Sajad H. Hamdani

National Committee: 
Position: 
Co-President

Scholastic Record:

Certificate course in Creative English Writing from British Council, Bangkok Thailand; 2005

Master of Fine Arts (Sculpture) from Visva-Bharati University, Santiniketan, W.B. India; 2001-2003

Bachelor of Fine Arts (Sculpture), from University of Kashmir, Srinagar, J&K, India; 1993-2000

Work Experiences:

Presently working as a Media Advisor Center For Buddhist Studies Visva Bharti University Santiniketan, India.

Worked as a Media Advisor Jammu and Kashmir Academy of Art, Culture and Languages.

Taught as a lecturer (Sculpture) at Institute of Music and Fine Arts(Govt Art College), Srinagar, J&K Sept 2006-May 2008

Taught Art and English at Roong-Aroon School, Bangkok, Thailand; from January 2004-2005

Taught Art in Delhi Public School, Jammu; January-June 2000

Served as the president of Contemporary Art Foundation 'artistscommune'(first contemporary artists group in Kashmir); 1994-2000

Taught Art (part-time) in Linton Hall school, Srinagar; 1996-97

International Shows:

'Sinking Silhouettes' a solo show of self as metaphor, New works of Sajad H Hamdani, Passport Bookshop, Pra-Athit Road, Bangkok, Thailand; September 2005

'Art and Living Heritage' a group exhibition of paintings at Ban Chao-praya, Pra-Athit Road, Bangkok, Thailand; 2003

Roong-Aroon annual art show in the Department of Silpa campus of Roong-Aroon School, Bangkok, Thailand

National Shows:

Participated in a group show organizwd bt STUDIO-21 kolkata in 2010.

Participated in a Group show organized by SPAN Santiniketan Practicing Artists Network 2010-2011 at Nandan Sadan Art Gallery Santiniketan.

Participated in a group show "Art Against Terrorism" curated

by Akriti Art Gallery Kollkata April 2009.

Participated in a group show "MIND OF MATTER MATTER OF MIND" curated by Janak Jhankar Narzary at Samokal Art Gallery Kolkatta March 2009.

"ARTERROR" a contemporary happening in art by Korean and Indian artists at Birla Academy of Art and Culture, Kolkata, India 2003.

Selected for National exhibition 2002 by Lalit Kala Academy

New Delhi, India.

Participated in a group show 'Young Faces of Contemporary Indian Sculptures' organized by Birla Academy of Art, Kolkata; 2001

Double Man Show 'You Me and Time', an exhibition of paintings organized by Contemporary Art Foundation at College of Education, Srinagar, J&K; 1998

One Man Show of Terracotta sculptures and drawings organized by Institute of Music and Fine Arts, Srinagar; 1997

Participated in an exhibition '50 Years of Art in Independent India', organized by All India Fine Arts and Crafts Society (AIFACS) and J&K Academy of Art Culture and Languages; 1997

Participated in annual art exhibitions organized by J&K Academy of Art Culture and Languages; 1995-1999

Participated in annual group shows organized by Contemporary Art Foundation, Srinagar; 1995-1999

Awards and Scholarships:

Lalit Kala scholarship 2003-2004 by Lalit Kala Academy New Delhi

Merit Scholarship for the years 2001-2003 from Visva-Bharati University Santiniketan, WB

Merit Scholarship for the years 1999-2000 from Institute of Music and Fine Arts, Srinagar

Gold Medal (Sculpture) at National Youth Festival held at Punjabi University Chandigarh; 1997-1998

Workshops and Camps:

Participated in a seven day workshop organized by ACUA Curating Indian Visual Culture: Theory and Practice (with thematic focus on Art in the Context of Conflicts) as a resourse person in FEB 2012.

Participated in a ten day workshop organized by Design Department of Indian Institute Of Technology IIT Kanpur August 2008.

