US Ambassador Cameron Munter hailed painter Iqbal Hussain’s life story as a “message of liberation” at the launch of the controversial artist’s biography, The Painter of Imprisoned Souls, on Tuesday.
Speaking at an informal gathering at Cocoo’s Den, Munter said the painter’s works displayed a great sense of solidarity with people who are less fortunate.
“His work is reflective of his universal openness to beauty,” he said.
Dr Marilyn Wyatt, the ambassador’s wife, also praised Hussain’s work and said it had received widespread recognition. The biography of Hussain, who is famous for his depictions of women in Heera Mandi, the city’s red light area, was authored by Marjorie Hussain.
In a welcome address at the launch ceremony, former National College of Arts principal Fauzia Qureshi said she had known the artist since the 1980s and was honoured to be part of the book launch. Hussain is an NCA alum.
New US Consul General Nina Marie Fite and Public Affairs Officer Jennifer Larson also attended the ceremony.
Hussain said his work had always revolved around the lives of the women of Heera Mandi.
He said he would continue to support the community of Shahi Mohalla, another name for the area.
Talking to The Express Tribune, the artist said the proceeds from the sales of his biography would be used for the welfare of the singing and dancing girls of Heera Mandi. The book, on sale exclusively at the launch, costs Rs3,500 and has been issued in a limited edition.
Mariam Iqbal Hussain, the artist’s daughter, said that it was a moment of great pride to see her father and his works being honoured. A student of interior design, she said she was inspired by her father’s art.
Shehla Saigol, the owner of the Lahore Art Gallery who was described by Hussain as a “staunch supporter” of his work, said that Hussain’s paintings, by communicating the unique world that exists in Heera Mandi, had helped make the area less of a taboo subject.
“With the support of people like Khalid Hassan, Zulqarnain Haider and Ijazul Hasan, Hussain has been grroomed and been able to progress in his art,” she said.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 5th, 2011.
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