ISLAMABAD: There is little in common between pharmacy and sculpturing. Both consume the human like an ocean to sinking object. Rashid Zahoor, a practicing pharmacist, is an exception. He looks at trees as objects living and breathing. The middle-aged craftsman, if one make call him so, can her the whispers of a dying trees and read the will of a log slashed mercilessly by some greedy soul.Fond of black sires, sheesham and other commonly abundant wood, Rashid Zahoor has to engage in a surrealistic bond to discover the ‘personality’ of each piece. His made-in-wood sculptures have impressed more art-lovers than hyper-enthusiastic collectors. “Price tag for my piece of art is surrender to nature and feeling the soul of its most vibrant element, trees!” Rashid has not slowed down his artistic self-exploration. “I can’t hold myself back just due to the mere fact that the space is running out now,” he explains.
Poet and literacy critic since his B Pharmacy days at the BZU Multan, this exceedingly introvert genius admits, “The sculptures happen without my readiness and intention to do them.” He draws inspiration from nature and the spiritual urge to be surrounded by her in the concrete jungles “humans have discovered infatuation of”. The five-day-a-week medical practitioner feels the hollowness of human spirit while treating patients at any given time. “Just like the Sun and the Moon are indispensable or irreplaceable, the artificial wood furniture and mass produced futuristic designs can’t divorce rustic wood art from our visual appetite,” observes Rashid.
“No matter how lit your room is, you love to open the window for natural sunlight in the day and sparkling stars at the night,” he explains in a voice deeply immersed in rationality of his creation. That’s all not so philosophical for a busy Homo sapiens or wise man (if translated literally). His artistic creations, which he himself prefers to call sculptures, include coffee tables, side tables, television stand, bookshelves and much more.
His shy demeanor holds him back about talking in detail of his creations. The proud keepers of his unique artwork have happily afforded Rashid’s sculptures at a value the likes of IKEA or other mass producing furniture makers can’t dare to ask for. The artisan won’t break his moratorium of silence on the subject. Based in Dunyapur Tehsil of Punjab’s Lodhran District, Rashid neither maintains a website not an active twitter handle or Pintrest account.
“It’s basically the word of mouth that has spread the word about my humble work nationally as well as outside Pakistan,” he explains. Though his exhibition in Multan failed to attract the real art-lovers in good numbers, but plenty of rich landlords and industrialists want to adorn their villas with the sculptures they did not have an iota of. Rashid, reluctantly, answered the basic question. In reality, it all started to come out of his sub conscious when he wished to make a couple of tablets for his self-designed house in Multan. “I have been sleeping with imaginary experiences with the wood; they started to compel me to become real one after the other.”
This self-discovering soul shuttles between the northern highlands of Pakistan to dry hot regions of the country in search of the right wood, which is “alive and compatible with him”. He often fails to find the black sires, sheesham or other wood pieces with the pre-requisite personality. Then he goes out looking for it. Sometimes he is lucky to discover some logs in the debris of old demolished houses. “I have made many friends who are timber merchants but scavenge the timber from remote jungles,” Rashid says with a content face. For such restless but introvert spirits, the journey to self-discovery can happen in many varied mediums; poetry, prose and woodcraft may be just some of the stages.
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