Calligraphy: Re-emerging artistry!
Calligrapher Harish Chandra Bhola is a well-known stylised writing artist. He has over four decades of experience in fine art, designing posters, conducting stylised writing classes and completing assignments for the Government of India viz. Ministry of External Affairs, Ministry of Social Justice, Ministry of Women and Child, Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation, Indira Gandhi International Airport, Jawaharlal Nehru University, Indian Dairy Association, National Museum, New Delhi, National Bee Board and to name a few.
The list of corporate clients comprises 'Porsche', 'Louis Vuitton', 'Vodafone India', 'Jindal Steel Ltd', 'Jai Prakash Industries Ltd', 'IBN 7', 'Nestle India Ltd', 'Ernst and Young' and 'Castrol India' and his myriad translations in Devanagri script for many books and certifications, including the 'Agha Khan Trust'.
Millennium Post's Ravi V. Chhabra met up with the calligrapher and explored various aspects of his artistic feats.
Your first brush with writing as an art form?
Since my childhood, I was inclined to write beautifully. The letter forms always amazed me. They attracted me so much that I used to spend hours writing! Thus, writing became my favourite pastime. I am glad my passion had become my profession.
As your father was in the army, why this choice by you to make designing and creative work turned a profession at such an early age and were your parents supportive?
My father was in the army and always supported me. He was the one who encouraged me to write well. He used to sit beside me and guided me, pointing out my mistakes and also appreciated my good work.
Your description of calligraphy: art or science?
I would say it is an 'experimental art' through which the artist expresses his or her emotions.
You have done numerous ranges in art, especially in calligraphy. Spanning over 40 years, could you mention the most challenging and sublime assignments to date?
The one project that is close to my heart is 'Namami Gange' and it was displayed in the National Museum, New Delhi.
Is calligraphy well-paying monetarily?
It depends on the quality of work, nature of the project and the client's requirements. If we have a good clientele, then calligraphy is highly rewarding. It fetches you money, love, respect and recognition.
What kind of work have you done for the Agha Khan Trust?
The Agha Khan Trust published a book on Abdur Rahim Khan-e-Khana, the great Mughal poet. I did the calligraphy for that book. It is one of the most cherished works I have done so far.
Is calligraphy a dying art?
Most certainly not. I'd say it's an 'emerging art'. People are now realising its importance and beauty. There are numerous forms that exist today. From ancient to modern and experimental to abstract, we can see a variety of works as some look traditional and contemporary. Calligraphers are working on various scripts and offering a bouquet of styles.
Did you have any mentor(s) or someone who greatly inspired you?
I came across a student of JNU, Jatinder Nath, who introduced me to the beautiful world of letters. Thereafter, I met master calligrapher Dave Wood from Australia who taught me and shaped me into a versatile calligrapher.
What are the tools in calligraphy and are they available in India or did you have to source them from abroad?
There are endless options available. Tools depend on the script we are going to write in. We can write with anything from an expensive pen to a humble bamboo stick! Earlier, getting exclusive calligraphy material was difficult, so we had to source it from abroad but now we have ample options here in India.
You have sometimes used cardboard instead of paper as a base to work on calligraphy. Why so?
Calligraphy is all about exploring. We can write on any surface, be it paper, canvas, cardboard or wood. Traditionally, it was done on the bark of a tree.
Which country has the best calligraphers?
To name any one country would be unfair. Every country has its own legacy and heritage. Calligraphy is an ancient art. Almost every country has beautiful handwritten manuscripts from the past. Calligraphy is now a blooming art form across the globe and we have some eminent calligraphers from almost every corner of the world.