In the UAE, where tolerance is a virtue we wear on our sleeves and embrace differences with warmth, it’s not surprising that Indians and Pakistanis are jointly clubbed as the desi bunch. Yes, we often engage in a friendly banter when a cricket match between the two nations is on, and don’t leave any opportunity to highlight which country’s biryani is better and why; but in the end, when the jokes have been laughed at and songs have been sung (both Bollywood and Coke Studio), we forget what divides us, rather focus on what keeps us together. It’s this vibe of positivity that one witnessed at the opening night of Jashn-e-Azaadi, a group art exhibition organised by Funun Arts along with Novotel World Trade Centre, on a Thursday evening at Novotel, Dubai. A total of 40 artists, 20 Pakistani and 20 Indian artists based in the UAE, joined hands to celebrate the Independence Day (August 14 and 15) of the two countries, together.
“Art inspires us to visit the concept of unity and see ourselves as part of a bigger universe,” said sisters Shiba and Farah Khan, founders, Funun Arts. “It’s a unique concept where artists from both the countries are together on one platform to spread the message of positivity and universal love via paintings and photographs.” The artworks on display depict the culture, colours and tradition of the nations, one can see a mix of media on display, with each piece narrating a story expressed through colours and textures. There’s a peek into the truck art of Pakistan and a depiction of Lord Krishna, there is Islamic art on display, just as there is a Ganesha. The chief guest for the evening was Suhail Mohammed Al Zarooni, chairman of Al Zarooni Foundation & Al Zarooni Group of Companies. The event was also attended by special guest Yasser Algergawi, director of programs and partnership, Ministry of Tolerance — UAE, alongside distinguished guests from both countries.
Indian artist Afshan Quraishi said, “We share large swathes of culture, especially our common love for food and art. Even some of our folktales are same. Not to forget our love for Sufism, both poetry and music is a tying factor.” Her work on display represents women from India, dressed in colourful attire. Adds Pakistani artist Farhat Gul, “Art is one of the main means of communication that connects the world and is a reflection of cultural, political and social dynamics. It’s wonderful to use art as a form of representation of people, tradition, culture, freedom, understanding, unity, and harmony.” Gul’s work of a young girl on a boat in her land depicts the sensitivity of emotion and fluidity of movement. Indian artist Akbar Saheb’s work depicts the diversity of India, “Art is a reflection of people and their social context. It also unifies differences and brings awareness. All artistic creations, regardless of form, have the same potential to communicate with anyone.” Pakistani artist Mujeeb Kehar’s work is a composition of Mahatma Gandhi and Muhammad Ali Jinnah in one frame. “Separation in art is equal to separation in society. Art is one of the main means of communication that can connect the world and so says my artwork,” he adds.
The exhibition is on display until 31 August at Novotel World Trade Centre, Dubai