April issue 2012

By | Art | Arts & Culture | Published 12 years ago

An exhibition of Nahid Raza’s newest work was inaugurated at the Chawkandi Art Gallery on Women’s Day last month. In this series of 30 pieces delineating the Holy Ka’aba, the artist engages with the square shape of Islam’s holiest site and explains that she invoked the sacred on a quest for an advanced spiritual state. In a conversation at the launch, Ms Raza spoke of her spiritual evolution and how she found that an unknown force seemed to guide her work once she sought inspiration from the sacred site after a recent visit just about a year ago. Each of her paintings in this series — using acrylic on canvas and on Arches paper — is motivated by the simplicity of the geometric form, painted in several colours and hues, with textured finish and embellished with decorative detail in the form of laces and braids — analogous to the Quranic verses embroidered in gold on the kiswah, the simple black cloth that covers the Holy Ka’aba.

This collection — a seven-month labour of love — is a departure from Ms Raza’s figurative repertoire of female images that display a whole plethora of content connected with women: Feelings, emotions, spirituality and more. Painting for more than four decades now, Ms Raza is one of the leading, pioneering women artists of the country with a vast collection of work portraying the female condition. Though the current ‘geometric’ series is concerned mostly with the spiritual state, the artist also provides a female motif in the variety of colours she uses on canvas and her choice of collage material. Ms Raza explains that she depicts the search for spirituality through colour, texture and composition. She admits, however, that the mosque does not surface as an element of spirituality in her search for the Divine. She concentrates her efforts on the simple cube, which is a symbol of Divinity and a locus of devotion for Muslims.

This article was originally published in the April 2012 issue of Newsline under the headline “Pilgrim’s Progress.”

The writer is a former assistant editor at Newsline