"Faiza Shaikh paints the philosophy she meditates upon. She uses verses from the Koran, the Gita and other religious texts and mantras to represent the universality of their ideas. Her colours are evocative of the scars of this devotion. They represent the sacrifices, hope, judgement and other emotional incidents of life. She does not give form to the abstract ideals. It is her palette, the texture of paint and brush that take us into own dimensions of knowing; to re-look at the texts she inserts within these marks, where looking we become ourselves again.
Her work is rooted in the contemporary world. She chooses not to present the way we are in a manner that questions this or states what we see around us everyday. She is not unconcerned with issues of urban existence, or racial discrimination, of the disparities between the rich and poor. She is a part of this world, she lives and breathes its air as we do, is as affected by its pollutants, but her paintings present a quest for perfection which takes impetus from this world without depicting its context.
Religious intolerance arises from our ignorance about each others faith. This has misguided elements to create cleavages in society, indulging in abominable acts of violence and terror. All scriptures have outlined concepts of Dharma, Yudh and Jihad to establish justice where wars have been fought for a cause; recourse to violence permitted only in unavoidable circumstances. The world of contemporary art has sought to address these issues by presenting a mirror of communal violence and disharmony. Faiza does not concern herself with the images of this mirror. She is not interested in recounting experiences that feed off themselves and their negative emotions, perpetuating indignation or outrage. Her voice simply says: look into the mirror of your being, know yourself to realize that your battles are unnecessary. For when each religion speaks the same truth, outlines the same vision and everything leads to the same reality, all of this is just a tamasha. It is about clamouring to be noticed; arising from perceived insecurities and a misconception of ourselves.
Much of Contemporary art is fuelled by ideas violation and abuse of human nature. Technology aids presentation of what is seen and heard. There is no scope to hide. These artists compel us to look at ourselves, how grotesque we have become. Some others have the gift of humour, to be mirthful and make others laugh too. They look at the tamasha; see its perils and pain, but recognize that art has never been able to change social ideals, merely contribute to the language of expression. They enjoy the drama of life being played out on the stage of illusion. There are others like Fiaza Shaikh who takes existence more seriously; their contribution is this realization that life is sacred. It is precious for it is an opportunity to know, to touch the light that claims our existence.
She has scripted on gold leaf the wisdom of texts such as the Koran and Bhagavad Gita. Those who read Sanskrit and Urdu may have an advantage but the essence here is not the specifics of language. It’s about universal truth and faith in ideas that have been handed down through centuries of self-discovery. Her depiction of the Gayatri mantra as a blessing evokes the idea of faith. This mantra is attuned to universal consciousness; its chanting aligns our minds to this, via worship of the sun which is the embodiment of light – the source of all knowledge. Painted as a splash of sunshine yellow on a dark ground, illuminating the mantra written in Sanskrit, this painting is a very simple representation of the concept. This painter does not experiment or intellectualize, but working within the range of her intuition she presents subtle impressions."
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