Message on Canvas

She can draw with both hands at a time. But that is not what Uzma likes to boost. She likes to paint different shades of Kashmir’s conflict torn life. Saima Bhat tells her story


Fascinated by colours and paintings since childhood, Uzma Nawchoo, an ambidextrous – one who paints using both hands at a time – always wanted to be a designer.

Uzma inherited artistic genes from her great grandfather Abdul Gani Nawchoo, a calligrapher, whose work adored walls of old Chrar-e-Sharief, and other shrines in Kashmir. “I started drawing landscapes using water colour since I was in Class 1,” said Uzma. “Thus winning all painting competitions at school was quite natural for me.”

Two decades later, Uzma, is more interested in human faces and varied expressions, than mere brushes strokes on a canvas.

She sketches all kinds of humans using free-hand-ball-point and pencils.

“Free-hand-ball-point sketching fascinates me as there is no room for error. Whatever one does has to be done in one go as it can’t be erased or corrected later. The madness, drama and texture of human faces are amazing,” feels Uzma, who is presently based in New Delhi.

Born and brought up in Srinagar, Uzma did her schooling from Mallinson Girls School and then, she graduated in science from the Kashmir University.

In order to pursue her dream Uzma landed in Delhi in 2001. There she joined J D Institute of Fashion Technology for a bachelor’s programme in apparel designing with emphasis on illustration, applied, visual and foundation art.

But what makes Uzma different from other artists is her ability to paint using both hands at a time. She uses her ambidextrous skill to create beautiful mirror image and symmetrical artworks.

“I think painting with both hands while music is playing is a kind of therapy in itself. It has soothing affect on your mind,” says Uzma.

Living in a conflict zone impacts an artist’s work, feels Uzma.

“I can’t sit with a flower vase in front of me and think of painting. It doesn’t thrill me,” says Uzma. “I get inspired by whatever impacts my mind.”

Uzma, who grew up in Srinagar during troubled 90s, feels, she can relate with women who have suffered because of conflict.

Most of her paintings have a recurring theme of war and conflict.

in 2013, taking her career a step ahead, Uzma launched her designer label Atelier UZ. She also opened a store cum studio in Kashmir.  However, given lackluster response, Uzma closed the studio, and went back to Delhi. “But I keep using my label name.”

Since 2014 Uzma is keeping herself busy by conducting art therapy workshops in Delhi. “These workshops are open to all age groups.”

These workshops help participants get acquainted with all aspects art like painting, clay art, glass art and classic animation.

But the emphasis is on art therapy. “I amalgamate my training in psychology with fine art hence helping and healing people who seek help for psychological trauma,” says Uzma.

For Uzma, there is no better way to showcase ones inner turmoil or joy than by using colours, or by creating musing, or by writing etc. Currently Uzma is perfecting her skill in oil paintings. “I am doing a series of oil paintings in future,” says Uzma.

In April 2016, Uzma’s had her first solo exhibition at Dilli Haat for J&K festival and at JNU. The exhibition displayed collection of fifteen painting titled ‘Women of War’. “This series depicts women of Kashmir who suffer mental and physical trauma due to war like conditions,” says Uzma. “Paintings carry a message.


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