Chasing an enigma
With the Taj Mahal completing 350 years of existence this year, painters from India and Pakistan are getting together at Agra this week to rebuild it, on canvas. SANGEETA BAROOAH PISHAROTY catches up with the four participants from Pakistan.
YOU MIGHT not find it so beautiful but you just can't ignore it. It has its matchless aura, the world has long named it as one of the wonders of the sphere. The daily line of visitors from far and wide is evidence enough. As a monument of vanished love scripted with marble and mortar, as a piece of magnificence and raw splendour, as a living presence of our 350 years of history, Taj Mahal naturally evokes different things to different people. All you need is a good stare at this masterpiece.
So when Rahat Naveed Masud from Pakistan's Lahore city says, she doesn't want to talk about the Taj before her maiden glance at this wonder marvel, you understand why she wants to keep her thoughts so pure. More so perhaps as she will let loose her imagination and thoughts to replicate this memorial on canvas as a part of a painters' workshop this week. "I have heard so much about it and have gathered quite an impression already.
Now I don't want to add more to it and leave the rest to my senses," explains Rahat. An assistant professor of painting at the prestigious University of Punjab in Lahore, this alumnus of the Kingston University of London is reasonably keyed up as the workshop, organised by Delhi-based non-governmental organisation SEHER, shall give opportunities to the painters to gaze at the Taj. Both during day and night. At leisure.
Unlike Rahat, Rakshanda Atawar, another participant of the workshop which also has 17 Indian painters, has already given vent to her imagination about the Taj Mahal. Without seeing it. A form akin to Da Vinci's Monalisa. "I have a feeling that I would find it like Monalisa, something of an enigma," says this Principal of Hunerkada, a college of visual and performing arts at Lahore.
R.M. Naeem, yet another participant from Pakistan and an assistant professor at the National College of Arts in Lahore, contributes to the conversation: "I have seen the Taj before but every time it looks new to me. It is like love, a personal experience. Also, its geometrical architecture is what attracts me a lot as a painter." The fourth member of the group, Mohammad Zeeshan adds, "The best part is the symmetry of the fountains and the colonnades." He too has seen the famous tombstone before. Eager nevertheless to view it again. The way he wants.
And now, each, set with their feelings, is all ready to embark on an artistic voyage, the fruits of which are to uncover just for a day at the India International Centre annexe on February 3. "Though, one doesn't know how much shall one be able to give in to the time limit as one needs equal time to paint and gaze at it," Rahat sums up the common feeling of all four. "But then, it is the interaction with the artists from this part of the border that might give us seeds to carry home for a tree to grow," adds Naeem. To everyone's approval.
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