Kashmiri students’ window to art
Aamir Nowshahri

THEIR art thrived in the shadow of militancy but was never visible to the world. Now, at last, nearly 70 young artists from the Kashmir Valley will get to display their works thanks to a clutch of students based outside the troubled state.

The students — also from Kashmir and all in their 20s — have, in a first of its kind endeavour, provided the artists a platform by organising the exhibition, "Quest for the finest artists Of Kashmir", to be held in the first week of June. It is the brainchild of Arslan Qadri, a 21-year-old Kashmiri, who is pursuing his engineering studies in Mumbai, and has been dabbling in glass painting for as long as he can remember.

Mujtaba Rizvi with his artworks
Mujtaba Rizvi with his artworks

The idea first struck Arslan while on vacation in Kashmir last year. "On one of my trips back home, I discussed with some like-minded friends the possibility of having a platform for budding artists from the valley."

"Encouraged by the good response there, I came up with a website, www.kashmirartquest.webs.com, to invite amateur Kashmiri artists to showcase their work," says Arslan.

All registered members of the website — 69 so far — will display their works. The categories on display will include canvas painting, photography, pencil painting, applied art, glass painting, fabric art and calligraphy.

Majid, a telecommunications engineer in his mid-20s, is all praise for the organisers and thinks of the event as a "once-in-a-lifetime opportunity". His portfolio consists of charcoal paintings, abstract art, portraits and landscapes.

"Finally, we can show to people that there is a lot of talent in Kashmir and the only thing we lack is a window of opportunity," Majid said.

Since its inception in January 2010, the website has gained popularity among budding artists and the number of registered users is on a northward journey. Arslan and his friends then came up with the idea of holding the exhibition of the artworks of registered members of the website.

"We managed to find some sponsors for the exhibition that will be held on June 5-6 at the Sher-e-Kashmir International Convention Centre in Srinagar," says Arslan.

"We also have support from the Institute of Fine Arts, Srinagar, and the Jammu and Kashmir Department of Handicrafts Development," he adds.

Besides showcasing the talent of participants, the organisers also intend to make an attempt at finding a market for the artworks on display.

"We are trying to rope in some commercial establishments from the world of art so that they see the work and become interested in buying it," says Mujtaba Rizvi, Arslan’s man Friday.

Uzma Showkat, Sana Tufail and Ayaz Farooq — all Kashmiri students based outside Kashmir — are their comrades-in-arms. Giving back to society is also on the minds of organisers. "As much as 40 per cent of the proceedings will be donated to charity," Mujtaba says.

The registered members wait with eagerness for the event. "I am looking forward to show my talent in front of a large audience," says Hina, a teenaged student, who has made a collection of more than 40 pencil sketches on various themes. — IANS