In this age of graphics and technology, the human eye is not deprived of visual masterpieces. Play of designs, shapes and colours with technology has got as easy as it can get. But there are a few who continue to hold on to the traditional style of creating pieces of art the manual way. Ahmed Miqdaad of Goltamajal, Kalladka, is one such young man, who not has not just been keeping it alive, but also believes he has a future in it.
The 26 year old Miqdaad is a gifted artist with calligraphy as his forte. Art being a territory very few people trespass in terms of professional studies, Mr. Miqdaad is one such individual who passed out as a graduate with a B.V.A (Bachelor of Visual Arts) degree and as a post graduate with M.U.A (Master of Visual Arts) degree from Mahalasa School of Arts, Mangalore and Bangalore University in 2009 and 2012 respectively. The road hasn’t been all that easy though.
“Ever since I was a child I had great interest in drawing and art. But there was always this pressure from family and others that I have to stay away from art. I was told that art is un-Islamic. My father is a Muallim (Islamic teacher) who has been working at the Rehmaniya Juma Masjid in Goltamajal for the past 30-32 years with a meager salary of Rs.3000. But I have always felt that Islam was not against art per se. My father agreed to allow me to continue my graduation in visual arts. However, I had to arrange for the expenses of my studies myself and I perfectly understood that my family was in no position to afford my study expenses. I engaged in coolie work and other petty works and arranged for some money besides taking an educational loan from the bank”, says Mr. Miqdaad.
The ‘un-Islamic’ factor led him towards discovering calligraphy, says Mr. Miqdaad. “People would constantly tell me about the prohibition of drawing humans, animals etc in Islam. My interest in art however was so strong that it made me look for Islamic art and I ended up discovering the calligraphy art. I continue to be an artist because I want to convey to the people that there are things such as abstract materials, nature and calligraphy which are also form of art and which should be looked at as forms of art. There is a misconception about art among many Muslims. I was the only Muslim in my entire class”, says he.
Calligraphy is an art which not many appreciate, says Mr. Miqdaad. “It is being neglected largely. Even in the art circles, calligraphy isn’t spoken of much. People look at the Taj Mahal and appreciate its architecture but ignore the calligraphy artwork on its walls. It is an art in itself. To write calligraphy one needs to have separate tools. It is perhaps one of the very few writing forms today where the pen is dipped in the ink and used for writing”, he reveals.
Mr. Miqdaad’s growing interest in calligraphy even led him to make it his research topic in his academics. As a visual arts student, he has presented a paper on the topic ‘Artistic Islamic Caligraphy’ wherein he has discussed the origin and history of the art and also the changes that it is undergoing in recent times. “You have forms like the Japanse Calligraphy, the Arabic Calligraphy, Chinese and so on. The Arabic calligraphy is one where there is greater scope for space management. Arabic calligraphy began as an art form after prohibitions came on drawing human forms. But of late, people have started using Arabic calligraphy to make human forms”, he reveals.
Mr. Miqdaad plans to get his project work published as a book form. “No one has written a book in Kannada on the art of calligraphy. I want my project to be published as a book. But there are expenses involved and you need a sponsor if at all it needs to happen”.
Financial constraints have always been an issue for Mr. Miqdaad and continue to be so. “I am working as a freelance artist now and carrying out petty coolie work and other works to earn money. I am yet to repay my educational loan which amounted to about Rs.2,00,000. We are seven siblings in all comprising of three brothers. My younger brother is still studying and my mother has undergone a cardiac operation recently”, says he.
However, Mr. Miqdaad believes that he can make it big as an artist and that he has a future in the art. “If you have skill, you can make it big. Why is it that in spite of technology and computer graphics coming in, manual art pieces still get sold for a high price? There is something unique about a hand-made work. But it needs skill and a little popularity. No one knew M F Hussain before. It was only after the controversy that he became a household name and his paintings got sold for high prices”, says Mr. Miqdaad.
The young man has talent for sure, without which he wouldn’t have been able to win a gold medal at a national level art competition in Ujjaini in 2009. He has big dreams as well. A skilled hand that he has in writing Arabic calligraphy, Mr. Miqdaad aims to compile a 6x12 ft Quran of 300 pages of canvas with calligraphy which he feels will be a record if he manages to accomplish. “It is an expensive prospect as canvas is not that cheap and can be possible only if a sponsor comes forward” he says.
Photos by Ahmed Anwar