Artist Imran Khan is a master craftsman and innovator who aspires to portray the legends of Pakistan on his canvas. His studio is humble and intimate, filled with his painting masterpieces and pottery work.
Elaborating on his work, Khan says that through his pottery he has aimed to keep the Gandhara civilisation art alive, while his paintings reflect his love for his country.
“I have always been fascinated by the earliest artists of Pakistan; Gandhara artists had the aesthetic sense to adorn enormous boulders with imagery destined to be shared with generations to come. The pottery work of the Indus civilisation and the historic structures of cities such as Peshawar have all been sources of inspiration for me as a painter and craftsman of pottery,” Imran explains.
Turning to painting, Imran reveals that the painting he is most proud of is a 14-foot-long painting of 12 national heroes from all over Pakistan. “We should not always present the negative things in society, but rather showcase those who have contributed to the progress and development of this country,” he states.
“Every human being is beautiful but what attracts me the most are the heroes of my country,” Imran explains. “Our national heroes are the real representatives of this country and they have contributed a lot to the glory of this nation,” he adds.
However, he says that the talent of artists in Peshawar has always been exploited.
Referring to past experiences, Imran narrates how he recently placed three paintings in an exhibition currently held in Peshawar by Hunerkada, the College of Visual and Performing Arts, but all of them were taken away by the organiser without paying him even a single penny.
As he speaks about his life, Imran also recalls that he had a very difficult childhood as he belongs to an underprivileged family from Peshawar. “My father was a fruit seller while my older brother was a truck painter. I gave up studying after class two and started working. While working with my older brother in his truck art shop, I started playing with colours,” he says.
As his experience and fascination with colours grew, he started working with Ismail Khan and M M Sharif, a renowned painter who designed cinema hoardings in Peshawar. However his experience was not very pleasant, “They were very rude to me, as every artist used to be, they did not teach me anything directly but I have learnt from them through my observations,” Imran said.
In the same line of thought, Imran talks about the importance of a teacher for an artist. “There are not enough institutions in Peshawar to teach painting, the art and design department at the University of Peshawar is also poorly equipped. There are no capable teachers or studios, and currently there is only one teacher teaching painting to students,” Imran explains.
Previously, organisations such as the Abasin Arts Council and Khana-e-Farhang Iran in Peshawar kept art alive by teaching painting and classical music while also giving art lovers an outlet to quench their thirst for paintings. Unfortunately, they have now lost their glory causing the art scene to further dwindle in Peshawar.
Imran further elaborates that Khana-e-Farhang Iran was where Qais Nawab, an eminent painter from Afghanistan, greatly flourished and that his artistic skills were a gift for art lovers in Peshawar. However, they lost both the artist and the institution due to militancy and bad governance.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 28th, 2012.
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