Channelising the divine through calligraphy – Qamar Dagar

We often know the art that an artist creates and yet know very little about them or their process of bringing artworks to life. We met up with Qamar Dagar to understand a little better the person and the process behind the exquisite calligraphy artworks.

Tell us about your connect with music since your family background is musical and how you came to be a calligraphy artist?

Music is a way to remember God. Even my father and uncles would always start their performances with a prayer. So the process is always intrinsic. Alaap is a prayer broken into musical notes. It is an emotional connect. For many it would appear very abstract but for the artist it is real.

You can also say it has no language and yet it connects at the same time. See language is like a double edged sword. You can look at it as a tool to communicate but it also restricts the meaning encoding to what is known of the words being spoken. In that sense art forms like music, calligraphy transcends the limitations of language. People can find new meanings within them

I always wanted to be a visual artist from child. I would draw, paint, scribble etc. That was my way of having fun. It gave me immense joy. In retrospective I realize it also laid the foundation of my future career choice.

How has the art of calligraphy influenced your everyday existence?

On an everyday basis the art form has seeped into different aspects of my life. It is about having a sense of real acceptance of self and world around us.  It is about trying to understand the other person’s viewpoint even if you do not agree with it and about finding your peace as nothing falls into place without that deep sense of inner peace. There is a word called ‘hamvaa’r (even). Things have to be in that state for the creative process to germinate. You want to be at peace, centered but real spiritual state is not in your control. It happens on its own sometimes.

What is your process of making calligraphy art?

I look for what is the sound of the word. I focus on the meanings of word and start from there. In a couplet one or two words always stand out. They jump at you. I look for those words. I am interested in the picture form of the language I have known since childhood. The alphabets, they are our friends since childhood.

As we grow and evolve, our choice of words also evolves and conversation becomes more intense. You can say alphabets are living entities when looked through this lens. They are also abstract decorative embellishments especially in the context of calligraphy.  They also exist in simple forms. Thus it is always about trying to find that balance between the simple and the embellished.

I always want to look at the happier side of life. Joy, acceptance etc. these are the cues I want to hold on to. You can say I am attracted to the positive. Sometimes I am curious and I just try something. It is always about a try.

How do you decode the symbolic value of alphabets over time?

Gyani. – Wise

What I do today will be different from what I will do in the future even if the topic and the artist is the same. There is scope of different interpretations over time. It is also depends on how I am internalizing the meaning and how I am expressing the same. Abstract allows you to look at something beyond the apparent. It also enables subjective interpretations.

What role does music play in your work given your family history?   

Music is a part of my life. However if the state of meditative union does occur then you do not need any external stimulus to achieve or aid you as an artist. This state of meditative union is like being very centered. It is as if you are there and not there at the same time. You are in a state of flow and very productive because you are in the moment.

How easy or difficult is it to stay in the moment?

It is not always easy but sometimes it happens. Once I wanted to write ‘buzurg’ (elders). So in my mind I had that these are my ancestors and my hand moved to create a banyan tree. It was a big tree and the alphabets became the pointers to sharpen the banyan tree. It was a metaphor of each leaf had a connect and an unique existence in relation to the tree.

Buzurg – Elder

What is the role of gender in your art?

It is not something I think about. Art is not about gender. It is about whether it is sensitive or not. That is how you connect with others. In my family there is no difference. I guess my fluidity comes from my upbringing, experience, exposure and of course my liking for colors.

This one called Usha (dawn), I did not plan it. It just happened. Like someone struck a matchstick and just lit it up. I just want to create art that brings profound joy. You just have to surrender and let the Divine flow through you sometimes.

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Usha – dawn

Qamar Dagar would be a part of Changing Narratives on Day 1.

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Change is the only constant.

We are all constantly evolving and changing. Our self-concepts and our roles in society are also dynamic. Our notions of gender and what is means to be a woman in today’s society are also undergoing transformation.

The ideas that were sufficient yesterday are no longer adequate to capture the essence of being a woman today. It is against this backdrop that a 5 day ode to being a woman called Changing Narratives is being organized at IGNCA, Delhi by the students of the PG Diploma in Cultural Management.

MuseumCultureMarketing (MCM) is happy to be a gold sponsor for the event. Come and join us at IGNCA from the 4th-8th of March, 2020 between 10AM – 7 PM.

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