An Incomplete CANVAS

It was her husband’s wish to see her become a celebrated artist. But before Naseema could finish her first major work, he died leaving behind a family of three to fend for themselves. Syed Asma narrates a struggling artist’s journey who wishes to make a living out of art

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Naseema Gulzar with one of her works at an exhibition in Srinagar. Pic Durdana Bhat

Her shivering hands can’t handle the canvases. It is a usual Chillai Kalan morning in Kashmir and the artists are getting ready for a locally organized exhibition. Few of the art works are already placed on the lake side. Preparations are still on. Artists and craftsmen are busy choosing appropriate spots to showcase their work.

Naseem-Gulzar-Art3With fog minimizing the visibility, Naseema Gulzar, one of the artists, holding three of her canvasses, makes her way, joins folks in choosing a suitable place for her art work.

It seems she has found a place.

Placing the frames cautiously on the ground, she immediately starts rubbing her numb hands. After sensing her hands back, she works on the placement of her paintings.

Naseem-Gulzar-Art-5The 43-year-old artist, Naseema, is here with three of her paintings. Of which, the two using fabric and pearl paints are the best of her works so far, she says. One depicts the Kohi Maran and the other Badam wari.

Explaining her art she says, “I don’t want my painting to look natural. I deliberately make them look artificial.”

Using bright and sparkling colours makes the paintings lively and positive, Naseema believes.

Born in a business family, Naseema, the oldest child in the family, has not attended an art school but has never missed any painting competition in school and college. Repeated appreciation of her strokes built up the confidence of being an artist in Naseema.

Kashmiri-Artists-depictionShe, a medical student, could not pursue her career as an artist as she got married at an early age of 21. Naseema lived 14 years of her married life as a contended home-maker.

Naseem-Gulzar-Art4Her husband, Ayub Gadyari, an executive engineer in Public Health Department, suddenly passed away in 2010. Ayub had gone for an official meeting to Jammu. On his return, he suffered from food poisoning leading to multiple organ failures.  His eldest daughter was 13-year-old then and the youngest was 10-year-old.

Naseema, introducing herself as a sensitive person, who was brought up in an over-protected environ, had to suddenly shed all her comforts and be a bread winner of the trio – herself and two daughters.

“After Ayub passed away I could not compromise on the needs of my children. They were too young to understand the loss,” says Naseema.

Naseem-Gulzar-Art“I tried to maintain the standards that Ayub had set but now it has been five years and my savings have started drying up. I now want to earn as good as Ayub did and I wish my art would help me in that.”

After Ayub met his demise, Naseema under government service rules was inducted in her husband’s department but at a comparatively low rank.

The job though gets in a constant income in the family but Naseema wishes to earn more.

Taking it as a will of her husband she wants to pursue a career of an artist now. She wishes to be a commercial artist!

“Ayub always encouraged my talents, may that be of painting, knitting or cooking,” Naseema says with a sparkling smile, “before departing he gifted me a set of brushes. So, he wanted me to be an artist…he wanted me to resume my art.”

Naseema, after getting married had stopped to paint and it is this painting of Kohi-maran that marked her comeback. Naseema considers it as her best work, besides calling it her favourite. It is included in the set of three paintings that she is displaying in the exhibition.

Naseem-Gulzar-Art2It took her three years to complete the painting. It was not that difficult to paint it, she says, but she was too busy with the household work and her children. She did not find enough time to work on it.

It was Ayub, Naseema remembers, who forced her to do paintings again and had promised her that soon after she completes Kohi maran painting, he will put it up in a frame himself. But as luck would have it, he passed away before the painting was complete.

Naseema as an artist does not follow any conventional rules to paint. She paints anything and in any pattern she likes. “I like to symbolize everything in a single frame that exists in a place.”

In her Badamwari painting, she has captured every detail in a single frame. The placement of things, though would not be as exact as they exist, but her art depicts the place easily.

Apart from landscapes, what attracts Naseema is Quranic calligraphy. Considering herself just a beginner as a calligraphist, she says, she needs to brush up her skills in the field.

After the exhibition Naseema wants to work on her new project – the painting of Hazratbal shrine.

Besides, Naseema is trying hard to attract locals to her art as she wants to make a decent living off her craft.

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