“If there are no artists, we will go and make artists,” Hajra Mansoor

  • 28 Mar - 03 Apr, 2020
  • Rubab Fatima
  • Art

Art is one powerful expression that is used to demostrate an artist's creativity and imagination in a visual format. I entered into Artscene Gallery for a solo exhibtion by an internationally known senior artist Hajra Mansoor, who is considered to be one of the pioneers in the field of art. Studied from Lucknow Art College on a scholarship, she along with her sister and husband after returning to the counry set up Karachi's first art college named Karachi School of Art. She got married to the distinguished contemporary painter, Mansoor Rahi in 1969. Hajra considers herself as a born artist and was clear that she wanted to pursue art since the beginning. Had it not for the love of art, she would have ended up as a doctor. It was her determination to not only continue her journey as a painter but also to pass her knowledge to others.

I got in touch with the acclaimed artist who is a mentor to many renowned names in the field of art to have a little piece of her mind on exhibiting her recent collection. I was surprised to see how passionate an aged person can be, who has spent her entire life being associated with art and still has so much to offer with her skills and talent. Taking a trip down the memory lane about how her journey started, she said, "When my principal got to know that I am from Pakistan, he said that there are no such artists there except a few, what will you do? I then, challenged him that if there are no artists, we will go and make artists." And, she did just that! Blessed with a flair for art naturally, she also learnt it professionally. I asked her to tell about how she connects with art, to which she replied, "Art is my life, it is literally everything."

She has extensively researched in the creative synthesis of painting and entered in the evolution of periodical phases in her life time work. She has time and again proved her mettle in various styles, namely Academic Realism, Classism, Oriental Intuitionism, Oriental Formalism and Neo Romanticism. She has until now exhibited 42 solo shows and also held group shows abroad including Japan, France, Turkey, England, Iran, Germany, USA and China. This was her 43rd solo show at the gallery, where she presented oriental art with a modern touch. She doesn't believe in setting a particular theme as according to her, it would be illustrations then, and not paintings. She said a painting is something that comes only from one's mind and thoughts which cannot be copied or illustrated from anywhere else.

As I asked her about the techniques she used to create her paintings she said, "I've used the old watercolour technique and have added a slight touch of my own created technique which is called watercolour fix wash." She believes in creating her own techniques and ways to fabricate and design her paintings and basically, not doing everything with the same conventional methods that everyone follows. She explained that her paintings are usually a reflection of her nature and that they come straight from her thoughts and ideology of life.

She is undoubtedly an institution and has been acknowledged with several awards for her life long contributions to the field of art, namely the Pride of Performance, Chughtai Award, Jamshoro Life Time Achievement Award to name a few. Her work has delighted the audiences in Pakistan and abroad. The themes she usually works on are linked to the golden era romance inspired by the Mughal Miniature Art. The artist also has on her credit, a unique genre which she has created by introducing experimental nuances into her work with contemporary media techniques and the rythmic flow of her brush strokes are appealing to the core.

Her collection consisted of beautiful colourful portraits that signify beauty and charisma of a strong woman. Her inspiration derived from Asian ideals of beauty and the paintings were mainly women centric that focuses on beautifying them by highlighting their features and enhancing them even more. The paintings were extremely captivating and alluring with bright colours bursting and drawn with precision on the canvas.

Currently she is living in Islamabad, running her own gallery. One thing that really inspired me while talking to this amazing artist, was that she was of the opinion that it is not only the artist which paints and creates according to his understanding, but it is also very important for the audience to see and perceive the artist's creation with a certain understanding that will help the attendees to have a better insight of what the artist has created before them. •