a hundred years without a frame.

He says he likes using different calligraphy styles for different themes. “I had painted Baba Waris Shah’s poetry with illustrations of Heer using the Naqashi design. The piece is on display at the PU,” he said.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 1st, 2012.


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