Aryana Didam is an inspiration for young women belonging to conservative setups
Born in 1996, Aryana Didam discovered her passion for art at a young age. Having started painting in 2009, last year she made some of her work public.
Didam frequently posts on social media, and many have appreciated her work. She belongs to an educated and progressive family. Her uncle, Barmala Khan Barmol, is a renowned Pashto poet who has authored two volumes of poetry. Her cousin Qasim Khan Mandokhel is a noted journalist with an interest in Pashto literature.
Aryana has spent most of her life studying in Quetta. She has a master’s degree in Pashto and sociology from Balochistan University.
The News on Sunday (TNS): Coming from a conservative society, was it difficult for you to choose art as a medium of expression?
Aryana Didam: I have always believed in the power of art. I remember drawing sketches on my school notebooks. It is impossible to deny the impact art has on a society. I continue to fearlessly contribute what I can.
TNS: How has social media affected your work? Are people appreciating you as an artist?
AD: I am glad to have received positive feedback. I hope that the people will encourage me in the future. I realised within a few months that I had secured a remarkable place in the art world. I am sure my work will not only be admired, but also considered an excellent contribution. Apart from feedback on social media, the BBC Pashto service and the VOA have interviewed me. This has helped introduce my work and views to a larger audience.
TNS: Does art add meaning to human life?
AD: I feel that the world would be quite vapid without artistic productions. I see the world itself as a well-proportioned picture painted by Allah Almighty. Yes, I am sure that human beings cannot understand this without an appreciation of art.
TNS: Who helped you discover your talent?
AD: I am a self-made artist. I never had a teacher and attended no classes; a deep-rooted eagerness to learn to create led to this discovery. I have drawn at least fifty sketches of legendary politicians, poets, singers, actors and writers including Abdul Ghaffar Khan [Bacha Khan], Dr Mohammad Najibullah, Usman Lala, Dr Nakamura, Javed Amirkhel, Khushal Khan Khattak, Mohammad Sadiq Pasarlay, Abdul Bari Jahani and Saud Bangash.
TNS: You have painted sketches of many eminent Pashtun people. Do you plan to extend your work and create portraits of others who have contributed to the society?
AD: Why not? I have the same respect for all well-wishers of humanity. I don’t want to restrict my work to Pashtuns and will try my best to work on all noted personalities without any discrimination. I have already drawn a sketch of Dr Tets Nakamura, who was assassinated in an attack in December 2019 in Jalalabad. He was a Japanese physician and had a long career helping some of Afghanistan’s poorest people on humanitarian grounds.
TNS: As a young artist, you have had the freedom to work. However, there are many social and domestic pressures, including marriage, that block a person’s career. Do you feel any such pressures?
AD: There are always a host of challenges for both men and women. Marriage and domestic affairs can limit a person at times. However, I plan to carry on with my work no matter the circumstances.
TNS: Will you be interested in displaying your work at an exhibition in Quetta or Karachi?
AD: Why not, I will eagerly take part in such an event.
TNS: Music is a source of inspiration for some artists; for others it’s poetry. What inspires you?
AD: Music, poetry, films; I’m interested in all arts. Being an artist, I have great respect for all forms of art. Classical poets like Khushal Khan Khattak, Ghani Khan and Raz Mohammad Raz are my favourites. Qamar Gula, Ahmed Zahir and Ustad Mangal’s music has profoundly impacted me., Manoon Maqsoodi is my favourite actor.
TNS: Georges Braque, an eminent artist, once said, “There is only one valuable thing in art: the thing you cannot explain.“ Do you agree with the statement?
AD: Yes, I entirely agree with this. Braque is spot on. As an artist, I believe in peace, protection of human rights, justice, empowerment of women, humanity and love. As a female artist, I wish to see women enjoy equality in society.
TNS: What is it that you’re trying to convey through your work? Are people able to relate to your vision?
AD: I want to convey the message of peace, love without discrimination and tolerance. I believe that most people will understand and warmly welcome my message.
The interviewer is a lecturer at Boys’ Degree College, Zhob, and a columnist. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org