Legend lost: Political painter AR Nagori passes away

Published: January 15, 2011

War and peace by AR Nagori. PHOTOS: COURTESY AR NAGORI OFFICIAL WEBSITE

KARACHI: Artist, teacher and social activist Abdul Rehman Nagori — better known as AR Nagori — passed away on Friday afternoon due to multiple complications. He was 70.

He was taken to the Aga Khan University Hospital emergency on Wednesday after he complained of chest pains, Naveed Nagori, his son, told The Express Tribune. He was having withdrawal symptoms as he was not responding to the new medicines prescribed and his blood pressure could not be controlled.

AR Nagori was famous for his paintings calling for socio-economic reforms. Throughout the early 1980s – Ziaul Haq’s military regime – he held exhibitions of his work titled “anti-martial law” and “anti-dictatorship”.

His bright-coloured paintings exuded slap-in-the-face defiance, urging the onlooker to think about change – if not bring it about. Most of his work revolved around five major issues: martial law, dictatorship, women suppression, violence and minority rights.

AR Nagori was the founder of the fine arts department at the University of Sindh and Federal College of Arts, Jamshoro.

“He had such a genuine personality. He was a great painter and father,” said his son, Naveed. “This is the loss of a legend.”

Artist Abdul Fatah Daud Poto, his student and friend who has compiled a book Socio Political Painting in Pakistan and Painter of Protest on AR Nagori, said, “In Pakistan’s history, there was no painter like Nagori sahib. He was a committed artist who never painted for money. He always raised a voice against the injustice in the country even though he was jailed, tortured and threatened in the regime of Ayub Khan”.

“Once he was holding his exhibition at the Karachi Airport where Ziaul Haq told him, ‘Nagori, you are a good man but your work is bad as you paint political art’,” narrated Daud Poto.

His funeral prayers will be held at Jamia Binoria today (on Saturday) and the burial will take place at Defence Housing Authority Graveyard.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 15th, 2011.

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