Dubai: Artist Nazar Haidri on creating Quranic calligraphy
The Dubai-based Pakistani artist turns Quranic verses into calligraphic art.
Every child is an artist, but the problem is, as Pablo Picasso once said, how to remain an artist once one grows up. Defying any such ‘problems’, Dubai-based Pakistani artist Nazar Haidri continues to amaze art enthusiasts with his paintings, even at the age of 78.
Haidri always had a keen interest in music and art. Now, he infuses his love for the two on canvas using various techniques such as cubism and pointillism. In the holy month of Ramadan, Haidri uses his gift to create Quranic calligraphy, a technique where he creates canvas art out of verses from the Quran using oil and acrylic.
“I create Quranic calligraphy keeping in mind not to compromise readability, and at the same time make it colourful rather than keeping it black and white,” Haidri said in a conversation with City Times.
Haidri’s art journey began in 1958. After passing his intermediate examination from Lucknow, his birthplace, Haidri migrated to Pakistan, where he had to work at a petrol station to make ends meet. Three years later in 1961, Haidri became one of the first students at art classes started by the Arts Council of Pakistan. Soon after, Haidri bagged the first job of his professional art career as a junior commercial artist.
Over the years, Haidri has made over 300 paintings, which have been exhibited and sold across the world. Haidri’s paintings were also displayed for purchase at the National Art Exhibition in Pakistan every year. In 1963, Faiz Ahmed Faiz, a famous Pakistani poet, bought two of Haidri’s works. “I felt a great sense of accomplishment and excitement when I was told that two of my paintings had been sold,” he said, adding that his joy doubled when he found out that the buyer was Faiz Ahmed Faiz.
When it comes to cubism, the artwork of Picasso fascinates Haidri the most. “I was most attracted to Picasso’s cubic painting of ‘Girl with Mandolin’,” Haidri recalls, from the time when he visited the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Haidri also looks up to acclaimed painters like Paul Signac and Georges Seurat for their pointillism technique, the art of applying small coloured dots in a pattern to form an image.
An avid traveller, Haidri has visited various parts of the world for his exhibitions. His paintings are sold for over $2000. Art, however, is his hobby. Haidri is a retired marketing professional who used to work in Saudi Arabia before settling in UAE. During his career in Saudi Arabia, Haidri visited many art galleries in Europe, which inspired him to explore more of his arty side.
The Pakistani expat has held several solo exhibitions ever since he moved to Dubai in 2012. His roller-coaster ride as an artist was interrupted due to the novel coronavirus which brought the entire world to a standstill. The Dubai exhibition of his new series of paintings ‘Love and Life’, focusing on the affection between a mother and her child, was delayed last year due to the pandemic.
Haidri hopes to get back on track after the virus ends. However, he is thankful to the Almighty for all blessings. “Today, I have all the time, solace, and tranquility to pursue my mission to paint the world,” he said, adding that one should never despair due to their adversities, and should let failures become the best teachers.
Before signing off, Haidri reveals his dream is to build an Islamic Quranic calligraphy monument in the UAE.