By Mudassir Raja
Anwar Nafees Khan, an Indian expatriate in Qatar, is a multi-talented personality who recently got back to using his nails for drawings. He said he was inspired to get back to his art after he saw the appreciation and the love that artists receive in Qatar.
THE ARTIST: Anwar Nafees Khan.
Forty-eight-year-old Khan has a Master’s degree in Fine Arts from Aligarh Muslim University in India and has worked in TV plays and feature films. He has also earned recognition for his mime art and the talent of producing different facial expressions. He has received due appreciation and awards in India.
He, however, thinks that his nail drawings on blank white paper are unique and special. He has already made nail drawings of significant personalities in India, has written Qur’anic verses with his nails and has captured well-known sights in India with his unique drawing tools.
Anwar has been living in Qatar since 2014, working as an assistant manager for operations with a private company. While living in Qatar, he has prepared portraits of His Highness the Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, His Highness the Father Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, and Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, the mother of His Highness the Emir of Qatar.
Community got a chance to sit with Anwar and interview him about his work.
How would you like to introduce yourself?
I hail from Uttar Pradesh in India. I got my university degree in Fine Arts. Later I also got a diploma in applied arts. I am married and have twin daughters who are now in high school. In India after my education, I started my career as a performing and nail drawing artist. I acted in many dramas and held many exhibitions. In 2007, I moved to Dubai where I worked with a company in Media City.
I started my PhD on the works of M F Hussain, one of the most celebrated artists of India. I however could not complete my research work, even though I studied Hussain and his works for three years.
How did you learn nail drawing?
I did not study nail drawing as a subject at the university. I learnt the art from one of my teachers, Masroor Mian Qadri. He was a great inspiration for me. He was a really gifted nail drawing artist. I had talent and after his death I further improved my work and established my own independent identity.
How would you define the art of nail drawing?
It is a unique art. If you try to find about nail drawing artists on the Internet, you will find little information. The art is very rare. Very few people learn or master it and even fewer practise it.
For this drawing, you need nothing but a good quality white paper. Using my nail, I embossed words or faces on the paper. Nail drawing artists will usually make small things like some natural objects. My innovation is to make portraits using nail drawing.
Why did you stop your creative work?
I stopped my creative work after I left India as I got busy with my job and had no inspiration to do creative work. I made or created nothing significant when I was in Dubai. Then I came to Qatar.
A creative artist always needs to have inspiration to create new things. The inspiration can come from anything small or big. Lacking inspiration, I could not create new drawings.
What inspired you in Qatar?
The love, the appreciation, and the recognition artists and their artworks have been receiving in Qatar have inspired me. The admiration of artists here has spurred me into action again.
In the backdrop of the blockade of Qatar, a young Qatari artist prepared a sketch of His Highness the Emir. The picture has become a huge success. The creativity of the picture is appreciated everywhere. The picture is seen everywhere in Qatar. It has become a symbol of nationalism in Qatar. All revolutions and campaigns become stronger if artists from the society are deeply involved.
Support and appreciations for artists by Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser has also been wonderful for a long time. Her interest has promoted art and creativity in Qatar. I also love Qatar for offering citizenship to M F Hussain, my inspiration, when he faced difficult times in India.
I have so far prepared nail drawings of His Highness the Emir, His Highness the Father Emir and Her Highness Sheikha Moza. My drawings are different as the portraits are carved on a white paper with my nails.
What are you future plans regarding your creative art?
I am busy preparing portrait of the Turkish president. I will also prepare portraits of famous Indian personalities and artworks. I want to have an exhibition of my work in Qatar. I will be very happy if I get an opportunity to teach and spread my nail drawing art in Qatar.
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