Kashmiri artist Arshad Sualeh is a prolific painter and has via his work made Kashmir proud on global radar . He has recently bagged the master award of honour in the International Art Festival at Jaipur organised by team Artistry International. The award was presented to Sualeh by Bollywood actors Anuradha Patel and Kanwaljeet Singh. He bagged the award for his outstanding work and lifetime experience.
In an exclusive interview with News Kashmir, Arshad Sualeh converses in-depth about his endeavors with Rameez Makhdoomi .
Tell us a bit about your childhood days and inclination towards painting ?
My childhood was spent in a learned and friendly environment as my father Mirza Mohammad Sualeh Baigh was an institution in himself having trained more than 300 artists in Paper Machie Art . since my early childhood days i had great love towards painting and used to sketch on different surfaces ranging from canvass to paper .There is an interesting story once I was beaten and scolded by my father as I had used charcoal and drawn huge sketches on government building and was reported by chowkidar .
Overall my father encouraged me greatly and witnessing my love for fine arts and got me enrolled in Fine Arts college to polish my love towards painting in more professional way .Fine arts is in my blood .
How was the transition in journey possible?
I had instinctive forces and qualities towards painting and love for fine arts was in my blood. I was self taught artist and I took some qualities from father as he was great artist and had high degree of aesthetic taste and he had sense of coloring and combination , shapes and drawing lines , composition and used to guide me those days and due to myself taught nature I used to paint diverse landscapes . During my studies at primary and secondary school I always used to draw different sketches, drawings and paintings and finally after I reached Music and Fine arts college I met my great teachers late Gayoor Hassan, late Shuja Sultan, Ma Mehboob and Shafiq Mirza . I was found of making big paintings and had different concepts within me and I had great religious atmosphere in home and meanwhile when my brother who is a doctor took me to Delhi and there at Iran cultural house I saw impressive Calligraphic paintings combined with landscape probably by Mahmood fraschin, one of the great artists of Iran . The painting touched my heart and I had calligraphic hand right from beginning so I tried to write different types of verses on paper and canvas .My grandfather Hakeem Akthar Ali was great calligrapher of Kashmir and he used to write down different verses of holy Quran , Persian, Arabic and Urdu poetry in a magnificent calligraphic way .He possessed khati nakhoon ( Specific nail calligraphy ) as he has had preserved that nail and used to write verses of holy Quran , and different scripts and texts . Accordingly I started giving my calligraphic art a voice and thrust and started painting Quranic calligraphic with landscape .
I have painted hundreds of calligraphic works .
What motivated you to calligraphy ?
I knew calligraphy very well . As I told you I had religious atmosphere at home and after being highly impressed by painting that I saw at Iran cultural house I started calligraphic paintings and Wama arsalnaka illa rahmatan lilAAalameen
was my first painting calligraphic work. I have painted hundreds of calligraphic works . I had this urge to convey divine message of Almighty Allah with the help of paintings because I was stimulated and impressed by Christian art with paintings of Mother Mary with child , virgin and child and Jesus Christ on cross . I got the idea that those artists from Italy and France were influenced by Christianity and I was impressed and influenced by message of Holy Quran so I started writing and draw different script of holy Quran in form of paintings so that I can convey divine message of Allah in form of paintings .There are 3000 each of my Quranic reproductions of paintings painted by me in USA, SAUDI ARABIA AND CANADA .
You work on four subjects , what are those ?
I work on Quranic Calligraphy Paintings combined with landscape , Abstract, semi abstract figurative work paintings , Realistic Paintings, Surrealistic paintings . .Mostly kashmiris love Quranic calligraphic with landscape as Muslims are majority here and love Islam and I paint thus more Quranic calligraphy , -there are two benefits -one being verse of holy Quran and other it being painting with beautifully painted .
You started your journey with ?
I started my journey with realistic paintings and realistic portraits as basically I was portrait artist and painted scores of portraitures but left it as it involved huge amount of time as I do not have much time now as I have to teach as well fine arts to teachers at cluster university . Whatsoever leisure time I have I try to divert It to calligraphy although I also love realistic art.
I have participated in different types of contests and also participated more than thirty art workshops in India and also in many international workshops and exhibitions. Different people have collected my work as their own personnel memorable collection .
Challenges faced by artist especially in Kashmir ?
There are so many challenges faced by artist as our emotions are different . Artist’s world is all together a different world and temperament difficult to understand . Sometimes I might be so close to you that you will think Arshad has some problem as you will think he wants to get something . When we connect eyes with other human we get very close and other person should have sense to understand . Here in kashmir we do not have favorable atmosphere as it is often filled with stress , pain and turbulence. Sometimes I want to display paintings but we feel short of art lovers and no body to appreciate or purchase our work. We cannot just survive by token appreciation. Artist must have congenial atmosphere, art lovers which is unfortunately absent here . We also tragically do not have art galleries here .
Does Art lead to Spirituality ?
Art basically leads to spirituality and divinity .If an artist is perfect, sincere in his work he or she will achieve automatically achieve spirituality .Whenever we paint nature like moonset, sunset, waterfall, gushing water, Greenland it automatically leads us to divinity, spirituality close to God .One of the names of Allah is ya Musaviro ( one who is artist ) and he has created human as best of creations . Every art like poetry, painting, music , sculpture we try to recreate and get fully stimulated by beauty of almighty Allah .
Is Painting your first love?
I mostly do paintings and can do installations and paintings has always been my first love.
Your favourite artists ?
Bikash BAHATACHRYA is among my favourties , Jatin Das is also among my favourties as he is my teacher and I have contributed my works to his personnel museum and his paintings have been appreciated allover world. Ram Kumar, MF Hussaein, Ramkrashinan, Bhaskaran, Mr Balan etc are my other favouries .
Some families discourage their children towards fine arts, your take?
Those families that discourage their children from art do not have aesthetic taste and love for diverse arts ranging from poetry to painting as they falsely think it will yield noting while in reality it pays huge dividends . If our children have tendency towards art we should fully encourage them as it is such a wonderful thing .
What would be your message to young artists ?
Hard work leads to destination if somebody has tendency for art he or should understand it is not easy but so difficult . One has to work with dedication. So one has to tolerate and pass through many difficulties with full calm and composure and have broad mindset . One great painting does not make you artist as it is continuous process . We need to have large heart to stay relevant .
Your take on infrastructure with reference to art like paintings outhere ?
Infrastructure like galleries are lacking here .Everywhere in world there are platforms for arts and in India we have academies and galleries . We have art and culture academy here in Kashmir and they work good but unfortunately we do not have art galleries outhere
Noted awards you have received ?
I have been conferred three state awards and one national award from Raskala manch Haryana , international award by government of Iran Ministry of Heritage and culture and and one more international award I got Masters award of honor recently in Jaipur Rajasthan in international art festival .I have received scores of local awards .
Have you painted on turmoil and others things you would like to share ?
I have painted so much of paintings on bloodshed, pain and humans in distress . Art can also help to come out of depression,. Doctors give art therapy like give something to draw and paint. We do not have unfortunately have exposure . Most of the people want to take this subject but are worried about sustenance but once we do with dedication we can live like king .