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Salva Rasool's affection for Allah on canvas, crowd throngs for a glimpse
Tuesday March 31, 2015 10:40 AM, Hena Farhat,

Hundreds of people in the last four days have thronged Cache Art Gallery in Bandra (West) to interact with calligrapher and artist Salva Rasool, her affection for Allah - the Almighty, and discover her artwork which revolves around the theme of the word 'Allah'.

Salva Rasool

The art exhibition is titled as 'Elahiya' and is curated by Piali Syam, who is known for her curation of the Cancer Patients Aid Association's (CPAA) annual art exhibition 'Colours of Life.' To make the exhibition more noteworthy, Salva Rasool has decided to donate part of the sale proceeds from 'Elahiya' to CPAA.

Salva Rasool, daughter of Dr Abdul Kareem Naik and sister of famous Islamic preacher Dr Zakir Naik, for her artwork picks verses from the Quran, and paints them across the canvas in a vibrant mix of colours. Her paintings are layered with several textures, giving them a 3D-like effect.

Salva Rasool realised this instinctively when she was studying in the renowned Sir JJ School of Arts. And from earthen pots then to abstract calligraphic paintings now, her magical journey continues still, ever gaining steam along the way.

Conventional tools were a barrier – so she began creating her own, until it came to a point where paintings were made entirely without the use of brushes. Materials being a non-deterrent, Salva has worked with an array of mediums such as terracotta, ceramics, pottery, leather, metal, fabric, beads, sequence and much more, often using them in ways that are unfamiliar yet pleasant

"I make use of absolute scrap when I paint. At times, I cut credit cards because they're thick, as they help hold my paint. I've also used wires. When I look at these things in daily life, I think of ways to use them in my paintings," she says.

For those who grasp the script – the work is exuberant brilliance. For those that are unfamiliar with Arabic, the paintings are pure art. Deflecting from the traditional, Salva has skilfully managed to exhibit secular and universal elements never seen before in this genre. The untrained eye relates to the myriad hues and textural vibrancy, while the precise ones catch the subliminally engineered curves and lines.

If one were to watch her work, you would often catch her staring at a blank canvas from a distance, visualizing multiple design variations at a rapid pace, interjecting each with a pre conceived concept, and virtually overlaying the blank spaces with possible outcomes. Once an idea takes root – she believes in starting with the final product immediately, skipping the oft considered mandatory rough work.

"Art is instinct – and instinct is instantaneous. If I were to postpone just a moment – it would be lost, never to be discovered in that exact form again", she says.

Today, Salva has incorporated her passion with eclectic vision, which is appreciated with unparalleled beauty. She works in tandem with interior designers and finds it symbolically challenging to create the most sterling vista of synthesized work.

The enigmatic and mystical scripts of stylized Arabic calligraphy fused with abstract modern art have been appreciated and collected by art aficionados and are a part of important private collections in India, South Africa, the Middle East, the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States.

Like every artist, for Salva too it was not easy to get a chance to display her artwork at a popular gallery. Salva's golden moment was when in July 2010 an artist cancelled his show at the Art Museum Gallery, Kala Ghoda in Mumbai, citing the reason that "paintings don't sell during monsoons". Salva got a chance and she remembers the show being well-received.

"I was surprised to see even non-Muslims taking keen interest in my art," she recalls.

Salva started working on canvas in 1991, when she was looking for a painting for her living room. "I didn't want anything that was mass-produced. I thought of making a painting with a verse from the Quran (Allah does not burden a soul beyond that it can bear) as I felt that it renders one with so much strength," she says.

Soon after, Salva got an order for a similar painting from a buyer in South Africa, and then there was no looking back.

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