Ustad Gohar Qalam’s calligraphy on display at Sanat Initiative
Calligraphy is not just beautiful handwriting. It is a form of art with its own geometry and proportions which have evolved over decades, Muzzumil Raheel told The Express Tribune.
Raheel is curating the exhibition of Ustad Khurshid Alam Gohar Qalam’s calligraphic works at the Sanat Gallery. Qalam lives in Lahore where he teaches at the National College of Arts.
The works comprise Quranic verses in Arabic and the poetry of Khwaja Hafiz Shirazi and Allama Iqbal in Persian and Urdu. Raheel’s words do justice to Qalam’s calligraphy. All his works appear to be designed on set proportions.
Qalam’s inscription is one of a kind. It appears so simple with black ink imprinted on paper, yet very powerful. In one of the masterpieces, the ‘Bismillah’ verse of the Quran was skilfully rendered on paper in five different styles. The beauty of the styles was brought out as each style was discernable and pleasing to look at.
The artist’s mystic inclinations appear to surface through such works. His works are like a journey of the mystic who aspires for a union with the beloved Divine source: hence the title, ‘Transcendence’. One particular work was striking in this regard. It was a circular pattern and there was a focal point. This focal point evokes the concept of a Divine source in the viewer’s mind as everything seems to emanate from and converge on it.
Using a combination of the Persian Shikasti and the Nastaliq styles, Qalam rendered Iqbal’s poetry in Persian. There were rapid strokes which were the beauty of the artwork. It amazes the viewer to see that something was created in such marvellous fashion that it was quick yet so perfect. The works remind one of the perfection, or ‘kamal’, of God, Who bestows part of His attributes on His selected few.
Talking about calligraphy, artist and gallery manager Azanat Mansoor said that people don’t care what is written in a calligraphic piece. “Usually, they want pieces whose paper’s colour matches with the curtains of their drawing rooms,” she said. “Gohar Qalam was my teacher at NCA and he would just write beautiful verses while sitting idle.” “Ustad ji is a humble man,” said Raheel, who has been a student of Qalam. “What makes him unique is that he shares everything. Usually, artists prefer to create art in secrecy because they don’t want people to learn how they do it. Ustad ji is not like other ustads. He has written books about the skill.”
“It is sad that we, as Urdu readers, can read Ustad ji’s works but can’t understand it,” he said. “This show is contemporary art. And this show is unique. Ustad ji’s geometry has evolved with skill and years of practice. Calligraphy is an institution in itself and has its own proportions.” The show will continue till November 5.