Famous lines

Freud, Hockney, Hirst and so on

Famous lines

Postby rekha2010 » Fri Nov 26, 2010 5:15 am

When the young boy started scribbling at the back of his textbooks, little did he realise that these designs from his adolescent hands would soon evolve into beautiful masterpieces and a lifelong devotion to calligraphy.

Hashim Akhtar Naqvi achieved great fame after his path-breaking effort to inscribe the first verse of the holy Quran, Bismillah-ir-rehman-ir-raheem (in the name of God, the most beneficent and merciful) in over 6,000 calligraphic designs that earned him a place among master calligraphers.

Living in the winding by-lanes of Chowk, a small area in old Lucknow, Hashim Bhai — as he is fondly called in the neighbourhood — is an architect by profession; he studied at the city's College of Arts and Crafts.

His interest in calligraphy was an inspiration from his late father, Hasan Akhtar, who died when Naqvi was barely two. As a child, Naqvi began copying the calligraphic designs of his father and later made his own creations on the ‘Panj Tans' (the holy family of Prophet Mohammad) and ‘Imams', when he was in school.

In 1986, he began working on calligraphic designs of the holy phrase Bismillah on the suggestion of the great scholar Maulana Kalbe Abid, initially representing the 786 designs (the numeric form of Bismillah-ir-rehman-ir-raheem). His first exhibition was held at the Imambara Ghufran Maab on the death anniversary of Maulana Kalbe Abid.

In 1991 the designs increased to 5,000 in number, many of which won him laurels, international acclaim and an entry in The Limca Book of Records.

Explaining his deep interest and involvement with the art form, Naqvi says, “In this age of computers the art of calligraphy is almost dying, and hence I chose this path to give some oxygen to the dying art.”

He also credits his achievement to the support extended by his family. “My wife helped me in the selection of designs and colours. With my two children, of course, I had a tough time setting ‘barricades' around my work-table to keep them from grabbing the creations as I worked on them until the wee hours of morning. But that was a long time ago, and today when people approach me for autographs at exhibitions my children smile with pride.”

The many awards he has won include ‘The India Competition of Calligraphy' from Jammu and Kashmir Academy of Arts, Culture and Languages; and ‘The Tauheed-ul-Muslimeen Trust' trophy from Ali Mission. Recently he was among 40 artists selected countrywide by Jack Fruit Research and Designs, Bangalore.

Accolades pour in for this gifted artist from all over, but he accords a special place to the appreciation shown by an old friend. “In college I had a classmate called Zaheer whose name I sketched in one of his textbooks. I was shocked to learn that he was tracing the design in all his other books even after we had separated and were studying in different colleges. That was the biggest compliment for my art,” says Naqvi.

He is equally credited for ‘Indianising' the holy phrase Bismillah, usually written in Arabic, by inscribing it in many Indian languages like Kannada, Telugu, Marathi, Oriya, Hindi, Tamil, Malayalam and Bengali, as also foreign languages like English, Chinese and Japanese. He has created over 3,000 designs wherein the phrase is seemingly in these different languages but the original shapes of the words are intact.

Between the two forms of calligraphy in use — that is, conventional and non-conventional, Naqvi specialises in ghair-e-tehsili (non-conventional form) saying, “I opted for the non-conventional form because the subject of my calligraphic designs is a four-word sentence which would have been difficult to do otherwise.”

The most famous among all his designs are Bismillah in the shape of a building, and a tree bearing 177 leaves with the Bismillah inscribed in a different style on each leaf. Naqvi, however, refrains from using any animal or bird forms for the phrase, saying, “ Bismillah-ir-rehman-ir-raheem is a sacred phrase and its letters could form in the feet and other unacceptable places of the animals.”

So devoted is he to his art form that he even signs his name to creatively form Bismillah.
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