100th birthday: Painter Shakir Ali remembered

One-day seminar organised to discuss artist’s life and influence


Our Correspondent October 01, 2016
According to Marjorie, Shakir introduced a form of art – cubism – to the painters of Lahore. PHOTO: COMPFIGHT.COM

LAHORE: The informal gatherings of poets, writers and painters on Mall Road with their vigorous intellectual involvement in sociopolitical happenings nurtured Pakistani art into an established institution of the society. They were capable of representing a glorious past, able to live a thriving present and to reflect upon a splendid future.

These views were shared by Prof Sajida Vandal at a seminar organised by the Society for Cultural Education (SCE) in collaboration with the Trust for History and Architecture of Punjab-Pakistan (THAAP)  and the Pakistan National Council of Arts.

Prof Sajida, the THAAP executive director, informed the audience about the contributions of literary and academic intellectuals of the 1950’s that left a mark on art and culture in the country.



The event was aimed at paying tribute to one of Asia’s greatest painters Shakir Ali on his 100th birthday. ‘Rethinking the modern through Shakir Ali’, included several scholars paying tribute to thinkers of 50’s who added a flavour of modernity in the development of Pakistani art for later decades.

Quddus Mirza, an artist and an art critic, presented his paper titled ‘Shakir Ali – of human and other Species’, where he highlighted the symbols and metaphors in Shakir’s paintings.

According to Quddus, Shakir tried to decode the iconography of birds and humans and traced the use of the same in Indian culture and art. “In the case of Shakir Ali, it was not what was on the surface, nor the essence, not even the meaning or context, but a combination of all of those,” he expounded. “Shakir’s bird, unlike the crow, frequently captured by his contemporary – Sadequain, in most instances was unrecognisable.”

As an artist, Quddus said, Shakir enjoyed the privilege or rather the curse of belonging from two nations (India and Pakistan).  “Arguably, he [Shakir] was of the view that an artist or an individual belongs to a world that cannot be confined to national territories,” he added.

Marjorie Hussain, a well-known, Karachi-based art writer’s paper was presented by Prof Rahat Naveed Masud. The paper titled ‘Shakir Ali — a fond memory’ elucidated the life of Shakir Ali in Lahore and the social meet ups in Pak Tea House with other contemporaries.

According to Marjorie, Shakir introduced a form of art – cubism – to the painters of Lahore.

“He [Shakir] guided and influenced a generation of young artists, who followed his example of being entirely sincere to art, proved outstanding in their various disciplines,” Hussain  stated.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 2nd, 2016.

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