Meet Badrunissa Bhat: Sufi Artist From Kashmir

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Tell us about yourself?

I am Badrunissa Bhat and I’m 20 years old. I have completed my schooling from Sultan ul Arifeen Wakf Public School till 10th standard and rest of the studies from Green Valley Educational Institute. As a person I have keen interest in Literature, Art, Sufi Music, Sufi Literature, etc. My family and teachers have shaped me to become what I am today.
I’m deeply inspired by Moulana Rumi. It’s my thinking and eccentricities which make an artist, a poet and a seeker of something divine which I am in search of. All my paintings and poems are just a search of something from beyond. This search describes me. I love and know beautiful languages like Arabic and Persian. It’s the literature in these two languages which deepens my love for them and Van Gogh is my favorite artist.

What do you say when people ask you, ‘What do you do?’

I say I am a wandering soul, a passionate artist and a poet at heart. I’m idealistic and many may call me absurd or mad but it’s what I am. I just paint or write what touches my heart.

How and when did you decide to become an artist?

Its not something you choose to become, its what you are from the day one you born . I give credits to my parents for letting me to express my thoughts through this medium and to my teacher who polished me and yes , I also worked hard to improve my skill.

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What inspires you for the pieces you create?

Its Tasawwuf, or what we call in common language, Sufism.
A work of art is not just a canvas painted with different hues but with a touch of spirituality which makes it alive and speaks to the world. For me, art is a language of love which we speak through colors. My inspiration for painting: Whirling Sufi Dervishes that feature as a motif in most of my artwork. For me the whirling Dervish represents the soul, spirituality, love, and existence of a Divine force. In my paintings, they depict my fire. They enflame and extinguish it at the same time. My paintings have a symbol of moon also, as I consider it to be more spiritual than any other existent.
I am a keen reader of HabbaKhatoon, LalaDed (Kashmiri Mystics) and moreover, my favourites are Maulana Rumi, Sarmad Kashani, Ibn Arabi and other Sufi saints. I feel they write life. As I read them, I am filled with joy and colors and these take the shape of a painting on my canvas. Their poems and vyakhs seem to explain life from a bigger standpoint.
I paint mysticism because it describes my actual self as we are not first human beings but spiritual beings. I like to paint in dark colours, red and black always, as they help me express myself in a better way. I aspire to bring a change through my art. So people may understand their soul and feel the nature like I do.

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Tell us about exhibitions you have done?

It was when I was doing my Art Therapy workshop , I was just 18 years old. The trainer artist helped us to sell and exhibit our works in Australia and I was able to present my painting at Ankara University, Turkey in Middle East crisis through the help of some generous mentors. I have exhibited my art in Australia as said and in Turkey and here in Kashmir I have exhibited my some paintings through Kashmir art quest and I in future look to have my own big grand exhibition of paintings.

What’s something that most people just don’t understand about your field?

People lack aesthetics about art, they don’t try to understand the emotion, the hard work, time behind a single piece of art work. They judge you for whatever you paint. Art is something Divine. It can be interpreted in various ways by different people. But they truly don’t understand its essence and the artist who is depicted in the particular painting. We are kind of not given that respect in the society for being just artists.

Does your social and political climate impact your artistic expression?

Yes, in a way it does but as I earlier stated, I am an idealist. I tend to live in utopias but somewhere it reflected even in my utopias and paintings. Socially, our Kashmir is known as Peer vear and it truly is a heritage of sufis and it gets depicted in my paintings. I see the brighter side, that is, political climate has lesser impact on my paintings but a huge influence on me as an artist.

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What does it mean to be an artist in Kashmir?

To be an artist in Kashmir is like being a living musical note to the dead and impassionate ear or like fallen crimson Chinar leaf in Autumn which is trampled upon without understanding its importance. Our society, according to me, will take ages to understand art and in true sense, appreciate it. But the process has started. Many people have started understanding its value but still it will take time. We don’t have avenues, and have social taboos related to it.

Do you have any advice for artists wanting to further develop their career?/ Any advice for aspiring artists?

I am just learning. Everyday teaches something new to me and there is always something new to learn but I would like to tell my fellow artists that do what your heart says and never ever stop painting, sketching, drawing anything which explains you and makes you what you are.

Edited by Dipanjan Mitra

 

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