Reading Sadequain in Karachi one quatrain at a time

Farooq Tirmizi July 03, 2010

KARACHI: His paintings are famous among art lovers throughout the country, but less well known is the fact that Sadequain was also a poet, remarkably prolific in writing quatrains, or rubayat, in Urdu.

The collection of his poetry, titled Rubayat e Sadequain Kulliyat (The complete quatrains of Sadequain), launched at the Arts Council in Karachi on Saturday, sought to portray a more complete view of the renaissance man, juxtaposing readings of his poetry with an exhibition of his drawings.

The book was compiled and published by Sadequain’s nephew, Sultan Ahmad Naqvi, in an attempt to illuminate an aspect of his life that even many of his admirers know little about.

“We feel it is our filial duty to bring Sadequain’s artistic acumen to light,” said Sibtain Naqvi, one of the masters of ceremony at the event and the son of Sultan Naqvi.

The 600-page book contains about 2,500 quatrains, mostly about love, but also about God, sacrifice and of course, art. It contains 200 illustrations drawn by Sadequain himself to accompany his verses. In some cases, the poetry is written in the poet’s own calligraphy. The book is priced at Rs1,650.

The launch itself was a relatively low-key affair, though it included some big names. Anwar Maqsood, a modern renaissance man in his own right, was one the hosts. Rahat Kazmi, the renowned actor and educator, was among the poetry readers.

The event was also probably one of the few places in Karachi where people greeted each other not with “hello” or “Assalam-o-Alaikum” but with “Adaab”, the secular greeting indigenous to Urdu but rarely ever used.

The exhibition of drawings was also accompanied by a sale of copies printed on jute, each priced at Rs5,000. Jute seemed to be a running theme at the event. Even the book itself came wrapped in a jute jacket. According to the event’s organisers, it was meant to symbolise Sadequain’s asceticism.

Sadequain Publications, the organisers of the event, are a private corporation owned by his family and dedicated to promoting Sadequain’s art. They plan to regularly hold events, centred on book launches. The next event is planned for February. In addition, the organisation wants to promote more frequent exhibitions of Sadequain’s work.

“Sadequain was an artist for the masses,” said Sibtain Naqvi. “His art is not meant to be caged in the drawing rooms of Defense.”

Born in 1930 in Amroha, UP, India, Sadequain is one of Pakistan’s best known artists and calligraphers. His murals adorn the halls of the State Bank and Frere Hall in Karachi, Lahore Museum and Punjab University in Lahore as well as many other locations around the world. He died in 1987 in Karachi.

Published in The Express Tribune, July  4th, 2010.


IBN-E-SAIF | 11 years ago | Reply Sadequain was true Artist. He was a man of par excellence. He loved poor man. I recall his interview with Herald where he had said that inspite of drawing portrait of a king, I will prefer to portray a BHANGAN (sweepress). How can one say that Sadequain was not an artist of masses. As far as the prices of books are concerned we spend more than that at Pizza, KFC and at luxury hotels. I will never hesitate to purchase his books in Rs. 1650 and Rs. 5000 provided I starve a month even. I have his book Ruqa'at-e-Sadequain now in my library worth Rs. 100 which is an antique. I had met this Faqeer (Sadequain) alongwith Shan-ul-haq Haqqi (a poet) at Fareer Hall located at Bagh-e-Quaid-i-Azam. At that time he was displaying his artwork on marble (series of Surah-e-Rehman). He never sold his work even book titles he designed had given free. This was the style of the artist of masses and of a Faqeer Sadequain.
tch tch | 11 years ago | Reply Sadequain an artist for the masses and his book priced at Rs. 1650. Sadequain's asceticism symbolised by a book printed on jute and priced Rs. 5000. Oh my God! What next?
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