‘Art Has Responsibility Towards Society, So Has Artist’

Tahseen Bashir.

A creative force coming of age in the last three years of lockdown has made a downtown girl a new promising artist working to revive calligraphy in Kashmir.

By Nisar Lone

SHE runs her brush with an effortless ease just like her eloquent expression on the contemporary themes. Akin to her growing tribe, Tahseen Bashir is making her art a comment on times, trends and talismans. The forthright—and somewhat bolstered—artistic approach makes this 22-year-old calligrapher from Khanyar Srinagar as one of the plain-speak performers in town today.

The autodidact artist lately became prominent after her work based on the Quranic verses went viral online. Besides earning her a name, “the devotional drawer”, it made Tahseen one of the few artists working to revive the Islamic calligraphy in Kashmir.

She mostly stays inside her home-studio’s artistic atmosphere, filled with dozens of her art-pieces, where she’s creating new curves and contours. Her solemn creative display makes her a captive calligrapher for onlookers.

But before calligraphy, Tahseen was finding means and methods to make her home-confinement phase productive during Kashmir lockdown. This artistic struggle started shortly after the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir faced communication clampdown following the abrogation of Article 370 on August 5, 2019.

“I didn’t have any idea of calligraphy before one day a friend of mine sent me a picture with Kalima written on it,” Tahseen recalls. “It inspired me to write the holy verses in calligraphy for the first time and in a better way.”

The work done to ward off weariness would soon earn her sweeping praises and boost her morale to brush up her creativity.

A flurry of art-pieces revolving around the “beautiful messages” of the Holy Scripture would soon make her lockdown period a productive phase.

Tahseen belongs to the young generation of Kashmir who’re known to channelize their homeland blues through their creative expressions. While many over the time have resorted to poetry, singing, songwriting and other creative means—either to lament the state of affairs, or romance the resilience—Tahseen chose to be a calligrapher. She’s happy that her tribe is only growing.

“To begin with, calligraphy was just an escape route before it became the means to create something constructive out of our chaotic lives,” Tahseen pursuing BUMS in Asian Medical College of Zakura Campus says.

“Creative pursuits are in our DNA, and make us Kashmiris very unique as a community. Just look at the legacy our skilled forefathers have left for us in the form of their remarkable artworks. We must learn Art for the betterment of the society. Art has to survive to become a way out for us during crises.”

But in the times of rising Islamophobia, hate crimes and misinterpretation of Islam, the young artist aspires to put out the telling verses for everyone to read and understand “the beautiful message of the religion of peace”.

“At the end of the day,” she says, “art has a responsibility towards society, and so has an artist.”

It’s with this sense of responsibility that Tahseen is adding colours to her childhood creative dream.

Her ‘Art by Tanseen’ initiative is already getting traction online with many reaching out to her for creative pieces.

“Since I was just an art aficionado trying to make something with my creativity, I had no idea that calligraphy would become my ultimate creative pursuit,” she says.

“I guess being passionately engaged in something itself puts you on a beautiful journey. It’s all about being honest and passionate about your work.”

As part of the post-2010 creative surge, Tahseen is trying to fill the art-vacuum by reviving the legacy of the bygone master calligraphers of the valley.

The downtown girl is happy to pick the nuances and fine-tune her craft with her gritty resolve.

“But all this wasn’t possible without the support of my parents,” she says. “They always threw their weight behind me and made me believe that I can create a difference with my creative pursuit.”

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