Just like curiosity and the cat are interconnected, so is creativity and an artist. Some artists get recognition because of their inspiration and skill; others get success as a result of prayers. This is what Pakistani artist Shoaib Hassan Khilji believes. He lives in a village where, he remarks, “a human life values no more than a fistful of dust. I, too, think so. I began to understand and recognize myself right from that point.”
Grown up in a deeply religious environment, Shoaib Khilji believes that his creative philosophy begins right from Allah the Magnificent, the Absolute Creator. It is He Who made this life-filled Earth right out of nothing.
“We have been sent to this world so that each one of us writes the chapter he has been assigned. Now it is up to each one of us to do their best. I am one of the billions of these people. I began to indulge in art since I started to look at faces and figure, colors and hues, voices and sounds and take interest in them, and images I saw began to take shape and form in my own mind. I found that my art philosophy began to see the Creator’s Image in all the faces. That was certainly a Sufic thought,” he explains to IRIS ART MAGAZINE.
Shoaib Khilji further elaborates, “The chief source of my inspiration is the image of the Creator as I perceive it. Unique and original. Inimitable. When I grew up and began to go to school and have friends’ company, I experienced truth as well as lies.
I ask him, “What has been your chief source of inspiration?”
He responds earnestly, “I am deeply inspired by the Presence of my Creator and Provider. Nothing in this world exemplifies Him. When, I started going to school, I began to sit among village elders, I heard true stories as well as fables. From these discussions evolved my perception of life and Creation, and of art and observation. I began to see the world in its myriads of colors. From this chaos emerged my art. It opened up like a talismanic door. Slowly, I came to know its beauty, brilliance and glamor.”
Shoaib emphasizes, “To me, art is a form of creation or perception that is next to reality. I learned my art from humanity in all its colorful imagery. As an artist, I create art that focuses on varying human faces naturally, and this is my training since the days I lived among the faqeers and got seeped in their colors, feeling the pain that that felt.”
I want to know, “How would you describe your fondest memories – your childhood, family, teachers and classmates?”
He looks puzzled, “This question is too difficult, and even painful, for me to answer. My fondest dream was to get good schooling, to complete my education. But in my life, I have experienced only lies and frauds at every turn of life.
“Life goes on. It does not stop for you. Every moment in your life is devoted to one even of another. Painful memories accumulate over time. I have gone through an agonizing life but I had to endure everything that came my way; that I had to pass through. I realized that one has to bear all the difficulties without a moan or groan. In my heart, I was sure that at the end of the tunnel, there would be light. Success would be there. Victory would dawn upon me!
“My childhood went on as if I passed through a fragrant garden of roses. I had a wonderful time with my family and I learnt a lot from them. With my mother I spent 28 love-filled years, and from her I knew how to bear defeat with courage and how to face victory with chivalry. Before her eyes, I leant to walk upon my own two feet; to read and write and draw; and to recite the Holy Book. She made me learn to respect humanity as its second name is God’s worship, and that we must respect human rights as the repect for humanity is what rewards you in this world and the next. She taught me that it is Allah Who bestows upon us all the blessings that come our way in this life, that it is He Who has created our parents to care for us and to provide and protect us. It is our Blessed Prophet who has guided us on the right path. After our parents, it is our teacher who deserves greatest respect. Listening to her, I wondered why the teachers in this country, especially in our villages are so ignorant.”
When asked to comment upon his life as a young artist, Khilji remarked, “As a young man, I have my own dreams and desires. But as an artist, I hardly get any respect from people. They look at my art and shake their head in disappointment because they think that I should not have wasted my time and effort, and should have done something more worthwhile.”
Having been disappointed by this cold attitude, Khilji ceased to sit in the company of the ascetic and austere dervishes and faqirs. Instead, he befriended colors and lines. He reads human faces, figures and expressions and translates them in the language of art. He decided to speak only in this language and express his feelings through this idiom.
He dips his brushes in the colors of spirituality and spreads them on the canvas of existence. Loving humanity is his way of life. And an internal chaos keeps him active and alive.