Vibrant cutting edge art

Vibrant cutting edge art

Vibrant cutting edge art

Preserving the traditions and arts of one’s society is an expression of patriotism, for culture is an essential aspect of nationhood. This holds true particularly for our country, given it’s multicultural matrix.

Syed Fakruddin Huseni, more familiar as ‘Mysore Huseni’, for his popularity in reaching out to people in remote villages of South India, while stationed at Mysore, is a paper-cutting artist who is as much a philanthropist as he is a patriot and a practicing philosopher. As a devout Muslim, he offers his daily namaz with the same fervour that he has for cutting out his favourite paper sculptures of Shiva, Ganesha, and Durga, in varied hues and poses.

Shattering myths

A recurring subject of Huseni’s art works are those of deities from the Hindu pantheon. Having risen above sectarian ideas, and unfazed by criticisms of “using the icons of heathens”, he has traversed across horizons and concepts to specialise and popularise “Sanjhi”, the Indian paper-cutting art, as distinct from the well-known Kirigami art of Japan.

Why sanjhi, whose origin and leitmotif is the Hindu deity Krishna? “I don’t understand such compartmentalisations. Sanjhi is Indian, and I wanted to popularise it. But, I have moved beyond such icons to contemporary images, cut in my own style,” says Huseni.
Sanjhi originated in Mathura, Gujarat, as a stencil art for rangoli in the 14th Century.

Huseni has honed it into a skill on a larger canvas, with decorative and commercial value. To make a living exclusively from a traditional art is nearly impossible today, but this artist from Kanagal near Periyapatna, who grew up in rural environs, is content with his modest economic status. What propels him is his passion to generate awareness about such art forms.

Sanjhi Kala Loka is Huseni’s one-man outfit set up in 2002. He has held hundreds of paper art workshops all over Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu including remote areas. He provides the raw materials free of cost and does not charge for the workshops.

To help cut expenses, he ropes in locals as assistants, which further propagates his cause. His framed, wall-mounted, contemporary paper relief sculptures focussed with artistic lighting to give a 3-D effect, are showcased in art galleries. He also teaches in interior and fashion design colleges to lend economic sustenance to his altruistic endeavours.

Huseni’s art life began with a simple liking for fun – “I was fascinated by the form of Ganesha, and as a young boy, I began making mud Ganesha idols and offered them free for my school puja, and for many homes in my village during Ganesha Chaturti.” His enthusiasm has not waned even after two decades, his day-long paper art festivals at beaches, market places and village fairs to make this art affordable and accessible to all being hugely popular.

Eight countries including the UK, France, and Australia have a private collection of his drawings; his 45,000 rare, single-line drawings are the largest number by any artist, and his rainbow-coloured series on the effects of different kinds of lighting on CDs, is a beautiful, specialised art form in itself. His fine arts degree from Karnatak University, Dharwad, gave impetus to become creative and made him a five-time awardee of the state-level Anche Kuncha recognition, besides garnering several other awards.

“I have scientifically designed four basic sketches that can create hundreds of patterns. ‘Easy to learn’ is my workshop’s motto.” Huseni has inspired and trained young enthusiasts so that they can carry on his mission of keeping Sanjhi alive. As one of the few practitioners of Sanjhi art in the country, Huseni’s ultimate dream is to set up an academy of fine arts in Bangalore.