moujzayee fann ki hay khoonay jigar say namood”……..Dr. Sir Allama Iqbal
(Painting, music, poetry, carving etc. the miraculous arts like these get birth from the blood of heart). It needs a man to be something special, something different in senses to become an artist like Arshad Sualeh. A young charismatic artist from Alamgari Bazar Srinagar, has won national and international fame, many awards and applauds for his artistic works and paintings. With high degree of aesthetic and literary sense, the 38-year old man carries enough mental strength and many specialties, in his art and subject paintings. His portraits and paintings with unique colour combination have spoken much about the landscape natural beauties on the earth, interne faith on Quranic verses and about the social concerns and causes. His recent recognition has been made by the state’s premier bank, J&K Bank in its year-2010 calendar, while carrying the artist’s one special piece “crowdy dusk” on February page of the calendar. Arshad has been duly ranked by the bank as one among the twelve contemporary artists of J&K state, whose marvelous paintings appear in the bank’s this year wall calendar.
In a latest interview with Abid Gowhar (Srinagar based freelance journalist and broadcaster), soft spoken Arshad Sauleh find his mood to elaborate about his life and art. Here are some experts of the interview.
Q: How was an artist born within Arshid Sauleh?
A: My art got birth with me. I was only five years old when I realized that certain instinctual forces are within me which compel me for painting and drawing. Incautiously my pencil in hands was drawing and sketching lines to express something. It is actually some expression of observation which most people think is wastage of time in child play. My family had an atmosphere of art and paintings as my father Muhammad Sauleh is a traditional Paper Machie artist. He saw me playing with brushes and colors and set me free in doing all kinds of rough works in painting. I used colours without any care and fare to express my feelings. Perhaps my father was aware about one saying that if a natural artist is trapped in a room and not allowed to express himself through his art, he will suffer from neurosis (a mental disease).
Q: Who guided you to become a professional artist and when?
A: I remember at the age of ten, I was making a landscape in the lawn of my home which incidentally one of my neighbors was watching. He was so impressed by that painting that he rushed and told me that if I would give him that painting, he will give me a gift of my interest as reward. I agreed and that was my first painting loved by some one. I got a box containing oil colors as gift, which not only encouraged me but helped to get familiar with.
Q: Other than your father how was the family support?
A: I am the youngest of my two brothers and one sister. The eldest one was pursuing MBBS and was strongly urging me taking medical subjects, so that he could help me to take medical profession. The second brother was not interfering in my interests. I was good at studies too, so nobody had worry about me, while pursuing my interests.
Q: What about your schooling and role of teachers in your creative art work?
A: Initially I was reading in S.P.School and later joined MPML High School Baghe Dilawar Khan. There was a Pandit teacher, Mohan Lal Raina, who was our drawing teacher. He was so delighted to see my drawing book full of many portraits and landscapes that he arranged made an exhibition of my drawing work in the school and displayed all the pages of my drawing book in that. He also appreciated me to pursue Fine-art after schooling. I joined Govt. Fine-Art College in 11th class in 1992, where Mr. M.A. Mehboob was my first teacher. I studied Art there for five years. Gayoor Hassan and Shujah Sultan like great artists were there who influenced my art. I completed my degree in 1999. During my studies in Art College, I started to participate in competitions and contests. During the college life, I got very good chances to display my paintings in many art and public galleries.
Q: Any thing you remember most since your childhood?
A: I remember once in my teenage when I by saw the full moon, I was so much disturbed that I went standstill for some time and my of-age friends surrounded me saying that there is some problem with Arshad. I still can’t forget that night and those beautiful moments. Actually all beautiful scenes have remained painful for me like, John Keats is saying in his poetry, “ beauty makes me sad and angry”. Perhaps one who perceives the beauty becomes angry in some pathetic situation.
Q: Your highest honor or appreciation you feel you have received of your paintings other than an award?
A: In 1992, I made a portrait of one renowned person of my locality Haji Gh Muhammad Wani, The oil paint portrait was out of my complete efforts and when I gave that portrait to their kiths, they were so happy that they gave me a gift in the form of a good quality camera, which I needed most at that time. Second time a young lady got drowned in Dal Lake and I was told to make a portrait of the lady. I specially made portrait of that lady keeping a little more water in her eyes making them tearful. Every person who saw that portrait wept vigorously and I thought I got a big reward of that. Another prestigious honor presently is that J&K Bank has given me a space in its year-2010 calendar.
Q: What were your feelings, when you first saw, one creative piece of your art being chosen by the bank for its wall-calendar?
A: I was immensely delighted, because I know JK Bank’s yearly calendar reaches not only to almost every household of the State, but it goes to the different corners of the country also. I hope the general masses would like my that piece of art “crowdy dusk”
Q: What about state or national awards you have won?
A: The first state award I received in 2002 by AIFACS (All India Fine Art and Craft School) New Delhi. Next year I won State award from J& K Academy of Art, Culture and Language and in 2008 I won state award again declared by AIFACS. In 1997, I got Award from Mrs Wani Devi (Daughter of former PM Shiri Narsimha Rao at National Student Art Camp Hyderabad and in the year 2003, I got Certificate of Honour from Ministry of Heritage and Culture Islamic Republic of Iran. Besides these, I have participated in many exhibitions and have received many local wards.
Q: How did it happen to participate in an art exhibition in Iran?
A: Iran Cultural House, New Delhi had organized a calligraphic painting exhibition in 2002 about which my brother told me. I went and displayed all my Quranic paintings there. During week long show, thousands of people saw my paintings and I got a good response and most of my paintings got a good price there. Even founder of Hamdard University Dr.Auwsaf Ali encouraged me to purchase all my remaining paintings for his university at a good cost. Next year the embassy invited entries for an international exhibition in Iran and I submitted my samples there. I was lucky to get selected from India and so in 26 participating countries, I represented India in that event inaugurated by then President of Iran, Syed Mohammad Khatmi.
During a month long stay in Iran, I met various international artists and learnt a lot from them. My one Islamic calligraphic art in landscape “Wama Arsalnaka illa Rehmatal-Lil-Aalameen” was mostly liked by the people of Iran.
Q: What are your interests other than Art and painting?
A: I love light music, I love to read philosophical and religious books, I am writing some poetry in Urdu and Kashmiri and sometimes, I sung some gazals all alone in my room.
Q: How do you see future of an Artist in the state?
A: It is not so healthy. Here very few people bear the taste of Art and most of the people do not know its true value. Here the sense of decoration is different and so people don’t bother to buy paintings or Art impressions.
(The interviewer can be mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org)