PESHAWAR: Among all the contemporary artists of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P), few have painted landscapes as bright and vivid as Jehanzeb Malik. In fact, his work is not merely an imitation of the province’s vast landscapes but rather an aesthetically appealing depiction of eternal, natural beauty.
“My art is neither utopian, nor mired in the darkness,” Malik told The Express Tribune, while painting another bright-coloured piece of landscape. His paintings give off a positive vibe, with a charm that draws the viewer in.
Malik’s expertise in landscape paintings has earned him a separate identity which took years of effort and struggling against the odds to build. “When Pakistan was created, Ghani Khan, the great philosopher, poet and sculptor, was the only asset in this part of the country,” said Malik, who has become known as the “indomitable fighter” of art in KPK. “There was neither any institution to promote art, nor did the government authorities ever focus on promoting it.”
According to Malik, it was the efforts of a few individuals who set up the Abasin Arts Council that trained dozens of artists. But now, things have come to a standstill due to the prevailing socio-economic conditions and no efforts are being made to take art further. “Now we have artists with no opportunities to show their work to the world,” Malik lamented.
Malik’s chosen medium is oil on canvas. When asked about any other medium, the painter simply replied, “I can’t work in another medium.” The artwork is well-structured and Malik’s dexterity and hard work are apparent in every piece. Besides depicting landscapes, he has also painted portraits of some traditional Pakhtun men, standing out against the backdrop of nature. “Under a strange ethereal light, I try to create effects of peace and tranquility,” he explained. “I have tried to embed the landscapes and portraits with bright colours, which suggest the positive side of life.”
What is evident in much of Malik’s work is love of his country, as many of them depict popular historical sites of Pakistan. “I fell in love with these historical structures,” he said. “I felt like, the distant past all around me, gave me confidence to develop it on the canvas.”
Himself trained at Abasin Arts Council and then, under the supervision of some renowned artists such as Shahzad Sultan Haider and Mansoor Rahi, Malik has won the S.S. Haider, Guljee and Ghani Khan Awards. He is the founding member of Abbotabad Arts Council and so far, has held 15 exhibitions of his paintings and calligraphy outside Pakistan.
In order to pay homage to senior artists of his province, Malik also recently authored a book entitled Mere Mussawir, Mere Dost, wherein he has discussed the art work of 90 artists from KPK. But unlike other young painters, who complain about a lack of demand for art, almost all of Malik’s paintings have been sold, primarily to art enthusiasts from across Pakistan.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 18th, 2016.
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