Most artists express their inner turmoil through their works. And Khalil Chishtee, a figurative sculptor from Lahore, Pakistan, is no different. And since horrifying stories of his parent’s migration combined with sweet memories of their life at home earlier affected him deeply, he decided to bring those out in the open. How? In a way only a sculptor can. He created intricate metal works, 10 in all, using Urdu calligraphy. What emerged are pieces of beautiful art.
“Whenever I visited India, whenever I thought about exhibiting in India, Indo-Pak Partition came to my mind. I feel the Partition was the biggest tragedy of our time. Because of all of the political changers that are taking place in most of the countries I think we should really think about the mistakes we have made in the past,” he says. And perhaps learn a lesson or two!
“It is very important for us to remember all of the mistakes that have been made in the past so that we can have a better future,” he adds. “I think art is the only thing that can bring us closer. Movies, music, poetry, art shows, theatre, all form of art can bring the whole world a more peaceful place,” opines Chishtee. His show, Between The Lines, which begins at Visual Arts Gallery, India Habitat Centre on February 11 is being presented by Ashna Singh of Studio Art gallery.
Visibly excited at having his debut solo show in India, he is all praise for the art galleries here. “Indian galleries are very professional in their outlook. Plus I always love sharing my work with Indian viewers because we have so many similarities because of which it is very easy for us to communicate on many different levels,” he says. “Having said that, sharing one’s work anywhere in the world is a moment of pride for any artist though,” he adds.
The artist has used rusted metal to create intricate art works that reflect upon trauma of war. “I used metal because metal has a heavy effect in it and most of the times words that we speak or write have the same feeling if they are not spoken carefully,” he remarks. Quite profound!
Chishtee’s works show his efforts to disjoin from the personal horrors of his inner conflict regarding identity and conditioning. These works are aimed towards transformation, not just decoration purposes.
One of his pieces History is a nightmare, from which I am trying to awake depicts invading horses from right to left, mimicking the flow of Arabic or Urdu writing with a verse of Iqbal saying: Not only land we bore your word glorious across the heaving seas, upon our steel of zeal, we rode unto their darkest boundaries.