For the love of Rumi
KARACHI: Sometimes certain things become fashionable in art, for example, quoting Rumi. How does one distinguish between a true admirer of the poet and someone who likes to name-drop and quote couplets at the drop of a hat to impress others? It is an easy question to answer. Observe closely a work of art inspired by Rumi (or any other poet for that matter). If it makes you identify with how you feel about the poet and his work, the motivation is genuine. If it doesn’t, close your eyes and seek forgiveness of Rumi. Artist Khusro Subzwari’s latest body of work inspired by Rumi’s poetry opened on Sunday at a hotel.
Let’s establish at the outset that is something quite impressive, mainly because the artist hasn’t made these artworks with a paintbrush but with his mind’s eye.
This means that Rumi has influenced Mr Subzwari on an intellectual level. Yes, the title of the show is ‘Colours of the Spiritual Journey’, yes there are whirling dervishes in it, yes it’s layered with colours that evoke spirituality in the viewer; at the same time the artworks speak of a cerebral link that the likes of Rumi have with the rest of the world.
In other words, Mr Subzwari through his exhibits has tried to make a connection of the Sufi poet’s work with the material world he was a part of. The thick strokes and the whirling colours do not just signify the metaphysical nature of Sufi poetry; but also help the viewer understand their correlation with the piece of land they considered their abode, albeit temporary. The swirls of the movement do not make the viewer giddy with the unnecessary burden of philosophy — they turn him into an ‘understanding individual’.
This is why the Rumi quotes that accompany the artwork have been carefully chosen. “Nothing can nourish the soul but light,” “Be silent, only the hands of God can remove the burden of your heart.” It’s noticeable that the soul is an intangible thing followed by light that is not entirely immaterial. Similarly, hands of God belong to the
metaphysical world and the heart, a physical reality. So, it’s a journey that is as much to do with the mind as to the heart, if not more. The exhibition will continue for a fortnight.