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  • Work by Farhan Mujib.
  • Work by Farhan Mujib.
  • Work by Farhan Mujib.
  • Work by Farhan Mujib.
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Design and a ‘Mortal’ Experience of Beauty

Farhan Mujib, a physicist by profession tries to infuse the Sufi world view in his collages inspired by local ‘Islamic’ religious monuments. Shubhalakshmi shukla captures the essence of this collage artist while explaining the radical Sufi vision seen in his works.

"Ae kalam hamd us khuda ki kar, Jisne paida kiye hai shams-o- kamar…."

These are the lines in Urdu script, as a part of the collage made by Farhan Mujib. When read out by him on my request, its praise for divinity was familiar at the same time inspiring. The poet surrenders to the beauty of 'creation', the force of which governs his ' kalam' (pen), to write (the praise of the creator). The collage is of a mosque (Islamic religious monument) which includes a broad surrounding frame, on which the poetry ( hamd) is written. In the above lines the poet is asking the 'write' to praise the one (khuda), who has given form to the sun (shams ) and the moon (kamar)-the two entities that set momentum of 'time'!

I wondered what taboos resist, or make one unable to appreciate the beauty of the text?

In the poetry quoted, the word 'Khuda ' envelops 'khud', meaning the 'self'(Sufi explanation), and 'hamd ' is a form of prose-poetry, usually read or sung in praise of god (Khuda ). Although the Sufis understand the 'self' as devoid of ego (or selfless), and most of their expression   emerge from the philosophic  belief in 'union' with god or the prophets, in their literary expressions there remains an inner quest about their real bodily presence in the world. The positions of the 'seeker' and the 'truth' is also understood as interchangeable which according to Islamic faith is offensive.

I observed a possibility of making the following observations while conversing with Farhan Mujib about his thought process. First,

'Architecture itself becoming the body' as he mentioned that appreciation of beauty in mortal from is 'blasphemy' according to religious faith, and second, deriving an imagery of 'self' around these planes of experiences. However, his engagements do not follow any such frame work.

His collages construct religious Islamic monuments of local context in the state of ruins!   The ruining state, with cracks on the facade (developed through designs and peeling off paper on the walls) however allows the monuments to appear 'beautified' in their fragility. Patches of bright colors juxtaposed the eroding walls.     

The process of working for Farhan Mujib is 'playful'. He takes photographs of existing of historical sites out of impulse, collects ornamental designs from different sources and places them together.

The eventual visual forms suggest his fascination for religious monuments of local context. These are either an interior of a dargah(grave ofsufi saint), a window (suggestive of opening and closing of 'heart' in Sufi poetries) or even a kitsch appearing flower pot. He attempts transforming the facades of these local architectural forms, through his own interventions by adding jaalis, arched shelves, Persian carpet designs on the walls etc.

ries of Tayyab Pash Quadri (local singer from Hyderabad, sings ' Naat'), who is driven by the longing for the glimpse of the 'jaali' , desiring pilgrimage to Prophet Muhammad's grave ( roza) where he is buried (in Medina, presently in western Saudi Arabia), Farhan too makes religious monuments, but of local contexts.  

"…Kabe ka kaba ho roza, pyare nabi tumahar, jaali roze ki deekha do, shah-e-zemmani…mujhko tayeba mein bula lo shah-e-zemmani…"- Tayyab Pash Quadri

Here, the poet utters these words only when he is no more able to hold his desire for the pilgrimage ( Ziyarat). He expresses an anguished longing towards the prophet, and as if, starts seeing these glimpses (actually a specific geographic location, in Medina ) almost everywhere around him.

In Farhan Mujib we see a detachment, he never visits a dargah. On my reference to Pash Quadri, he responded ".. Praise of anything 'mortal' is blasphemy.." He seems to be critical and yet means to say that Pash Quadri's passion for jaali is enchanting, as it informs a collective desire for union with Prophet Mohammad (a noticeable fervor in the religious milieu).      

What is important here is that the artist and the poet in context create these expressions without much critical-consciousness of their religious or secular stances within the creative processes. They happen to work within a complex plane where a Sufi expression struggles to emerge from the Islamic faith which does get confirmed within their imagery. Thus, although Farhan Mujib critically comments upon beauty being a blasphemy in mortal form, he himself does not make any attempt to break way from it, in his image making process.

Farhan Mujib is a physicist by profession who decides to explore his creative capabilities. He is inspired by design elements of Kutub Minar, and most of the architecture of the northern India , tomb of Humayun being a favorite.

His collages are exhibited at 'The mosaic is not prosaic', group show organized by Apparao Galleries, at the Jehangir Nicholson Gallery (NCPA) from April 13th to  26th, 2007 .


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