Turning verses from the Quran into artwork

  • Abha Goradia, Hindustan Times, Mumbai
  • Updated: Mar 26, 2015 18:02 IST

It is a known fact that for an artist to showcase his or her work at a popular gallery, they have to wait for a considerable period of time. It was in July 2010, when an artist cancelled his show at the Art Museum Gallery, Kala Ghoda, citing the reason that "paintings don't sell during monsoons," that the Mumbai-based calligraphy artist Salva Rasool got a chance to present her works.

The artist remembers the show being well-received. "I was surprised to see even non-Muslims taking keen interest in my art," she recalls.

Rasool uses calligraphy and abstract art to create her works, which revolve around the theme of Allah. She picks positive verses from the Quran, and paints them across the canvas in a vibrant mix of colours. Her paintings are layered with several textures, giving them a 3D-like effect.


Artwork by Salva Rasool

"I make use of absolute scrap when I paint. At times, I cut credit cards because they're thick, as they help hold my paint. I've also used wires. When I look at these things in daily life, I think of ways to use them in my paintings," she says.

It began in 1991, when she was looking for a painting for her living room. "I didn't want anything that was mass-produced. I thought of making a painting with a verse from the Quran (Allah does not burden a soul beyond that it can bear) as I felt that it renders one with so much strength," she adds.

Soon after, she got an order for a similar painting from a buyer in South Africa, and then there was no looking back. Some detractors call her after they read about her, or visit one of her exhibitions. They say verses from Quran shouldn't be printed and that the newspapers that carry her paintings are strewn everywhere. "I have no hold over that. How do we stop things that aren't in our control?" she shrugs.

Elahiya takes place from March 27 to 31 at Cache Art Gallery, Bandra (W), from 10 am to 8 pm.

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