A Colourful Urn

Inspired by the likes of Van Gogh and Rembrandt,  a Kashmiri landscape artist’s work reflects the changing mood of a place and its people. Nuzhat Mushtaq profiles his life story

Mohammad-Aslam-Naqishbandi-artistSixty-nine-year old Mohammad Aslam Naqishbandi opens the door of his living room decorated by his lifetime of work: paintings.

In a corner, he has kept an urn of papier-mâché on which he had painted a beautiful Mughal Palace some 30 years back.

Born in an artistic family at Khwaja Bazaar, Aslam loved colours from his childhood. When children of his age were surrounded by toys Aslam would have paintings, colors, paint brushes etc. by his side.

“I love to paint since I was a child. My father Shad Naqishbandi was an artist, he used to paint a lot particularly during the partition period. This is how I was attracted to colours. Then I started to draw lines, object on paper and later I became an artist,” says Aslam.

Aslam, who has done his matriculation from Islamic High School, Rajouri Kadal, Srinagar, in 1970, wanted to paint portrait of his school’s founder on canvas, during his school days.

“I was very happy when I painted a portrait of Mirwaiz Rasool Shah Sahab. It was one of the proud moments for me,” says Aslam.

After completing schooling from Islamia High School, Aslam joined Sri Pratap (S P) Higher Secondary School M.A Road Srinagar for further studies.

Later in 1973, in order to fulfill his dream of becoming an artist Aslam joined evening classes at Music and Fine Arts Institute, Jawahar Nagar.

A year later Aslam went to Baroda University to further his skills as a painter.

During those times government approved loans for degree courses only, but being a special case Aslam’s loan got sanctioned for diploma in Fine Arts.

But due to some circumstances, he couldn’t complete his training in Baroda and came back to Kashmir.

“Despite coming back I did not wanted to give up my passion, and persuaded diploma in Civil Engineering from Polytechnic College,” says Aslam.

Later, he got a job in Irrigation and Flood Control Department but still managed to spare time to paint.

Aslam managed to learn the basics of painting and overcome shortcoming, on his own. While working on a painting he would completely immerse himself into the subject. “As I usually paint on holidays, at times I would work without sleeping for days together,” says Aslam.

Artist-Mohammad-Aslam-NaqishbandiIn order to stay abreast with the work of great artists Aslam started studying techniques used by old masters of 17th, 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. He was highly inspired by Dutch painter Rembrandt Harmenszoon; French artist Paul Gauguin and Van Gogh.

“I read everything about life and work. I even read their biographies to understand what art really meant. And it also helped me in improving my work too,” says Aslam.

While Rembrandt helped Aslam understand importance of interplay of light and shade, Van Gogh’s way of handling a landscape became instrumental in his work.

Aslam, himself a landscape artist, is inspired by the scenic beauty of Kashmir valley and tries to inculcate the same in his painting. He used to work on the realistic paintings but side by side he is working on abstract art as it’s the trend of modern art form.

“I still consider myself a student in this field. Personally I believe that it is the vast ocean of knowledge where one has to keep learning till the end, because one has to keep himself up to date with new trends that come up constantly,” feels Aslam.

Recognition

In 1974, Aslam participated in ‘The Visionaries Painters and Sculptures exhibition’ where he won an award for his painting titled ‘Waterfall’. “Besides I was given a cash prize of Rs 100.”

That was his first award, but not the last one. “I got State Annual Award and Merit Award (in student level) by Jammu and Kashmir Academy of Art Culture and Languages in 1997 and 2009 respectively. Later I was awarded with State Annual Award in 2011 by the cultural academy,” says Aslam.

In 2002, Aslam managed his first solo exhibition of paintings based on Kashmir turmoil, at Tagore Hall Srinagar.

Later he participated in exhibitions organized by All India Fine Arts and Craft society New Delhi, Jammu and Kashmir Center of Creative Arts at Kala Kendra Jammu and Exhibition organized by the Institute of Systematic Studies Sopore.

The price of Aslam’s painting varies between a couple of thousand rupees and Lakhs, depending upon the interest of a buyer. “It depends on a buyers and his love for art,” says Aslam.

Some of Aslam’s famous works include Affection, Distant Hope, Frozen Hope, Paradise My Homeland, Painful Memories, Wailing Mothers, Golden Autumn, 24 Visions.

These masterpieces adore walls of Jammu and Kashmir Academy of Art Culture and Languages, in drawing rooms of many private art collectors across India, London, Los Angles, Bangkok, Germany, Kuwait and Dubai.

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