LAHORE: The idea that drawing as an independent discipline is traditional and cannot be a modern art form is false. Art students need to learn the skill to be innovative and creative, says National College of Arts Principal Murtaza Jafri.
He was speaking at the opening day of an exhibition titled Tradition and Innovation at the college’s Zahoorul Akhlaq Gallery on Monday. The works on display include sketches on paper and pages from sketchbooks of renowned artists including Akram Dost, Rahat Navid, Jamil Baloch and Maria Khan, besides Prof Murtaza Jafri.
A drawing by Colin David is also on display. It is a caricature of a peer, renowned portrait painter Saeed Akhtar. Selected works from Quetta-based Kaleem Khan’s sketchbook are also showcased.
Prof Jafri says learning how to draw is not just a pre-requisite for learning other art forms. “Artists learn how to think by drawing an image,” he says. “I had particularly wanted to share my 12 charcoal on paper figure drawings with the students. I am teaching a drawing course to first year students. I want them to learn the skill early on in their art education,” he adds.
He says most of his displayed works are blind contour drawings (drawn while looking only at the model and not at work in progress).
Curator Aamna Hussain says in selecting artists and their works for the exhibition she has been careful to pick those known for highlighting drawing as an independent form of art. “Drawing is a mode of visual thinking. It is not just a skill that you learn before proceeding to paintings, sculpture or print making,” she says.
Sculptor Jamil Baloch says he believes learning to draw is important irrespective of one’s specialty. He says though he is a sculptor he would frequently make drawings as well. “I use several in different techniques, including line drawings,” he adds.
His 11 charcoal portraits and three graphite drawings are at display. The portraits depict several tribes from Balochistan and his family. The graphite drawings portray Brazilian football legend, Pelé.
NCA Fine Arts Department Head Quddus Mirza says the exhibition is unique because it showcases work not originally meant to be shared with others.
Maria Khan, a teacher at Punjab University’s Fine Arts Department, has displayed works from her sketchbook. She says she had not drawn these with the intention of putting them on display. “These were drawings I made while I was learning the art,” she says. She says earlier she used to be very protective about such works. Later on, she decided that it was better to put the images before an audience rather than keeping them to oneself. “It will show them the importance of drawing as a form of visual thinking,” she adds.
The exhibition will continue till March 9.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 3rd, 2015.
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