Flight to Enlightenment

Mesmerising paintings inspired by dancing dervishes now at Z Gallery

Khusro Subzwari
Khusro Subzwari

Khusro Subzwari on Rumi Mevlana’s poetry and finding inspiration in mystic dancers.

Based on the mystic dances of dervishes, Pakistani artist Khusro Subzwari’s ‘Flight to Enlightenment’ exhibition features 37 mesmerising paintings on display at Z Gallery in the Four Points by Sheraton. An engineer by profession, having gained his master’s degree in civil engineering from the University of Oklahoma in 1985, Subzwari turned his passion for art into a full-time career seven years ago.

The collection that will be exhibited in Dubai until the end of September also dwells on the philosophy of Mevlana Rumi’s poetry. Rumi – a 13th century Persian poet – is known for his literary works that focus on Sufism, a denomination of Islam. The whirling dervishes, who follow a Sufi path and are known for their vow of poverty and austerity, feature in each of the 57-year-old’s works. He credits his inspiration for the collection from his visit to Turkey in 2011, where he saw the renowned dervishes for the first time.

‘During my stay in Istanbul, I witnessed dervishes in different parts of the city. Their movements on Rumi’s poetry gripped my attention. For the past three years, I have been painting them and have, so far painted 500 pieces based on different verses of Rumi poetry,’ explains Subzwari.

Each of the paintings displayed is based on a particular verse of Rumi’s poetry on spirituality and love that the artist found relevant. Subzwari uses superimpositions of layers to achieve an ethereal effect on the acrylic-on-canvas paintings.

‘Rumi’s poetry and quotes are a great inspiration to the reader. Reading these is like removal of mental blockages, therefore imparting a swifter and very positive approach towards life. Pastels have a softer touch and I want to highlight the softer side of life. The outstretched arms are an expression of extreme passion towards life and enlightenment,’ explains Subzwari.

Since his experience with the dervishes, Subzwari’s work has been more focused on creation and nature. The self-taught artist works in different styles and themes, from landscapes and cityscapes to abstractions.

‘My inspiration is drawn from belief in the invisible spiritual world and that there is more to life than the materialistic world. I want to convey this feeling to others so that they can benefit from it. Since Rumi’s work sends messages that are synonymous to what I feel, I feel inspired,’ says Subzwari.

In one of the artist’s paintings, a dervish can be seen whirling with arms outstretched in what looks like a meadow of flowers. It is accompanied with a quote from Rumi, ‘Through love all that is bitter will be sweet, through love all that is copper will be gold, through love all pain will turn to medicine.’ Another painting features a dervish looking towards the sky with arms outstretched with the quote, ‘Love will find its way through all languages on its own.’ In each of these works, the artist’s strokes are blurred and hazy. These earthy, pastel colours affirm Subzwari’s love for nature and positive outlook on life.

‘My father was a renowned clairvoyant, his extra sensory perception was highly developed.People used to flock to him for this; I think he was a highly spiritual soul. For me enlightenment gives a softer approach to life with higher energy levels,’ says Subzwari.

An artistic background in the field of engineering proved to be an asset for the artist in the development of his understanding of form, composition, balance, texture and creation of the three dimensional effects in his paintings. While pursuing his engineering studies, the Karachi native continued participating in art related programmes. His oil painting work was awarded second prize in a competition judged by renowned Pakistani artist Ismail Gulgee in 1978. Since then he has showcased his paintings in different cities of Pakistan and various international exhibitions in Istanbul, London and the UAE.

‘My passion is 35 years old but seven years ago I felt that I should dedicate myself full-time to express and convey my thoughts and my inspirations. Art comes naturally to me and then one can learn from what beauty is around us,’ he explains. ‘Nature is the best artist to learn from.’
Flight to Enlightenment. Free. Until September 30. Open daily from 4.30pm-11pm. Z Gallery, Four Points by Sheraton, Sheikh Zayed Road (04 3230333).

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