Artists rediscover canvas to bind Kashmiris

Last week, 60 artists from all over the world came together to showcase their work under a single roof — an abandoned silk factory in Srinagar.

Last week, 60 artists from all over the world came together to showcase their work under a single roof — an abandoned silk factory in Srinagar.  Curated by eminent artists, Syed Mujtaba Rizvi and Veer Munshi, it was the first attempt to revive artistic traditions of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) after a gap of some decades. Another important aspect of the exhibition was that many of the artists whose work was displayed and appreciated by visitors are Kashmiri Pandits who left the state in the aftermath of the militant violence in 1989-90. The organisers said that the exhibition was aimed at restoring harmony between the majority Muslim and minority Brahmin Hindu communities of the Valley. The exhibition was held in 120-year-old Resham Khana as the Srinagar’s silk factory is popularly known by its Urdu variant. It was set up by Dogra ruler, Maharaja Pratap Singh (July 18, 1848-September 23, 1925). What is left of it today is three ramshackle filature houses, the latest built in 1917, a water storage house and an office building. Holding the exhibition in such an unsafe building surprised many. “I was shocked to see such beautiful, precious and great works of art being displayed inside such a ruined and abandoned structure. When I protested I was told this is not just a mundane place, but something connected with our past. There could not have been a better place to hold such an event meant to ponder about our past, our present, and our future,” said Asma Irshad, a student.

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