This art ruled by curves  

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Onaiza Azeem

A quick glance through Onaiza Azeem Walajahi’s Instagram handle assorted palette reveals a beautiful mélange of Arabic calligraphy forever encased in frames. Onaiza’s story about how she got attracted is an interesting one.

Trained as an architect at Jawaharlal Nehru Architecture and Fine Arts University, Onaiza left a comfy job when life’s other priorities took centrestage and following a break, chose to explore the beautiful imagery of Arabic calligraphy rather than pore over design maps.

It may look easy, says the artist, but it’s not. “You need a lot of patience and perseverance when doing this sort of calligraphy. The thickness of the text and how you hold the qalam is where the skill lies. I like to change the mediums and ink I use, so that’s liked by people a lot,” says Onaiza who became a full-time artist recently.

Learning to write Arabic takes serious skill and Onaiza is no stranger to that. It took her many tries and extensive study of Islamic books and Turkish calligraphers before she deemed herself ready to take on orders.

This art ruled by curves   

The 26-year-old is adept at writing duas from the Quran, birthday messages and her most popular works feature names of bride and grooms, the date of their wedding with a phrase from the Holy book mentioning marriage.

“Handling a qalam made from bamboo is cumbersome and your hand can start to shake holding it for so long. Names take me an hour or so to write while phrases obviously take longer. Figuring out the colour combinations is also time-consuming. I like to practise on a different sheet of paper before working on the actual design so that I know the size and proportion. Usually, the rule is to write it directly in Arabic,” explains Onaiza.

The ink and paper used by her also vary based on a client’s requirements. The A4 frame starts from Rs 900 going upwards with size, although her mini frames are priced much lower. Apart from Arabic calligraphy, she is also a dab hand at watercolour, acrylic, pour and resin art and liberally shares tips with interested people who want to learn painting.

“Most people come to know about me through word-of-mouth whether it’s for the calligraphy or learning painting. I conduct the workshops at my studio in Malakpet,” adds Onaiza.


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