Artist Rafiq Shah's “Azaan Ke Rang” is an interesting study of colourful compositions. The outcome of a perfect composition that reflects through a variety of dark, bright and flat colours define 25-year-old Shah's works.

Many times the title of the exhibition is more important than its contents. “Azaan Ke Rang”, a show of abstract art by Rafique Shah at Lalit Kala Gallery attracts attention because of the same.

The outcome of a perfect composition that reflects through a variety of dark, bright and flat colours define 25-year-old Shah's works. Shah, highly spiritual in nature and a master of soft and euphonic voice, has attempted to show the colours of the five-time prayers in Islam through his perfect lines.

Hence, a few of his works are on the azaan or muezzin's call for prayer in Fajr or dawn time, others on the colours of the day time prayer or Zuhr as it is called. Yet another work shows colours of pre-dusk or Asr prayer, then dusk or Maghrib prayer and finally, night or Isha prayer. If it is the first prayer of the day, his colours are dimly-bright as if reflected through the sleeping sky. They become brighter as the day grows, and turn dark in the final one. In all these hues, a few lines criss-cross playfully. Shah, interestingly, doesn't mix colours. He has a reason.

“Since the time of the prayer is fixed and you can't tamper with it, same is with my colours. I ‘limit' them. Moreover, as once Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan said in his song about God that ‘Tu har rang mein hai, aur har rang se tera pardah hai' (You are in all colours and yet You aren't in one colour) I try to explore all colours to see in which colour is He not present and in which one He is? So, I try all colours in their purity and never mix any texture in them.”

Shah's background is as interesting as intriguing are his abstract compositions. His grandfather was a ‘faqir' ( and Shah too is one. Recalls this native of Bhopal who obtained his bachelors degree in fine arts from Indore School of Fine Art where M.F. Husain had studied too.

“I have taken after my grandfather. I used to go to beg with my mother on the streets of Satwal in Bhopal. The shame, the pride and the anxiety of those days have crept into my works. I used to be busy drawing and was not worldly-wise. My parents used to think that I would never be able to help my cause. But by God's grace I got to know of the Indore School of Fine Arts and got admission. I don't know where I got the money from. When Lalit Kala invited me to does this show a year ago, I didn't have a penny, but some one sponsored it, and some friends lent money.”

Shah has been living in Delhi for over five years and has a studio at Lado Sarai. He still begs. “I never have money in my pocket but when I need it, it comes,” he says casually adding, “I think it is only because of my faith in God. Sometimes people come to me on their own and buy my paintings, and life goes on without any problem.”

Did anyone say prayer is the voice of faith?

The show concludes this Thursday.

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