Very few calligraphers come up with artworks that allow passion and zeal to take centre stage without undermining the importance of skill.
When that happens, calligraphy defies classification and becomes an art form that can appeal to a wider section of art lovers.
It is such a delight seeing Ustad Khurshid Alam Gohar Qalam’s calligraphic works on display at the Sanat Gallery mainly because they speak volumes for the passion with which the ustad appears to immerse himself in the creative process. For him, calligraphy is not just an art form where scripts are dealt with artistically: it is a way to highlight the spiritual facet of existence by making letters or alphabets look larger than life.
Witnessing the ustad’s ‘Katba’ series (ink on paper) can easily make both the viewer and art students realise how being fervent cannot be considered an impediment in the way to achieving refinement. The ustad’s use of the Nasta’aliq is masterful. In the very first piece, ‘Katba 9’, he enhances the grandeur of the sound of the letters by using thick ink and at the same time keeps the gentle flow of that sound by balancing out the equation with a comparatively thinner line. This means it is not just the visual side of calligraphy that he wants the viewer to appreciate but also its auditory value.
Then there are Allama Iqbal’s Persian couplets and lines. Here the ustad makes a clear distinction. He keeps the poetic metre in mind and allows the lines to follow the rhythm embedded in the metre. So when he writes ‘mayan-i-lala-o-gul aashiyan geer’, he lets it move like a stream to make sure that the movement does not get stodgy.
Talking to Dawn Abid Merchant, who runs the Sanat Gallery, said: “Ustad Khurshid Alam Gohar Qalam is an institution unto himself. The artworks exhibited in the gallery are according to the principles and rules of calligraphy. It is in no way commercial decorative work that the viewer gets to see in art galleries, especially in the holy month of Ramazan.”
The exhibition titled ‘Transcendence’ and curated by Muzzumil Ruheel will remain open till Nov 5.