The calligraphy show “Alfaaz” was put up on display at My Art World, Islamabad on June 15th, 2016. It showcased paintings by 4 artists, each with a different take on the written script. That doesn’t necessary mean all would do justice to the genre.
The works of Muhammad Ibraheem showed that calligraphy can be more than just script on an abstract backdrop. The artist explored the possibilities of text as image, inculcating natural elements into his work. The idea of creating landscapes with verses from the Quran seems rather appropriate as it promotes the idea of God found everywhere in nature. It also suggests that he is the creator of all as the artist literally creates the imagery out of divine words. The painting gives you more than the satisfaction of beautifully crafted Quranic verses; it also provides you with a picturesque landscape to look at. Ibraheem skillfully caters to both landscape lovers and those fond of calligraphy .These images are painstakingly crafted, and the efforts made certainly aren’t in vain.
Tayyaba Aziz has been seen to use her trademark palette of green and blue. The palette is instrumental in exuding a calm and cool sensation that elates the viewer. The artist’s skill is evident in each piece. Aziz’s paintings have a flow and fluidity that pairs beautifully with the idea at hand. The script possesses a calm and serene aura that invites the observer to stay with them for a while. Aziz does not make unnecessarily over the top statements with her composition as she adopts a more traditional style. She avoids playing with the form and style of the script which is not necessarily a bad thing. Her work teaches us that exciting work is not necessarily about challenging or deviating from the conventional style.
Mahjabeen Atif’s work suffered, rather than gained from her experiments and drastic shifts from the tradition. For example, “Nazar ki Dua” seemed lazy with its large letters, carelessly strewn about the canvas. Her treatment of the text was casual, lacking the precision and refinement of the age old tradition of calligraphy. Though one must appreciate the fact that she tried to experiment with mediums, the end result was greatly lacking. On the other hand, Atif’s “Loh e Qurani” and “Al Rahman” seemed to be much more thought out and carefully constructed. The effort and time put into the layering of a wide colour palette is clearly evident.
Rabia Dawood shows signs of a skilled calligraphist, but somehow that isn’t enough. Her work does not hold the charm and appeal which is important when it comes to the written word of God. Her painting of Surah Alam Nasrah is highly disappointing where the script stands autonomous from the background-as if two separate entities along with a dull colour palette that unfortunately did not blend well together. However, the artist can be appreciated for undertaking a labour intensive technique. The script illustrated in her painting “Surah Al Fateha” seems very close to perfect, yet does not excite the viewer.
When using phrases from holy text artists’ are burdened with several more responsibilities; they are not only supposed to keep aesthetics in mind but also the religious sentiments attached to it. In such circumstances the artist’s job becomes more daunting to produce that which is beautiful and worthy of the sacred text.