The Sadequain Gallery was the venue of an exhibition that featured 18 participating artists as well as including artworks of the masters such as A.R. Chugtai, Ustad Allah Bakhsh, Sadequain and Jamil Naqsh. Visitors to the show had the opportunity to enjoy an aesthetic tradition as well as enjoying the work of the creative artists upholding a proud tradition in current times. Throughout history, art has reflected the times in which it was created. As well as communicating the era of its making, it has also been instrumental in sharing a period of aesthetic activity for the enjoyment and understanding of future generations.
The very ambitious and colourful event was organised by the Culture Department of CS&R KMC. A variety of colourful signature styles of distinguished contemporary artists was displayed. One discovered the symbolic flowers of Mona Naqsh, instantly recognisable with their message of life, death and regeneration, and went on to find Summaiya Jillani’s portraits of the much cherished singers Madam Noor Jehan and Nazia Hassan, beautifully rendered and both painted with brilliant colouration and style. The mood continued with the work of artist Ghulam Abbas Kamangar who portrayed the performance of popular folk singers.
At the opening event, there was music, poetry and a dance performance by Sheema Kirmani that created a festive ambience and was much enjoyed. Pomme Amina Afzal created a special section as homage to Miss. Fatima Jinnah.
There, Noorjehan Bilgrami had fashioned a gharara suit costume as worn by Ms. Jinnah, which she had studied in great detail. Alongside Ms. Jinnah’s smiling photograph was placed a small vase of flowers and the notebook and pen that were always at Ms. Jinnah’s bedside.
Paintings by Anwar Ali also had nostalgic undertones, with the streets of Karachi seen in less hectic times. One discovered the trams moving along with a few cyclists and people safely crossing the streets. Along the road, small shops were lit and in the distance tall buildings stood out in the early evening.
An amazing painting by Jimmy Engineer, Under the Banyan Tree, showed the migration of families, crowds of people making their way towards a new homeland during the time of Partition. Depicted in the painting were numerous figures, too many to count. Some were accompanied with children, some with buffaloes carrying bundles and the young assisting the old. The detailed painting was a masterpiece, a work of art to be kept in a Museum of Art, which is much needed in Karachi. Subsequently, the artist has been invited to exhibit his work in a museum of art in China.
Artist Mariam Saeedullah showed two large-scale paintings of the Moghul era painted in her signature miniature style, with minutely-scaled details of costumes and jewellery. Amin Gulgee’s sculpture was much admired, as were the stunning photographs of the sea by Jamal Ashiqain depicting a symbol of timelessness. Farrukh Shahab appeared to capture the sunny days of childhood with paper boats bobbing on the waves, and Muna Siddiqui created beautiful images from broken tiles.
The traditional fashions of the past created a dramatic scenario. There were costumes designed by Rizwan Beyg, decorated with numerous gold strands of embroidery, creating patterns on rich silks and velvets.
Nahid Raza contributed two thoughtful paintings to the event, which were studies of women alone, appearing thoughtful and at peace; and one looked at a similar vein of thought in the work of Naushad Alam, who had brightened deserted, tumbledown empty wooden shacks with a mass of colourful wild flowers.
Wahab Jaffer’s work glowed from the wall, full of vitality in his singular style, while the drumbeat of Sikandar Mufti was invigorating, and then there was the poet’s corner where Sunil Shankar recited the poems of Ghalib and Faiz Ahmed Faiz to an appreciative audience.
The event was planned so that every province of the country was prominent in the display with handicrafts, costumes and landscape paintings. Among the works of old masters, one saw the work of Eqbal Mehdi, who, for many years had a thriving studio, teaching talented apprentices before art schools opened in Karachi.
Among the contributing artists was the outstanding work of Faiza Samee, Abdul Hameed, Sabia Gul and Shafiq Quraishi, all of whom made important contributions to the delightful show. •