Srinagar, Nov 14: When Iftekhar Ahmad Wani was working in Saudi Arabia in a British managed company as a marketing manager and in industrial marketing, art had already become an integral part of his life. An accomplished artist, Wani is also a soft skill management trainer, having delivered lectures in all parts of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Dubai.
Wani does oil, acrylic and watercolor paintings as a hobby and is very passionate about it.
“ I don’t have any formal training in the art of painting but have excelled with hands-on experience. I have a collection of 400 paintings” says Wani.
This art enthusiast says his father encouraged him during childhood days towards creativity and art.
“My father used to ask me to draw the cartoon done by BAB of Srinagar Times. Also, I used to help him in his engineering drawings. My father was a brilliant civil engineer,” says Wani.
Wani says almost 90 per cent of his art works were done in Saudi, where he was doing a corporate job. “Every year during vacations, I used to try and hold exhibitions of my paintings in Kashmir,” says Wani.
Describing himself as a self-taught painter who does paintings in oil , acrylic and watercolor, Wani says he mostly paints landscapes, while most of the landscapes are Kashmir related. “I also paint Kashmir culture for instance paintings of samovar, earthen firepot (kanger), village life. You will also find paintings of Dal Lake in my collection of art works,” says Wani.
“It was during 2014 floods, while I was in Saudi, I painted inundated Lal Chowk. My works can be seen on FB @iftekhar ahmad wani and @ instagram on Iftekharsart,” says Wani.
With a great zest for art, Wani has a series of paintings on Shehr-e-Khaas to his name. “In 2018 I did an exhibition at SP college auditorium paying tribute to Shehr-e-Khass where besides my other works I exhibited a series of paintings ( 7 to 8) showing old Srinagar city,” says Wani.
“Among these art works includes Jamia Masjid Nowhatta, Khanqah-e-Moula painting, scene from Safa Kadal, Pursiyaar mandir painting, downtown building scenes, view from Zero Bridge”, says Wani.
Commenting on his ongoing art works related to shrines of Shah-e–Hamdan (RA), Wani says he is untiringly working on a series of paintings about the shrines of Shah-e-Hamdan (RA) in Kashmir. “I have also made art works on Khanqah-e -Moula, Khanqah of Sopore where Shah-e-Hamdan (RA) offered Asr prayer,” says Wani. Wani is keen on travelling to south Kashmir to capture the places and shrines dedicated to Shah-e-Hamdan (RA).
Recollecting his art works done in Saudi Arabia, Wani says he was the only expatriate being invited by the Saudi Royal Commission to do an exhibition and live art shows during flower festivals and other special occasions.
“I was also invited by the Saudi Culture and Heritage Society to do art shows and live shows” says Wani.
Some other of his exhibitions and live performance in Saudi Arabia was at Jawahara Mall complex organised by Saudi Royal Commission Yanbu KSA—2016. He also made his presence felt at Chamber of Commerce Yanbu Saudi and live paintings session in Yanbu KSA in 2017
Among his previous art exhibitions includes one at Sonamarg during SAARC peace delegates visit from all SAARC countries during August 2015.
“In this exhibition all SAARC countries' peace delegates appreciated my paintings. There were delegates from Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh etc” says Wani.
This artist who is also a food lover recollects another exhibition held at Sangarmall complex on August 11, 2015. “ I was covered by English as well as vernacular press, TV channels and people from all walks of life participated in this exhibition” says Wani. At SP college auditorium on 25th August 2018, Wani held a solo exhibition titled “ A tribute to Shehr-e-Khaas”.
Wani’s latest works are being showcased at an exhibition “EdraaK” from 5th to 14th November at Mahatta Gallery Dhanibuoy Building, The Bund Residency Road. This is an exhibition of art, photography , calligraphy and painting exhibition.
Wani has an impressive international clientele and has sold paintings in the UK, Dubai , USA and Singapore. However,the self-taught artist believes that in order to promote art and paintings in Kashmir, the government should procure paintings for their offices and other places from local artists.
“Painters spend time and a lot of money on their paintings, painting needs huge investment. When people don’t buy art, how can artists produce art when they have no customers” says Wani.
Kashmir business houses based outside Kashmir across India and elsewhere in the world can donate to make art galleries so that artists can display their art in Kashmir. “In Kashmir, very recently we had the setting up of an art gallery at the old Secretariat building but we need more in other districts also” says Wani.