Emerging Kashmiri artist Khytul Abyad brings us two of her illustrative works that can be viewed as standalone pieces or part of a greater patchwork that tells the story of her birthplace. Khytul has operated exclusively in the realm of Kashmiri contemporary art since her recent days as a student, working as a visual artist exploring different mediums and styles to develop a visual vocabulary of her own. Here she presents two pieces that venture into the realm of storytelling via illustration in line with the graphic novel. At the present, the graphic novel has yet to move beyond Sajad’s quintessential “Munnu” that set the stage, with other younger artists exploring the genre and medium through their own visual language and stylistic approaches to visual storytelling. Other visual storytellers who produce comics, political cartoons and illustrations have long maintained their signature styles and visual language without ever having the need or the desire to go into this long-form medium.
Such creative choices notwithstanding within that limited genre, another graphic novel, Naseer Ahmed’s “Kashmir Pending” with illustrations by India Today’s illustrator Suarabh Singh has followed as a work by multiple creators, Kashmiri and non-Kashmiri, reflecting the many directions that the Kashmir-themed or Kashmir-set graphic novel can take. However, as far as a graphic novel by one author and that too a young woman artist is concerned, Khytul’s artistic explorations presented here show promise in broadening the genre of the Kashmiri graphic novel even further, with an amplified diversification of sorts brought about in just over half a decade. With such considerations in mind, here are two storyboarded tales of fiction that permeate into a reality that is all too familiar to many Kashmiris. Such stories are located within the forgotten corridors of Kashmir’s everyday life, remaining unexpressed, silenced and made invisible up until young artists like Khytul engage their artistic sensibilities and artcraft to excavate the memory, experiences, and the lives of others, otherwise relegated to oblivion and brought to the fore by artistry such as Khytul Abyad’s.
This piece includes a note from the artist and relevant links from press (courtesy of Inverse’s bibliographic approach) to familiarize viewers/readers about this young artist’s work.