Basharat Bashir

Changing View

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In a recently concluded art residency program and exhibition jointly organized by Alif and Callisto art and culture at ALIF art residency Chanapora Tangmarg in the district of Baramulla one can feel the aroma of an art movement around the corner. Participating artists with their diverse style and subjects appear to have one common intention and that is to promote art in the valley as well as to help themselves to arise on national and international art scene. Kashmir, despite its mesmerizing natural beauty and equally intense political atmosphere has not yet been able to create artists to its merit with very few making their way in the contemporary art scene. Artists of the Valley have miserably failed to present the actual representation of Kashmir on National or international art platforms. This event which saw young and enthusiastic artists creates a ray of hope for art lovers and thinkers as well as new generations artists that the misery of Kashmiri artists is about to end.

The 5-day artist’s residency program concluded on 15th of September with Valleys prominent artist and former Dean Faculty of Fine Arts Jamia Millia Islamia Mr. Zahoor Zargar inaugurating the Exhibition of paintings of artists in residence. Professor Zargar was impressed by the artworks exhibited and applauded the efforts by young artists and organizers to make such an event possible. His presence at the event boosted the moral of the artists and he presented artists as well as art students with live painting demonstration. Participating artists, as well as organizers of the event, expressed their gratitude with high regard for his special visit and for the positivity he brought with him.

The event was one of its kind probably the first initiative in the valley completely focused on bringing artists together for a collective effort in the field of art. Most artists of the valley after completing their masters from various national and international institutes find themselves bewildered as they return back. Young artists for some time try to remain active in the field but gradually fall to disdain of inconvenient atmosphere and inconsiderate audience. As we know in Kashmir artists do not have much opportunities and fine art remains confined within a small spectrum of people, individual effort cannot possibly change anything. The need of the hour is to form a collective wherein artists practicing different forms of art come together and actively organize and participate in art events and bring art to the people. The initiative organized at ALIF art residence can be the beginning of that collective effort which needs to be supported by Artists as well as private and government organizations.

Talking to artists about the whole event and their motivation behind it we came to learn that they all had faced the same problem ‘recognition’. Artists who live and work in the valley remain unknown, despite having accomplished remarkable achievements on national and international stages their presence remains insignificant. There are many talented and gifted artists who are forced to work in private schools on meager salaries to compensate their expenses. All these reasons enforced these artists to come together and form a group so that they can collectively make an attempt to bring their art to the people. “This event is a small step a beginning from where we can recreate ourselves as artists from here we will grow as artists as well as make a platform for artists who will follow us,” said Nadeem Mushtaq (participating artist and event manager), adding that, “we had no one to follow there were no leads that any artist had left for us, we have started a new trend that we hope will bring more and more artists together and we will see better results in the future.”

Another participating artist Ghazala Fatima was quoted as saying, “as far as art scene in Kashmir is concerned we see ALIF as a ray of hope in the gloomy past of the valley. It is good that institutes like ALIF are taking such initiatives to give platform to showcase artworks of young artists from valley and bring art to the people. We have a long way to achieve this goal but we see Kashmir as an art hub in the near future.” Pertinent to mention that Ghazala has also authored a series of drawing books for children from which they can learn to draw.

“It’s not the time to be Van Gogh, we cannot afford to sit in a room and write letters to Theo for money. We have to bring people to see our art, to recognize us. We need to create an artistic environment we cannot just paint and sit we also need to sell our work,” said Altaf Khan (participant artist) adding that, “to grow as an artist and bring art in our culture we desperately need such initiatives, ALIF is a perfect place for an artist, it provides an ideal artistic environment for artists to work. We have started this initiative and we are sure it will change the view of how people perceive art in the valley.

The event included Artists coming from various districts of Kashmir, and it was mainly for artists from the field of painting. ALIF will be organizing more such events in future and will include artists from different art forms including, sculpture, Music, Dance, performance art, film making, photography, poetry, storey telling and more.

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