Paintings of pain, poetry and politics
Nilima Sheikh’s Kashmir Work
ARJIMAND HUSSAIN TALIB
Srinagar, Apr 27: Kashmir’s human and political tragedies have been narrated afresh. This time round the narrator is a sensitive painter’s brush, often seen entwined with a poet’s words. And that is how Nilima Sheikh, a renowned Indian artist, has painted Kashmir’s pain and agony in a series of paintings exhibited in Mumbai recently.
When Nilima’s work was displayed at the exhibition, it took more than an artistic description to narrate the underlying stories behind each painting, says heritage conservationist and head of J&K chapter of INTACH, M Saleem Beg, who delivered the opening lecture at the exhibition.
Drawing Trails – the paintings’ catalogue – tells the stories of some of these paintings in a fine detail.
In Tree Planter, for instance, the digging of earth tells of the Kashmiri practice of planting trees, of nurturing land, of bonding with soil; still, the painting patiently reminds us, the buried body constitutes the ground in which the tree is planted, where a picnic may one day be held.
Interestingly, Sheikh has modeled the figure in Tree Planter on Shah Wali, who is believed to have planted trees as a form of worship in Kashmir.
The paintings on display showed the pathos and tragedy of Kashmir in Nilima’s eyes. Some of the stories behind the paintings are from famous Kashmiri poet Aga Shahid Ali, duly acknowledged as the motivation of the themes. Nilima has also quoted Chitralekha Zutshi on the disempowerment of Kashmiri Muslims and others. There are some profound political histories in the images as well.
Nilima’s works thematize violence, terror and trauma of ordinary people in Kashmir. Her exploration of the space between grieving and memory, however, refuses to be confined to the single instance of a father’s sorrowing; it gestures towards grieving over Kashmir itself as the reference to ‘See Kashmir from New Delhi
at Midnight’ by Aga Shahid Ali.
The father’s grieving for his son does not merely represent the anguish of Kashmiris for their land, but points to the way private sorrow is shaped by even as it inflicts public history, remarks a commentator in Drawing Trails.
Most of Nilima’s paintings reflect, what a commentator wrote in Drawing Trails, Shahid Ali’s complex inter-weavings of pain, guilt, remorse, loss, confusion, terror and desire brought on by this situation.
Those who were at the exhibition inauguration included Shyam Chainaini, who has drafted the J&K Heritage Conservation Bill on behalf of INTACH, which was passed by the J&K Legislative Assembly on April 5 this year.
“These paintings capture histories, ethos, pain, poetry and much more. They need to be brought to Kashmir to be cherished as part of our culture of story telling,” says Saleem Beg, who sees these paintings as a repository of Kashmir’s history and heritage.
Lastupdate on : Tue, 27 Apr 2010 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Tue, 27 Apr 2010 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Wed, 28 Apr 2010 00:00:00 IST
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