Healing Strokes

A young artist from Sopore, who has seen death from a close range, took refuge in colours to vent his feelings on canvas. Farzana Nissar tells his story

In a dimly lit room with thick curtains hiding the long windows across the walls, the colourful artworks of a young artist seem to blink at everyone who enters the room, as if greeting them.

In one of the corners of the room, the young boy smiling shyly gives life to his water colors. His fingers are wrapped around a paint brush and with meticulous brushstrokes he skillfully displays his mastery of painting on a large white sheet.

Faheem Hussain, 19, a self-taught artist from north Kashmir’s Sopore town is currently pursuing his bachelors in science from Government Degree College, Sopore.

As three decade long conflict has left intense scars on the minds of young boys and girls in strifetorn Kashmir, Faheem discovered painting to be his pain healer. Faheem was just 7-years-old, when a man was shot by unknown gunmen in front of his eyes, few meters ahead of him.

“I was in shock for some time.But as a kid I completely forgo about it after a few days,” says Faheem.

Later during 2010 unrest, one of his close friends, Bilal Ahmad Dar was killed by the forces. In 2016, the protests that erupted after the killing of Burhan Wani, leaving hundreds dead and thousands injured with pellets, his childhood memories returned to haunt him.

“I was flooded with feelings of frustration, sorrow and loneliness.I used to avoid talks with people and sleep very less,” recalls Faheem. “I never thought I would be able to get myself back to normalcy and study anymore.”

A few months later Faheem came across a painting video on the internet. Fascinated by the flow of colors, Faheem desired to try the same. What followed was an experimentation process, as his brush began to drip paint over paper.

He instantly found that this first encounter with water colors calmed him. “I had to get that misery and hopelessness out of my mind. I was holding onto that anger for long. So I started painting madly,” says Faheem. “I find solace in my art. It gives me peace and joy.”

Since then whenever Faheem is disturbed by the happenings around him, he switches to painting. During curfews and shutdowns, when he is trapped at home, his art has proven to be his best friend.

Being a nature lover Faheem feels that Kashmir is blessed with beauty and has rich traditions and cultural values, thus his paintings do not depict anguish, despair or defeat, rather they depict peace and hope.

“I want my homeland to be peaceful and I showcase the same through my art,” he says.

Faheem’s father Dr Showkat Hussain is a Professor of Islamic studies at Islamic University of Science and Technology (IUST) Awantipora, his mother Jameela Akhter is a home maker and his younger brother Tasaduq Hussain is a 9th class student.

“My family and friends always support me. They feel happy whenever I paint something good. But my parents want me to continue it as a hobby, not as a profession,” says Faheem.

Aliya Pandolfi, a US born Kashmiri scientist, an art critic and a good friend of Faheem thinks he is a natural artist who strives to hone his skills and talents to excellence.

“Faheem captures the depths and dimensions of his subject through droplets of water mixed with colours and makes his portraits living,” says Aliya.

During an exhibition of his work at Pahalgam Winter Festival, Faheem was praised by artist Masood Hussain.

Faheem sold seven of his paintings to Khawar Jamsheed, a line producer for Bollywood in Kashmir. “He loved them a lot and wants me to paint more for him,” said Faheem.

In a recently held event khamoshi, organized by Aabshar Productions at Tagore Hall, Srinagar, Faheem painted live on theme related to women sufferings and received a standing ovation by the audiences.

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