‘…In a Hundred Silent Ways’ is the latest exhibition at Gallery 6 in Islamabad, which focuses on Sufi thought, practice and mysticism. The show was inaugurated on 12th January, 2017 by Belgium’s Deputy Head of Mission Mr. Johan Casaer and the wife of the ambassador, Mrs. Mookda, and features the work of four eminent artists: Sadaf Farasat, Shafiq Farooqi, Khusro Subzwari and Farrukh Shahab.
The title and concept of the exhibition is taken from Rumi’s verse, “Closed my mouth and spoke to you in a hundred silent ways”. Rumi is considered one of the greatest Sufi Ustads in history, and his message is preached all over the world. The theme of the exhibition centers on one of the main Sufi practices, which involves submitting one’s soul to God through Zikr or through the practice of Whirling.
Sadaf Farasat is a painter who has been informally trained under renowned artist Saeed Akhtar in Lahore. Although she never received a formal education in the arts, it was sheer devotion and immense hard work that enabled her to paint with such skill and passion. Rumi is Sadaf’s ultimate source of inspiration. “As a follower of Rumi, I do Whirling on canvas with the strokes of my painting tools. I continue my own Sema on canvas until a piece is created which gives me satisfaction”, she explains. Sadaf has converted Rumi’s verses into visuals, making them easier for people to comprehend. Her imagery and style of painting speaks to the viewer, and it seems as if her paintings call out to one’s inner soul, conveying a message of pure love for God.
Another eminent artist, Shafiq Farooqi, while celebrating his 75th birthday, has followed the same theme. His artworks reflect Rumi’s verses in a colourful and expressive manner. The paintings depict various aspects of enlightenment, where all worldly bounds are broken and the soul is purely connected with God. This state represents the highest form of submission, depicted through subtle colorful strokes in the background, with the foreground consisting of whirling dervishes in mystical reunion with God while floating in the air.
Khusro Subzwari, a prominent painter who has worked on the Turkish practices of Sufism, was first introduced to mystic Sufi practices when he visited Istanbul. He was deeply inspired by the Sema Ceremony and the strong spiritual aura of the whirling dervishes, which provided him with a new language of meditation. Since then, he has been depicting whirling dervishes in his works while using vibrant colours in the background to make the white figures stand out on the canvas. Khusro’s artworks exude spirituality and a have a meditative quality to them. They demonstrate a sincere and beautiful bond of an artist with Sufism. “This suits the movement of the dervish, because this is the way that the whole universe moves, and I believe that this is connected to spirituality, and the higher powers which are unknown to us”, he explains.
Conversely, Farrukh Shahab has portrayed Faqirs who are in search of divine truth and love. Everything from their clothes to the gestures of their hands and feet evokes a sense of simplicity. It portrays the start of a journey in the way of God, free from all worldly pleasures. The Fakirs seem satisfied with whatever they have in this world, and appear to be in constant search of their inner self.
The exhibition will continue at Gallery 6 till the 19th of January. Art lovers, critics and students in the twin cities are encouraged to take some time out and embark on this spiritual journey with these talented artists. Whether or not you are a follower of Sufi thought and practice, the soothing artworks on display are likely to leave you with feelings of inner peace and satisfaction.
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