Paintings like Postcards in Solidarity from Across the LOC — by Iram Razzaq

Mar 26, 2019

UK-based artist Iram Razzaq, who was born and raised in Pakistan Administered Kashmir (Azad Kashmir), presents eleven of her paintings inspired by the 2010 uprising in Kashmir valley where more than 112 civilians, most of them school children, teens and youngsters, were killed in the protests of that gruesome year. Razzaq was motivated by a need to build solidarity and express the anguish that she felt in becoming aware of the horrors perpetrated on Kashmiris by the Indian Armed Forces during the protests that shook the entire valley and resulted in almost daily killings, injuries and damage to property, apart from the months long curfew that brought Kashmir to a halt.

Artist's Statement

I am a UK based artist born and raised in Pakistani administered Kashmir. Even though the UK has been a home to me for a long time, it remains a second one. One’s heart still belongs to one’s roots. As such, I am drawn to the colours, textures, structures and mediums that remind me of my first home.

In the context of art-making, I feel that paintings are the visual poems when words do not rhyme. There are numerous times when one has a lot to say but finds oneself unable to convey things verbally. This need for an alternative mode of expression found greater strength in me during the 2010 uprising in Indian Occupied Kashmir when around 112 young people were killed in cold blood by the Indian Armed Forces. Up until then, it wouldn’t be wrong if I say I was almost completely ignorant of the scale of atrocities committed on the other side of a place I grew up in (Azad Kashmir). I realized how little us Azad Kashmiris are informed of by the media and how much we have become the ‘slaves of freedom’ that we are not even bothered about actively participating in ways to bring up the issues faced by our other halves only a few kilometers away. Even though we are supposed to be the ‘free’ part of the divide, we are not educated on Kashmir other than the usual “Kashmir will become Pakistan.” It was not a topic of discussion when and where I was growing up. The majority of Azad Kashmiris consider themselves as Pakistanis as there is no concept of Kashmir’s existence without Pakistan.

It wasn’t until I befriended some wonderful people from Indian Occupied Kashmir, thanks to the internet and social media that I became fully aware of the nature and scale of the humiliations and brutalities faced by ordinary Kashmiris on a daily basis. There was months-long curfews imposed without any access to basic facilities including emergency medical care. Telephone and text messaging services were banned throughout the Valley. The only communication to the outside world was established through the limited access to the internet, which was how I got to know a brilliant bunch of emerging artists, writers, photographers and journalists trying to get their voice to the outside world in any way they knew possible. During those curfewed conversations I felt I almost experienced the imprisonment with them – only from a place that enjoyed every sense of the word freedom, far away from there. I was stirred within to the point that I had to do something to play whatever little part I could in highlighting what really goes on there, which otherwise remains hushed by the mainstream media. My paintings Childhood Under Curfew, Dreaming of Freedom, I Exist, All That was Left Behind Was Red, Go India Go Back, Martyrs’ Graveyard and The Piece Process were all the result of that very urge.

Other than politically motivated works, like any other artist, I take inspiration from my surroundings. It comes from everywhere. A prominent inspiration for me are the mighty trees. You will see them making an appearance in my paintings every once in a while. Nature, the greatest masterpiece there can ever be, has a way of awakening the creator in us if we choose to respond. As the great Picasso once said, “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.” I connect with nature to that effect and find creative inspiration within it.

Another powerful source for me is poetry. A random song lyric or a verse can leave an imprint on my mind so vivid that it has to be then transferred onto a canvas. I do not have a particular style or a theme that I work around unless for a specific cause or project. No two paintings are the same or even similar. I entertain every idea as it comes, in whatever form it chooses to appear. I am not the one for restrictions. I believe in natural flow. A lot of the times I pour colors onto a canvas, stand back and watch what they want to do and help them along. I am often asked how long it takes me to complete a painting. My reply always is that it depends on who is in charge, I or the painting.

I think every artist, whether a writer, an author, a singer or a performer, has a responsibility towards their skill. But it should not feel like a chore. It can only thrive on passion and love for creating as a core catalyst for creativity. As long as I am enjoying myself creating a piece of art, I know it is going to have a great impact too, on me and hopefully on others as well.

Childhood Under Curfew
75 x 48cm
Acrylic on canvas

The Piece Process
48 x 68cm
Acrylic and coffee on canvas

All That Was Left Behind Was Red
38 x 68cm
Acrylic and ink on canvas

All That Was Left Behind Was Red
Neither the screams could bring them back
Nor the tears that were shed
All that was left behind was Red
The shells, the pellets, all harmless they said
But all that was left behind was Red
Dreaming eyes were still
Stones frozen in hands
Stones packed with dreams
Traded with bullets in the head
All that was left behind was Red
So many broken promises
So many lost sights
Horrified days chasing the terrifying darks ahead
Faces give way to faces
Hands replace hands
That is all there is to change
Lives torn apart
Tears continue to fall dead
All that is left behind is Red!

I Exist
48 x 68cm
Acrylic on canvas

Remains I
40 x 48cm
Acrylicon canvas

Remains II
35cm x 45cm
Multimedia on canvas

Remains III
35cm x 45cm
Acrylic on canvas

Go India Go Back
60 x 60cm
Acrylic on canvas

Martyrs of 2010 Graveyard
48 x 58
Acrylic on canvas

Dreaming of Freedom
56cm x 56cm
Acrylic on canvas

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About the Contributor

Currently based in United Kingdom, Iram Razzaq was born and raised in Pakistan Administered Kashmir where she received her early education before moving to England in 1996. Her interest in art developed through drawing diagrams in biology class in the 10th grade. She also learned from the fascinating sketches found at the beginning of each novelette in her mum’s literary magazines. A BTEC diploma in Art and Design at the Sheffield College allowed her to choose one of many fields of art to study further. She graduated from the Manchester Metropolitan University in 2002 with BA (HONS) in Textiles. After graduating, instead of pursuing her career in the world of textiles, she enjoyed independently creating artworks using acrylics on canvas and also, occasionally, watercolour on paper. She has just started to branch out and exhibit at the local art fairs with the Doncaster Art Fair in December 2018 being the first one. She intends to continue on this journey in the future.