Jamil Naqsh, one of Pakistan’s renowned artists, displays his work after a span of almost 20 years in the city where it all began for him — Lahore. Born in Kairana, Uttar Pradesh (UP), the artist migrated to Karachi during partition and then started his career in Lahore; but now resides in London as a recluse.
For the past several years, Naqsh has worked on various artistic themes such as love, lust and forbidden desire.
Noshi Qadir of Tanzara Art Gallery in Islamabad understands the importance of stimulating one’s brain by exposing it to quality art. She has earned a reputation of being a professional art dealer and it was no surprise when one saw her bringing Naqsh back to his hometown.
His show entitled ‘The Bird of Time’ is not a full retrospective, but it takes up on most major themes from Naqsh’s career. The collection not only reflects the culture of Pakistan, but also that of the subcontinent and bears a strong resonance of the Mughal regime. Along with this, the exhibition demonstrates how an artist of immense talent coming from a Pakistani background has been able to enter into a fruitful relationship with western modernism.
“Jamil Naqsh is an artist of eminent stature who needs no introduction and He holds a key position in the rapidly changing art scene in Pakistan and abroad,” says Qadir. “In keeping with its tradition of offering quality art to its patrons, Tanzara has brought this prestigious exhibition to give the art lovers of Lahore an opportunity to view the magic of Mr Naqsh’s masterpieces.”
Glimpse of the past
Having grown up seeing pigeons flutter around in his courtyard, Naqsh has made sure his work heavily includes the significance of birds. “Naqsh’s drawings of pigeons, horses and coupling figures carry us to life in our medieval small towns of UP where these birds were once the carriers of messages long before Picasso made them the global carriers of the call for peace after World War II,” says Suneet Chopra, an art critic and writer in New Delhi.
The collection includes 23 canvases and 16 graphite drawings. Naqsh has always considered his drawings as paintings. “My pencil drawings are a complete painting,” says Naqsh, “There is line, form and shade of light minus colour. Colour does not convey anything for me,” the artist added.
Meanwhile, upon talking to the artist’s daughter-in-law and the curator of the Naqsh Museum in Karachi, Sobia Naqsh, The Express Tribune gets a better insight to the collection presented. “This show is very important to all of us because my father-in-law started his career in Lahore and each canvas reiterates some part of his story,” states Sobia. “The softness found in his work is remarkable and every symbol on every canvas has a very personal story behind it that even if I start talking about right now it will take me a lifetime to explain. His gentle nature and loving characteristics all shine through his work.”
The romanticism and nostalgia can be felt in his collection as he symbolises his past with a series of newspaper clippings that he incorporates on the canvas.
This two-day show was exceptionally monumental for Lahore’s art lovers and collectors.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 15th, 2012.