Conducted a ten day workshop on clay animation at Kala Bhavana with students of Department Of Sculpture Visva-Bharti University Santiniketan March 2008

Participated in a seven day National workshop of Installation Art "Visual arts and freedom of expression" organized by students of Kala Bhavan, Visva-Bharti University, Santiniketan; March 2008

Participated in a seminar on "Religion and the Visual Arts: Representations' and Contestations" organized by students of Kala Bhavan, and the Department of History of Art, Visva Bharati University, Santiniketan; March 2008

Participated in KHOJ Kolkata 2006 International Artists Workshop, Kolkata, India; October 2006

Conducted a workshop on Evolving Sculptures at Roong-Aroon School, Bangkok, Thailand; 2004

Participated in a workshop on outdoor installation conducted by Professor Daniel Auliniger of Ecole De Beaux Arts at Santiniketan, WB; 2002

Participated in an artist camp organized by Divisional Commissioner Srinagar and Institute of Music and Fine Arts at Sonamarg, J&K; 1997

Publication:

'Forbidden Paradise My Homeland' a collection of poems, 2005

Various articles and essays of art in a daily local newspaper "Greater Kashmir"

Films:

Snow Sculpture Festival (Documentary)

Sufiyana Mousuqi (Sufi Music of Kashmir Documentary)

Bangkok Blues (Fiction)

Folk Instruments of Kashmir (Documentary)

Collections:

India, France, Ireland and Thailand

Sajad Hamdani is an artist born and brought up in Srinagar, Kashmir. He takes his inspiration from the gigantic maple trees and freshwater lakes that were the play grounds of his childhood. The violence that these childhood playgrounds have been rife with also appears in his works. For Sajad Art is the process. And he says, "The process is a never ending creation and can be pursued to be as large as one can imagine the idea is between the relations of one object to another."

Sajad's artistic journey began when he quit school in 1987 at the age of 16. After quitting school, Sajad took up many odd jobs, amongst which were stints as an apprentice with a carpenter and a commercial artist. A few years later, in 1989 life changed drastically for Sajad as it did for all Kashmiris due to political turmoil in the Valley. He suddenly found himself indoors all the time. His exploration began; he educated himself through reading books, looking at paintings.

"I remember our teacher in the seventh grade use to take us to the small garden in front of our school and we had to study the flowers and leafs by observing and drawing it was somewhere there I learned," says Sajad. He was already painting oils when his friends introduced to him the idea of joining the Institute of Music and Fine Arts. The surprised Principal asked him to join immediately when he saw the pile of sketchbooks Sajad had brought with him to the interview. Due to the political situation in Kashmir, it took him seven years to complete the BFA.

A self taught painter Sajad created a large body of work even before he joined the BFA course. He often supported his studies by selling his paintings. Sajad still paints and often prefers to sell paintings rather than his sculpture.

As a BFA student, Sajad began to understand the political underpinnings of the functioning of the Institute as well as the work that was produced there, or not produced there. "I used to think that the teachers are to be blamed for this deteriorated state of the institute but they were not the real culprits they were the victims of the system which is very corrupted, uneducated and unethical in terms of arts and its understanding and the role it plays in the society," says Sajad.

With this political consciousness, Sajad founded Contemporary Arts Foundation: 'artistscommune' in 1994. The group consisted of artists from Kashmir and it contributed in developing arts activities among youth of the valley. The foundation was disbanded in 2001 due to the lack of funds and general apathy towards arts by the local administration. Throughout the seven years of its existence the group served as a platform for young artists to exhibit and explore different aspects of contemporary arts.

It was as a student of BFA that he came across the works of medieval artist Hieronymus Bosch. Looking at Bosch's works changed the way he looked at art. It was no more just flowers and pretty things. In some way Bosch's work also resonated with the tumult that Kashmir was experiencing, and which was now his everyday reality. Sajad now dug deeper and read voraciously, learning more by himself than was taught in the classroom.

On graduation Sajad worked as an art teacher for six months in Delhi Public School, Jammu and then went on to pursue an MFA at Visva-Bharati University. The first student from Kashmir to apply to Sculpture Dep't Kala Bhavana since it was established; he gained admission on merit and joined MFA in sculpture. He was awarded merit scholarships for both his years and passed out with a first class first.

