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The calligraphy-artist for whom art has no religion4 min read

July 27, 2021 3 min read


The calligraphy-artist for whom art has no religion4 min read

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Have you seen how religious places have amazing artwork on their walls? From churches to monasteries, temples to mosques, God’s intended earthly abode is a masterpiece! Have you ever thought the ones who paint these holy walls? Today, Owliver brings to you the story of one such artist who has enlivened many a walls with his art and message of love and peace. Anil Kumar Chowhan is a a 50-year-old artist based out of Hyderabad who has painted Quranic verses on the walls of around 200 mosques in a career spanning thirty years.

Let’s get to know more about this artist, shall we?

Image: The Hindu

Anil Kumar Chowhan, a calligraphy artist based in Hyderabad, found his passion while painting signboards for shops in Urdu to earn a living. Chowhan had never taken any formal training in Islamic art or the Urdu language. But he used to paint signboards in the language. It was only a matter of time before he started recognising alphabets and words. Even in his spare time, Chowhan started writing the Urdu script to work on his craft. Soon he was chosen to embellish landmark architecture around the city with his calligraphy of Quranic verses.

In 1990, he got his first big assignment. He was asked to beautify Hyderabad’s iconic Noor mosque with Quranic verses.

Bagging that big assignment was proof that not only was my talent recognised, but that I had also received the stamp of approval from the city’s elite which would open doors for me. And it did

Anil Kumar Chowhan, Al Jazeera

Chowhan belonged to a family of limited means and had to leave school after Class 10th to support the family income. He was good at art and thought of turning this skill into a career through signboard painting. Now, he makes close to INR 27,000 a month through all the work he gets from all over the country.

In a career spanning 30 years, Chowhan has also painted 30 temples with the images of Hindu gods and goddesses alongside mausoleums and monasteries.

Image: Al Jazeera © Anil Kumar Chowhan

Chowhan took remuneration for the first 100 mosques but has worked for free for the other hundred for he feels a spiritual connect with his work.

Chowhan was a Hindu painting mosques. He faced some opposition to carry on his work. He went ahead and got a formal decree from Jamia Nizamia University, Hyderabad to carry on the task he feels he is meant to participate in. The University had already accepted his beautiful work by hanging a six feet-by-four feet (183cmx122cm) canvas of Surah Yasin, thirty-six chapters of the Quran, prepared by Chowhan in its gallery. Now, he is recognised as a spiritual soul who is deeply respected by the community.

He is the busiest during the month of Ramzan moving from one mosque to the other spreading the message of peace.

Image: Al Jazeera ©Anil Kumar Chowhan

Chowhan believes that art does not speak the language of division and is a unifying force across social boundaries.

I believe art has no religion. God, Allah, Jesus: they are all one. And we’re God’s children…Mosques, temples, monasteries, I have embellished them all. All these places give out the same message, of love, peace and the oneness of mankind. Religion is a unifying force, not a divisive one.

Anil Kumar Chowhan, Al Jazeera

Chowhan also writes poetry in Urdu, and recites his work in gatherings.

With excerpts from Al Jazeera and The Hindu

(In the Spotlight is a weekly column that features people who are in the news for all the right reasons)

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