The Story of Indian Art #18: Wajid Khan

Inventive 37 years-old artist Wajid Khan is the humble holder of a patented form of art called nail art painting and 200 inventions. Let’s get to know him better.

“One of the most decisive moments of my life was the time my mother gave me a sum of Rs 1,300 and challenged me to leave home to pursue my hobby. She was the only person who believed I was meant for something remarkable” ~ Wajid Khan

Artist Wajid Khan

Creative genius Wajid Khan

Paper boats and rainwater are an integral part of most childhoods. But, as a little child, Wajid Khan thought a little bigger and created a small ship that could float on water!

At age 14, he invented the world’s smallest electric iron, which later found mention in the Guinness Book of World Records.

Apart from Guinness, Wajid is featured in the Golden Book of World Records, Limca Book of World Records, India Book of World Records, and Asia Book of World Records. He has also been commissioned to design a unique sculpture for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, to be held in Qatar.

“I want to use my fame to help struggling artists and inventors get recognition across the world. I don’t want to open an NGO. I prefer working quietly to help artists and make them self-dependent,” he says.

Today, this inventive artist is 37-years-old and the humble holder of a patented form of art called nail art painting and 200 inventions. Let’s get to know him better.

The Journey

Wajid Khan was born on 10th March 1981 and raised in a small village called Songiri, about 11 km away from Mandsaur district in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh.

He spent most of his childhood grappling with poor grades at school. But his mind was full of creative ideas that drove him to experiment with creating things with whatever material he could lay his hands on. He stopped going to school by the time he reached grade 5 and left home soon after.

At age 16, Wajid had to find a way to earn a living without the benefit of a formal education to help him and continue to nurture his experiments in the world of art. This was the late 90s, and technical robots caught his fancy. So, with the help of his friends, Wajid started working for the National Institute of Fashion (NIF), Ahmedabad.

His time at NIF drove Wajid to experiment with making portraits using iron nails. In 2004, Wajid moved to Indore to delve deeper into this foray and found his calling. He now works out of Indore and Mumbai.

Mahatma Gandhi Nail Art by Wajid Khan

Mahatma Gandhi Nail Art by Wajid Khan

In 2005, Wajid created an iron nail portrait of Mahatma Gandhi using more than 1 lakh nails. It took three years to make. Despite bids of up to Rs.50 lakhs, Wajid did not sell this piece. It was too close to his heart for him to part with it.

The same year Wajid created what was possibly the world’s first 3D painting, using acrylic colours on canvas.

He has so far made several iron-nail portraits of noted people such as Mother Teresa, Jesus Christ, and Dhirubhai Ambani, to name just three.

Wajid uses a special base (imported sheet) on which he draws a pencil outline just to mark the points of the start and the end of the portrait. “My mind already has the picture and I follow that instinct,” Wajid says.

Other sides of Wajid Khan

This inventive artist hasn’t limited himself to iron nail portraits. He has also created exceptional landscape and portrait art from discarded auto parts, medical equipment and black quarry stones. His portraits have black as a predominant colour since Wajid believes black is the strongest colour.

He created an artifact of a young crying girl using medical equipment as part of the Save the Girl Child campaign. And his bullet art works attract the most attention.

Bullet Art by Wajid Khan

Mahatma Gandhi Bullet Art by Wajid Khan

“A bullet is a sign of violence and Gandhjii taught us non-violence. There could not be a better way to give out a message of non-violence than making his portrait using bullets, to show contradiction,” Wajid says.

He adds, “I know fame and money don’t last. The Holy Quran says: Live for others, not yourself. I am trying to equip the physically disabled and the less privileged people with art. I am fortunate that my wife Maryam is equally art-inclined and both of us conduct workshops in schools in cities like Mumbai and Indore and rural areas to find artists and teach them,”

Wajid, whose art work may feature in an upcoming Hollywood venture, wishes to continue experimenting and teaching art. In 2016, he has plans of delivering a lecture at Oxford University, London.

We invite you to see more of Wajid Khan and his work in much greater detail and depth here.

To read other editions of the series, click here.

Avinash Subramaniam

Avinash has been an advertising writer, fiction writer, poetry writer, freelance writer and serial wronger. Other roles he has been in include those of an editor, brand builder, and teacher. His interests include advertising, scrabble, body building, chess, cinema, making money, reading, internet culture, cricket, photography. To hear him air his thoughts, follow him on Twitter @armchairexpert.

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