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Calligraphy: Reviving the dying art

Qamar Dagar, a pictorial calligrapher organised Qalam Aatma, an international calligraphy exhibition for the first time in the Capital. What is the idea behind this initiative? Promotion of the modern contemporary art and preservation of old tradition of writing.

art and culture Updated: Mar 01, 2012 18:17 IST
Subuhi Parvez

Qamar Dagar, a pictorial calligrapher and the founder of the Qalamkaari Calligraphy Trust has organised Qalam Aatma, an international calligraphy exhibition for the first time in the Capital. What is the idea behind this initiative? Promotion of the modern contemporary art and preservation of old tradition of writing.

"Calligraphy is very close to my heart and that is why I want to promote it for the people who might want to take it up in future", said Dagar.

The contemporary calligrapher explains that calligraphy has its roots in a religious form of art but that it has evolved with time. "Bringing art and language together is beautiful. You form a relationship with the alphabets as you go along, it's just like you make friends with a fellow human. Even if you don't know the languages then they are pretty designs in themselves", she explains.

The Journey (Qamar Dagar's work).

Born in Delhi in a family of classical Dhrupad exponents, she was always drawn to the visual art. Qamar Dagar has been a calligraphy expert for a long time but it's the first time that she has brought a cross section of Indian and international artists together under one roof. "I believe that's the way to live! I want to bring all the artists from different parts of the world under one tree. This was my dream", says the calligrapher.

At Qalam Aatma festival, 12 calligraphers including Dagar along with artists from America, France, Morocco, China and Japan displayed their works. A series of workshops for beginners was also organised.

Francoise Rio, a French artist shares his fascination with the way the monks in the early Middle-Ages drew the letters filling the space with bright colours. "I have been coming to India for many years but this is the first time something like this happened. I congratulate Qamar everyday for this. And the results have been so good. I think it's a great idea", said Rio.

Asked if calligraphy is dying a slow death, Qamar says: "I would say to an extent it is the technology. I have high regard for those who do graphic art but if it is at the cost of losing something so precious then it is not very nice".

"There is a misconception about calligraphy that it is only related to religion but it's not. It can be a part of your daily life", she added.

Irshad Hussain Farooqi, a National Award winner is arguably the only calligrapher in India who produces Islamic calligraphy on wood. "Calligraphy on paper is a difficult job in itself but on wood it takes all the more time and effort. It takes me months to create one art piece. I have given my life to this profession", said Farooqi.

The six-day festival saw an unexpected response and a lot of participation from the visitors. "The response has been tremendous. I think because it's not a regular exhibition, people were curious to come and see".

Qamar along with her fellow artists wants to continue doing such exhibitions to make people aware of this niche form of art as well as encourage them to take it up as a profession. This is just a beginning, she says.

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