The works of a young Kashmiri painter who has studied at the prestigious Lalit Kala Academy and has been nominated for national award, are heavily influenced by the conflict in Kashmir. Junaid Nabi Bazaz reports.

Rameez Waheed Bhat, 26, seems engrossed in his thoughts all the time. He is a painter and always thinks about painting. Hisday begins and ends with paint and brush in hand. And if there is any time left, that is devoted to his music band ‘Poetik  Justice’.

He is said to be the youngest Kashmiri painter to have sold a painting. The painting Freedom Fight was sold for Rs 35,000. He was also nominated for national award for fine arts by Lalit Kala Academy last year.

Rameez’s love for painting began at an early age and he chose to study fine arts.

“In my childhood my fondness for painting was growing each day. Then I realized that I have to become a painter.”

Rameez joined the Institute of Music and Fine Arts Srinagar to pursue bachelors in fine arts.

Having grown in the times when Kashmir was engulfed in a popular insurgency, Rameez was heavily influenced by the conflict.

During the 2008 agitation, when people participated in widespread protests and fought pitched stone throwing battles with government forces throughout Kashmir, Rameez too wanted to protest – but in his own way. He painted the protests.

“What people had done on the streets did not bear fruit much on the ground. People around the world did not know exactly what was happening in Kashmir. I wanted to tell real stories and found painting as the medium of expression,” says Rameez.

After completing his five-year Bachelors course in fine arts from Srinagar, Rameez got selected for masters in Vishwa Bharti Institute of Fine Arts at Shantinekaetan in Kolkata. At that time he was the only Kashmiristudying at the prestigious institute.

By the time he completed his masters, Rameez had already painted his first painting titled “Freedom Fight” which sold at Rs 35,000in the Carnival a famous Kolkata art gallery.

Rameez earned two scholarships, one from the ministry of Culture and Art and another from Lalit Kala Academy. The former gave him a chance to work in the renowned Gadi studio in Delhi for one year and another Rs 5000 monthly stipend for two years.

“The panelists who examined my work got impressed by my work. They appreciated my work and advised me to carry on with the same zeal,” Rameez said.

Meanwhile, his paintings were also shown in other festivals. Recently all his paintings were shown at an exhibition titled “Art and Terrorism” organized by professor Shivji Panikay who taught at University Of Baroda of art, culture and history.

“My paintings were displayed in all major art festivals during this period. And in coming time to come they will also be displayed in international art festivals,” claims Rameez.

Most of his paintings reflect the different angles of conflict and its aftermath Kashmir has been going through for the past 22 years.

 “Writer uses writing, stone hurlers use stones, protesters use protests so I made my painting as a way of expression,” says Rameez.

Freedom Fight, Missing, Hands Up, Now A Days, We Are No Indians, Shaheed-E-Milat and Why are some of his twenty paintings.

He says the art in Kashmir is not a new thing and that she has had a number of acclaimed artists. “We not only have the history, but art also which is acclaimed around the world for its aesthetics,” says Rameez.      

Students in Kashmir, Rameez says, are only going towards specific fields and “fear to opt for other fields.”  He wants the students who think that one cannot earn a livelihood from a non-traditional profession like a painting to change their mindset. “Students in Kashmir need to change their thinking. Being a painter, one cannot only earn good livelihood but respect also,” says Rameez.

He says, “artists can do anything that a person in any other profession cannot do. They can think beyond the obvious and the foreseeable. That is the ability that differentiates artists from others. And if students will get into it completely, they without any doubt can bring laurels to themselves and their people.”

Besides painting, Rameez is part of a music band ‘Poetik Justice’. And most of the songs sung by them are related to the conflict in Kashmir.


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