Artwork by Indian artist Afshan Quraishi displayed in Dubai. Photographer: Kamal Kassim/ Gulf Today
Raghib Hassan, Staff reporter
DUBAI: While walking at the Z Lounge of Four Points by Sheraton, Dubai, visitors gravitate towards the art works gracing the walls of the lounge. Each and every artwork mesmerises you and makes your stay pleasant. As you watch, adore, and pass by these paintings and artworks, curiosity to know more about the artist grows very strong and you get a desire to meet the mind behind these wonderful works to appreciate the artist and her artworks.
But you will be really surprised and amazed to know that these artworks are created by an Indian artist, Afshan Quraishi, whose journey is also very appealing and inspiring. She started her professional journey only after her kids grew up and settled in their lives.
Afshan can be considered a born artist. Without having any formal education in the subject, she does magic with her hands. When did she realise that she has an art in her?
She said, “It was my dad who noticed that I was a good artist. I was doing one of my science projects during my college days and he looked at my finished work and appreciated that. That time only my dad decided to get a coach for the art.
“My father, who himself comes from a royal family of Kurnool, Hyderabad, India, was very much into the art himself.”
Afshan Quraishi with one of her artworks.
My father introduced me to a very famous artist, Azeez Azmi Saheb, who was my mentor for fine arts. Azeez Azmi was the founder of The Fine Arts Society in Kurnool, my hometown, she added.
Afshan feels privileged to be mentored by him. She said, “He was a harsh critic and encouraged us to be self-critical of our work. He was a master in portraits in oil.”
Recalling her master's words, she said, “He would always tell, ‘Everyone can paint but you need a lot of patience and don’t expect instant gratification. Be your own judge and critic’.”
He would come every day to her house to coach her sister and her until she graduated and married.
A postgraduate in science, Afshan's training under the able master ended soon after her marriage.
Soon after her marriage she landed in the UAE leaving her passion for the arts behind to begin a new journey of life.
Sharing her experience of arriving in the UAE in the early 80s, she said, “I have been here for four decades and kept on travelling back and forth to India.”
Meanwhile, Afshan dedicated herself completely to her family. She got busy into making her house a beautiful place. She considered her house a canvas where she wanted to see her son and daughter’s dream painted and fulfilled. And she succeeded in doing so.
Afshan can be considered a born artist.
She was so occupied with her two kids that she did not even look back at the brush and paints which she had left long ago.
When did she embrace the canvas and brush to paint a beautiful journey of an artist which was unattended in pursuit of looking after her family?
She said, “My kids went abroad to study leaving me alone. So it was a very lonely time for me. It looked like my children grew up very fast. So I started sketching my children in order to get connected with them. Then I started oil portraits and acrylic and that was the beginning of my new innings.”
Sharing her experience of starting her journey of rediscovering she said. “I met a beautiful lady in Dubai who was organising group shows at an Italian café. She saw my artworks and encouraged me take part in a group show. Though I was not confident but to my surprise two of my paintings got sold the same evening and that was a big inspiration for me.”
I participated in World Art Dubai with the same group three years ago and I moved ahead, she said.
Talking about her solo show “Diversity in Portraits by Afshan Quraishi,” at Z Lounge at Four Points by Sheraton, Dubai, she said, “This is my second solo exhibition which started on March 17 and will continue till May 31. I want to thank Anu Van Der Sande and Nakul Ankolikar for their wonderful opportunity they have provided me.”
Frida Kahlo and Rembrandt are her all-time favourite artists. “I copied a lot of Rembrandt’s work while I was learning the ropes of art.”
When asked to look at her journey, she said, “People around me love my work. They always say you have talents, so keep doing the work and never give up.”
A resident of Sharjah herself, while praising the art scene in Sharjah, she said, “Sharjah has lots of beautiful places, like Sharjah Art Foundation and Maraya Art Centre. Both the destinations are fantastic for artists. It is a great place for emerging artists like me.”
Sharing her daily routine, she said, “I have a discipline. I spend 2-3 hours every day in my studio. I do something every day. I make sure I dedicate some time for art.”
Calling herself a passionate traveller, she said, “I have travelled all over the world. Travelling is something like an art which gives your mind an opportunity to think more.”
Praising the artworks, Anu Van Der Sande, Public Relations and Marketing Manager of the hotel said, “These are great pieces of work. People who come here always appreciate these paintings. Lots of people ask about these artworks.”
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