23rd Jan 2005, TIME - 4:30 Am, STATUS: 25 % COMPLETE
There was bluntness in his strokes, confidence in his eyes, his hands were moving passionately on canvas with the sense of satisfaction. He knew, he was finally getting closer to what he has been feverishly seeking for past 3 months. Firad Khan, a well renowned artist, had always perceive world with his own eyes, arrogant in his approach, he had always painted world with his own imagination, which was dark and deep.
But for last 3 months, the most content and complete artist of India was unable to sleep properly, his eyes were deprived of any rest and mind was lost in its own absurdity. This wasn’t the first time he was seeking answers in his art, the artist had always pushed himself to go beyond perfection, but this test was different. He was attempting something he had never attempted before, something he thought he would never attempt. But he had to…
FLASHBACK ---- 3 Months Ago….
Location: Sri Fort Auditorium (Delhi) …. Occasion: Firad Khan’s Art exhibition on Nature… Ticket Price: Rs 250 per/person
Art enthusiastic were present from all over the country to admire the latest offering from the Artist, who had always captured the nature in its purest form, Silent and Strong. There was an excitement in the auditorium, fans were admiring and interpreting the unspoken words of artist’s heart which lighted up the soulless canvases beautifully, giving them the meaning which was larger than life. The huge gathering of people in the hall was lost in the world which was painted by a proud and arrogant artist, who was silently gazing at the reactions of people with sense of pride and smile of pity. Excitement, comfort, amazement, delight, perception which people were getting from his work was unsettling the great man. His art was not supposed to give people any comfort, enjoyment or joy, rather it was meant to shock them. He wanted them to get nervous, uneasy and upset, this is what he had always pride himself with, putting up images that were not only controversial but also daring. The birds falling from the red sky with their wings on fire, was drawn to instill the uneasiness in the hearts of spectators, and not to be appreciated for its color patterns. The angels driven on the chariot by Satan was portrayed to arrest the mind in the depth of its own maze, but it was being perceived as an imagination of an artist who was trying to unlock the mystery of his heart in an abstract way.
He was listening to every word of awe which was being whispered but reacted in an undisturbed manner, hiding his disgust, signifying that he was above all the reactions and criticism which normal people had to offer. He knew, he was not getting the reactions he wanted and was searching hard where the gap was left, the answer to his discomfort was teasing and evading him, till the time he met, that man in dark shades.
24th Jan 2005, TIME-4:30 AM, STATUS: 75 % COMPLETE
He had been painting for 24 hours straight, without any break. His intensity was frightening and focus was undisturbed, he knew what he wanted and had been struggling, fighting, cribbing, crying to get it. Over a span of 25 years, the artist arrogantly spoke his words through the medium of his work. He had always believed, though in nature everything seems calm and perfect but in reality everything was violently distorted. He was a controversial artist but criticism never kept him away from his world. A world, where leaves were red and sky was velvet. He painted an apple in shape of poisonous Eve and let Adam alone to cry in disbelief. He had done everything and enjoyed a well deserved fame; still he was hungry and felt incomplete.
But this day was different, this moment was different, this feeling was different finally he was there, colors were showing there impact, the smile which once lost was slowly coming back. Challenge from the man in dark shades was about to complete and warrior was about to conquer his final battlefield.
THAT MAN IN DARK SHADES
He was a tall; medium built, in his mid-30’s dressed completely in black, wearing dark shades. In the beginning he ignored him but later got nervous when he realized that the man with dark shades was not interested in his paintings, for past 2 hours he was consistently looking at him, he tried to escape his shades but failed. People who loved his work, had always stalked him and followed him for hours, but there was some awkwardness about this man's stare. He tried to maintain a good distance from his glances which were coming from behind the chambers which were perfectly covered in dark. He quietly moved to the left corner of the auditorium, evading all the razzmatazz of the surroundings, all alone in aloof comfort, desperately escaping the shadow of mysterious reflection. He stood there silently, without making any movement, he knew, he was being watched still he wanted to fool himself with an illusion of aloofness.
He nervously glanced from the core of his eye, and found his nemesis walking towards him. He wasn’t a convict but still felt guilty. He knew and was aware that he cannot avoid him any further, so he decided to go and confront his fear. He walked to him nervously. The greatest artist in the town admired and chased, was helplessly drawn towards a man he had never seen before. He was tense and looked directly into the eyes of a stranger which were hidden behind dark shades.
Artist: May I help you? (A question which sounded more of a plea)
Man in Dark Shades: You have almost covered everything in Nature, a part from one thing. (He said it straight without exchanging any pleasantries in a stern voice).
Artist: (Little Baffled): What are you referring to?
Man in Dark Shades: Have you ever painted death?
Artist: (Shocked and Surprised): Death??
Man in Dark Shades: Yes Death, the kingdom of solitude, where there are no attires, tags, labels or positions. Where everyone is equal and no distinction is made on any basis. There are no truths as there are no lies. A place where everything is ‘All’ and ‘All’ is nothing. Nothing is gained and nothing is lost. There are no dreams for reality and no reality is lived in dreams.
He said all that in a poetic uninterrupted motion, without any expressions and stood there silently, looking at the clueless face of an artist, who was lost for words.
Farid knew something silently had hit his world, the wounds were unseen but the pain was real. He wanted to respond, but didn’t know how to. So he stood there silently, without any motion. That man with dark shades left the place with a smile, he purpose was over, and message was conveyed.
Who was he? Why he asked this question? What was he trying to convey? Whether he was real or just an imagination of an upset mind? Nothing was answered. But the impact was made and it was felt when Firad turned around to see the walls on which his work was talked and admired. All of a sudden, he found that the colors were missing, the paintings were lacking aesthetic sense, meaning of the work was not very clear. The pride of a performer was lying on the ground of low spirit brutally demolished by the hands of a desperate ego.
24th Jan 2005, TIME- 9 AM, STATUS: 100 % COMPLETE
Final touch was being applied, the words echoed in the auditorium, pierced clearly into the psyche of an artist, who had abandoned the light of day for last three months, like a monk he devoted himself to a pattern he had never experienced before. It was more than a challenge, not because of its subject, but because of the tone in which it was conveyed, all the hardship faced up till now, were to be rewarded, masterpiece was ready, death was conquered and self respect was restored.
On a large white piece of paper was stroked in dark colors a cold, quite, peaceful, silent, unobservant, unperceivable, undisturbed body of a man and on the floor in front of the canvas was laying its inspired source. Dead and Fade, it was the body of a man who was murdered, a man who was wearing dark shades.