The two years at Santiniketan shaped Sajad's artistic journey anew and were the best productive years of his creative endeavours. Santiniketan brought him the realisation that it is not only the techniques, skills or intellectual pursuits that bring the artist closer to beauty and truth but a right atmosphere is also essential.

During the two years in Santiniketan Sajad worked with many ideas which were in close proximity with nature, with the landscape. The tropical environment was abundant with trees, weeds and grass; widely used by the local tribal people in their day to day life. With the availability of these materials different ideas sprung and were executed in to full scale sculptures.

About creating outdoor sculptures and taking from nature Sajad says, "When I was a child we used to go out in autumn to a nearby field which was huge and empty except surrounded by tall Maple trees and the grounds used to be filled with heaps of leaves. We would collect these leaves and create huge heaps of them, and hide ourselves underneath and imagine as if we were dead and lying in our graves. Now when I realize that we were creating outdoor sculptures in a very naive way."

Sajad's use of materials underwent a transformation. Observing people's way of life became a part of his creative process, which led to intriguing ways of seeing commonly used materials by local people. For example his installation 'Mandala' was created from the small polythene bags usually used for sweet takeaways. The 'Gateway of Life' used straw and bamboo, materials which are a part and parcel of everyday life at Santiniketan. Often his assemblages and sculptures were constructed out of found objects or to be precise the throw away. The creative process had become a way of seeing and constructing rather than sculpting wood, stone or bronze with the given concepts.

In Santiniketan, Sajad engaged more with outdoor sculptures than before. Perhaps this was due to the atmosphere and the spirit of living and learning within nature that is still very much alive in Rabindranath Tagore's Santiniketan. His outdoor works were the works in relations with space and the surroundings. For example, the work 'Mandala' was created with the cement benches under a tree as its frame and as its parts. In other words, the work is a part of the surroundings and vice versa.

Although he started working with installations quite early when he was engaged with Contemporary Arts Foundation the first such work which can be labelled as an installation was "Art absurd", a work combining different materials, but it rather objective in its appearance. Since then Sajad has been experimenting with various mediums and materials the best of these experiments were done while at Santiniketan.

After completing his Masters he could not return to Kashmir with its hostile situation. He stayed on at Santiniketan for more six months but couldn't continue working further due to financial reasons. An offer of a job in an alternative school in Bangkok, Thailand, where he taught arts for one and a half year took him on a different path.

After teaching in Bangkok he finally returned to the Valley where he taught for one year as an instructor at the Institute of Music and Fine Arts and then was transferred to work as media advisor at the Academy of Arts, Culture and Languages for one more year.

My ideas and concepts about art are quite simple. I believe in the process of creation not in the objects I create. Firstly, because the objects have their own history, space and time which is quite different from mine and secondly I am in a position to alter some of the elements in them. On the other hand the process is a strange coincidence which occurs between the artist and the object. In order to create the process a dialogue with the object becomes necessary, which is not possible if we have assumptions or beliefs. Therefore, suspension of all the assumptions becomes an essential element in the process of creation.

During the nine years of art study I worked in all traditional materials and also explored the possibility of new and rather unconventional ones, for example water and plastic bags.

As I have already explained objects are not mere things or pieces for me, which are in need of manipulation by me as a so-called artist, but I respect their material manifestation. This respect may be seen irrational in the present context of rapid mass production and consumerism but this is the ideal which I have acquired each time I confront a piece of wood or stone.

Let's see it this way, a tree which spent thirty or forty years in a forest is cut and goes through the process of weathering and other such. When it reaches to table it transforms into a piece of flesh I am not capable of destroying just for my self-gratification or glorification. It becomes necessary to have a dialogue, which eventually is a process.

Most of my works have a strong relation with the places where they were created because for the materials chosen for my works I often prefer to gather from the surroundings were they are being created in or are to be installed. There was a time when I liked to work with power tools but now I prefer more traditional ways, only in extreme need do I opt for a tool.

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