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Calligrapher with a different stroke

Dhanusha Gokulan / 25 January 2013

Unlike most calligraphy artists, Tahir bin Qullander steers away from the conventional form of Islamic calligraphy.

Based in Lahore, Pakistan, Bin Qullander experiments portraying Islamic calligraphy with bold strokes and presents his art to look like landscapes and portraits as compared to the usual parchment type presentation of calligraphy.

Qullander, who opened his first international art show recently, is now displaying his work at the Al Hamail Art Gallery in Al Qouz for a month.

Tahir bin Qullander at Al Hamail Art Gallery in Al Qouz. — K T photos by Juidin Bernarrd

Bin Qullander describes his art as ‘art for art’s sake’. His work is a manifestation of calligraphic intricacies infused with Sufism and mysticism presented using a rich colour palette of bold reds and deep blue.

A graduate of the National College of Art in Lahore, the 32-year-old artist is inspired by everything from qawwali music, Sufi devotional music to portrait and landscape art. “I started out as a graphic designer and calligraphy has always been of great interest to me,” said Bin Qullander.  After 12 years of graphic designing, he decided to chose Isalmic calligraphy as a medium of expression.  His work has also been prestigiously displayed internationally in numerous countries.

“There are no ideological messages in my art. The things that are close to my heart inspire my art. Music is also a major influence. But one of my major influences is my father. He is a dervish dancer and he usually is with me on most of my art shows.”

Qawwalis are a huge inspiration for him as an artist. “The songs of late Pakistani singer Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and Gulzar really inspire me. Sometimes when I am painting, I go into a trance and whirl about like a dervish,” laughed Bin Qullander.  The artist believes that the colour red is his identity. He uses it both liberally and subtly in most of his works.  “I guess it is because of the things that inspire me. Especially the Sufi mystical aspect of my art.”

Apart from being a full-time artist in Lahore, he also encourages several local young talents in the country by publishing their works and upcoming shows in a local tabloid.  “I organise and partake in several art fair and I also encourage a lot of young artists and students of art as well by publishing a monthly art tabloid that is circulated in Pakistan,” said Bin Quallander.


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