Veer Munshi is a visual artist in exile from Kashmir valley who lives in New Delhi. He is one of the few painters in India who is able to express his anguish about his homeland through the paintbrush. At the just running Worls Social Forumin Karachi he has done a series of paintings as a reaction to human rights violations, and the turmoil that is borne of separation from his heritage.
Veer Munshi – Indian Kashmir
He talks to TerraViva, the website of the WSF 2006 in Karachi:
Q: How have the past 16 years of conflict affected the artist fraternity in Kashmir? – A: The cultural space is increasingly getting narrow and we are desperately trying to decrease that by trying to keep the cultural fibre intact.
Q: What role can the artists play in resolving the Kashmir issue? – A: A very important one that has so far been undermined. I am mot a politician and don’t know how the confidence-building process is being carried out. All I know is that artists know no boundaries and if we are made part of the peace process, much headway can be made. The pain we feel gets translated in our work and thus attention is drawn to the turmoil. (Read the rest of this interview here).
Excerpt: … Ever since the Kashmiri Hindu and secular minded people were displaced from the valley, they have been struggling hard to survive with dignity in extreme conditions. They are at their pains to preserve their ethno-cultural heritage, identity and secular ideals.Their painful and gruelling experience has in turn generated a hope that their struggle for survival would eventually yield the desired results. Among the several who are in this struggle for survival, Veer Munshi is the name of a painter in exile from Kashmir valley who puts his pain to canvas.
An artist like Veer Munshi is one of the few painters in India who is able to well transform his experiences in Kashmir into the language of painting. In his paintings, one can easily find out the artist’s expression of human rights violations in Kashmir. If anyone ever believed that the importance of a painting lay in its viewing pleasure, Veer Munshi has proved them wrong. His work is a reaction to a deeply felt and experienced political situation i.e. being a “refugee” (displaced person) from Kashmir and is a real depiction of the private and collective anguish borne of separation from his home and Kashmiri heritage and life style. In fact his paintings are a frightening record of the beasts men have reduced themselves to and certainly his work is not a domestic matter because the connections are with our own fate.
Veer Munshi is not only a painter in exile from the valley of Kashmir, but the trials and tribulations of his struggle for survival have themselves served as an artist’s testimony in time. Veer’s large canvasses tug at the heart with the soulsearing acts of his imagination telescoping the images of agony, the mortifying travail and chaos into rhythms of life that were traditionally known for amity and harmony, softness, peace and unity. These life rhythms had evolved from nature’s own singular moves in the valley. These exertions of nature have left their own imprint on human forms of expression all along from spirituality to philosophy that emanated in the valley since earliest times reconciling Shaivism and Buddhism and later on, in their renewed images, Hinduism and Islam with their distinctive flavours of Kashmir Shaivism and Kashmiri Rishism, both deriving strengths from Kashmir’s own experience of life … (read the whole aticle on Kashmir News Network).
Excerpt … Veer’s canvases present images which are intriguing. They cross average notions of reality and pass into a surreal realm. Veer Munshi has not only painted his own experiences of Islamic fundanlentalist and terrorist forces in Kashmir, but has done a yeoman service to depict the overall human rights situation in Kashmir through his paintings. (Read more on Kashmir Herald).
Excerpt … Munshi’s interpretation of the characteristics of a sign is often a strong commentary on the human journey. Let’s go over some of the interpretations of the signs and traits of those born under it to see the interesting mind game that the artist plays.
(Read more on Sunday Herald).
Excerpt … Talking to Excelsior, Veer Munshi, said that to make the performance space come alive, I have decided to place large sculptures of deities as central to the performance. “The large sculptures of deities are inspired by the venerable shrine of Cherena Devta in Reasi area”, said Veer Munshi. (Read more on Daily Excelsior).