Icons of Pakistani art

Ejaz Art Gallery pays a commercial tribute to twelve art masters through an exhibit.

A look back at the masters who established the foundation of Pakistani aesthetics before the digital age. PHOTO: SHAFIQ MALIK\EXPRESS


People come and people go, but there are some icons that remain alive forever through their work. The magnitude of what they do or have done is something even they do not fully comprehend in a lifetime. Ejaz Art Gallery opened a group show, showcasing the work of such art masters.

With the technological world making magnificent advancements, it is almost necessary to look back at the masters who established the foundation of Pakistani aesthetics before the digital age. The artists featured at Ejaz Art Gallery can never be erased; what they created is timeless and has become a part of our lives. Even people who are not well-versed in art will know these names. Through this exhibit, Ejaz Art Gallery pays a commercial tribute to these twelve icons.

MF Husain’s juxtaposition of different worlds on a canvas, can encapsulate the viewer by its charm. His work is known for its witty themes that speak to Muslims, Hindus and British Colonists.

Abdur Rahman Chughtai was the overwhelming star of South Asian art at the British Empire exhibition at Wembley, England. His work depicts heroes and heroines, including Mughal kings and queens. He was one of the first artists from the subcontinent to have studied printmaking at the Royal College of Art in London, and later on acquired his own press, producing hundreds of highly refined etchings.

Allah Bux is known for his realistic, yet daringly experimental landscapes. His figurative style is readily identifiable and the artist worked with a variety of media.

Sadequain is a name that is etched in the minds of Pakistanis everywhere. From calligraphy, to figurative, to murals, Sadequain is a legend, and one of the most sought after artists to emerge from Pakistan. It is a well-known fact that Sadequain gave away most of his art, and people either acquired it directly from him, or it was auctioned and sold later on after his death. This exhibit features a portrait and calligraphy.

Ahmed Parvez earned stardom in the Pakistan art community with his colorful and cheerful abstractions, done up in his iconic signature prominently displayed over the imagery. The piece on display at the exhibit is a variation on his dynamic bouquet motifs, and manifests the artist’s verve.

Colin David was best known for his nudes and portraits, and even though he suffered physical attacks from conservative elements in society, he never backed down. The pieces at Ejaz however, are abstract, non-figurative compositions.

AR Nagori painted social-political commentary. His flamboyant canvas, filled with colorful raw style, conveys his disdain for social evil and injustice. He comments on corruption by government officials, and the plight of women in rural areas of Pakistan.

Saeed Akhtar is the decorated portrait painter, famous for his sultry self-portraits and dramatically draped, provocative Sindhi and Baluchi women. His work sings a melody of beauty and his meticulous renditions of Jinnah are equally popular.

Jamil Naqsh is best known for his nudes and iconic pigeons. The exhibit at Ejaz pays tribute to his monochrome nudes and figurative pieces.

Zulqarnain Haider’s realistic landscapes are almost photographic. He captures the seasons and the flora and fauna of Punjab. His work offers a moment of peace, tranquility and respite from manic city life.

Ismail Gulgee is another name of eminent importance. His passion for art led him down a different career path. While he was obsessed with Muslim architecture and mosques, he devoted the latter half of his career to powerful calligraphic imagery, which eventually became iconic. Those who are generally not fans of calligraphy tend to get lost in Gulgee’s work.

Being in the presence of these masters, all under one roof, makes one realize how desperately Pakistan needs proper museums to house these works of art for the public to view, and educate themselves regarding the immense talent this country has produced. More than just iconic, these artists are inspirational for having followed their dreams and creating master pieces that are now auctioned off and collected internationally.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 16th, 2014.

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Feroz | 7 years ago | Reply

Why is this an all gents group, where are the lady artists ? Is there no equivalent of an Amrita Sher Gill here ?

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