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Baloch Culture Day – My Beautiful Balochistan- The Heart and Soul of Pakistan

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Baloch Culture Day

By Sajjad Shaukat

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p style=”text-align: left;”>Email: sajjad_logic@yahoo.com
Page 1 of 4 Baloch Culture Day By Sajjad Shaukat Baloch Cultural Day is being celebrated on March 2 every year with the aim to highlight and promote the diversified and rich Balochi culture. This very day is being commemorated not only in various districts of the Balochistan province, but also throughout the country besides in Iran, Afghanistan, Dubai, Muscat, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and India. The Visionary Group of Gwadar, involved in developing, construction and social services in Balochistan, has taken the initiative of highlighting and promoting Balochi culture and language beyond the borders of Pakistan. Various shows including musical programmes are being organised in various cities and towns of Balochistan, Sindh and Balochi speaking districts of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. On the occasion, various processions of youth, students and people from all walks of life would be taken out from various parts of the provincial capital of Balochistan with distinctive Balochi dress, turban and embroided dresses. Celebration of the said event started during 2011. Baloch community in Pakistan and abroad organizes various programmes to highlight different shades of Baloch culture/traditions. Appreciable media coverage of various programmes also gets coverage in local and domestic media. The strong traditions and cultural values are important to Baloch people and have enabled them to keep their distinctive ancient cultural identity and way of life with little change to this day. The culture and traditions of the Baloch have historically been passed down from mother to daughter and from father to son. Baloch people have preserved their traditional dress with little change over the centuries. The Baloch men wear long shirts with long sleeves and loose pants. The dress is occasionally accompanied by a pagh (turban) or a hat on their heads. Last year, various musical, cultural and literary ceremonies were held in Quetta and other parts of Balochistan in connection with the Baloch Culture Day—ceremonies were also organised in other countries where Balochs are residing, including Iran, Afghanistan, Dubai, Muscat, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and India. In Quetta, a huge ceremony to mark Baloch Culture Day was held at Balochistan Arts Council which was attended by hundreds of people, including women and children dressed in typical Balochi dress. Cultural and musical shows were held at Arts Council where youngsters and children exhibited their talent by singing Balochi songs and performing Balochi dance. “This is a big day for us. We are excited and proud of our culture and tradition which teach us love, tolerance and bravery”, said Ibrahim Rakhshani, a 28-year-old young man wearing a Balochi turban and trouser with typical Balochi shoes. Yar Muhammad Badini, a Baloch intellectual and researcher says, Balochi literature is the best way to understand Baloch people and their culture. “Balochi culture and language have its own uniqueness and richness which needs to be promoted in the country,” he stressed, adding, that Baloch people besides in Pakistan were also residing in different other countries particularly in Iran, Afghanistan, Oman, East Africa and Turkmenistan. “Baloch woman dress is also recognised as national woman dress of Oman,” he added. However, he does not seem satisfy with the efforts of government to
Page 2 of 4promote Balochi language and culture in the country. “Balochi language is one of those languages which is struggling hard for its survival and needs immediate focus of government,” he added. Meanwhile, Baloch Culture Day was also celebrated in other towns of Balochistan, including Nushki, Turbat, Gwadar, Mastung, Chagai, Sibi, Naseerabad and Jaffarabad where different musical and cultural shows were organised to mark. During this vary day, it is also of particular attention that since, the government of the Balochistan province announced general pardon and protection to the Baloch militants as part of reconciliation process, many insurgents and their leaders have surrendered their arms and decided to work for the development of Pakistan and the province, peace has been restored in the province. However, civil, federal and provincial governments are making strenuous efforts to restore peace and order in the province. For this purpose, a paramilitary committee has also been formed by the ruling party to hold negotiations with the disgruntled elements. And Chief of Army Staff Gen. Raheel Sharif also supports political settlement—general pardon to the insurgents in Balochistan, so that, development works including the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) which would bring unlimited benefits to the province and its people must be completed. Although in the recent years, Pakistan’s civil and military high officials have been saying that foreign hands are behind the insurgency in Balochistan province in order to destabilize Pakistan, yet army chief’s clear statement in this respect is notable. During his visit to Quetta, Gen. Raheel Sharif on April 15, last year warned foreign forces and spy agencies against destabilizing Pakistan by supporting insurgents in Balochistan. Gen. Raheel elaborated, “Army will continue supporting the Balochistan government till terrorism is wiped out…those found involved in funding and facilitating terrorists will be dealt with iron hands.” Now, the Balolch people know about a foreign conspiracy against Balochistan. A majority of the Baloch persons have understood that Balochistan’s mineral resources and geo-strategic location with deep Gwadar seaport, connecting rest of the world with Central Asia have further annoyed the US and India because China has already invested billion of dollars to develop this seaport. It is due to multiple strategic designs that the US which signed a nuclear deal with India in 2008 seeks to dismember both Pakistan and Iran. They are well aware of the fact that with the tactical support of American CIA and Israeli Mossad, Indian RAW has continuously been assisting the Baloch separatist groups and Baloch Sub Nationalists to conduct subversive acts—and using terrorist elements in Balochistan to threat Chinese interest in the development of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. And, Afghanistan has become a hub from where external secret agencies have been funding and arranging subversive activities in other parts of Pakistan—especially in Balochistan through their affiliated militant groups at the cost of Pakistan, China and Iran. In the past few years, they abducted and killed many Chinese and Iranian nationals in Pakistan. It is mentionable that as a result of the general elections 2013, the government led by the nationalist leader Chief Minister Balochistan Dr. Abdul Malik Baloch was established in
Page 3 of 4Balochistan, while on December 7, 2013; local bodies elections were largely held in a peaceful manner in the province. These elections proved that majority of the Baloch are loyal to the federation, and have rejected the case of separatists, being projected by foreign forces which are destabilizing Pakistan by supporting anti-state elements in Balochistan. Notably, in the recent years, Pak Army has made strenuous efforts to develop the infrastructure in Balochistan by providing the people employment opportunities to bring the Balochis in the mainstream of the country. For the purpose, army has not only established schools and colleges in Balochistan, but also set up technical and industrial institutes in the province, besides giving military training to the youth. Various development projects and progressive works, undertaken by Army in Balochistan are Military College SUI Balochistan, Balochistan Public School at SUI, Quetta Institute of Medical Sciences, Gwadar Institute of Technology, Chamalang Beneficiary Education Program, Balochistan Institute of Technical Education, Army Institute of Mineralogy, Assistance to Ministry of Education Balochistan, Baloch Youth Enrollment in Pakistan Army, Dera Bugti Development Projects, Development Projects Kohlu and Nasirabad Division, and Pakistan Army Assistance in Development of Road Networks including Assistance to Ministry of Education Balochistan, Provision of Free Gas & Water, Construction of 50 Bed Hospital at SUI, Chamalang, Musa Khel & Dukki Coal Mines, KASSA Hill Marble Project, Dates Farming at Panjgur, Garrison & Musa Sports Complex, Free Medical Camps, Earthquake 2008 and Pak Army Relief & Rehabilitation Efforts, Flood 2010 and Pak Army Relief & Rehabilitation Efforts, and many other similar projects and provision of services. Nevertheless, army’s positive steps will increase income of the Baloch youth and reduce their dependence on sardars who are working on the agenda of some foreign powers. Now patriot Balochis have come to know that Pak Army is neither mercenary nor occupying force; while external-backed insurgency has hampered the growth and development of the province. They also know that the province lacked engineers and skilled workers. In this respect, measures of Pak Army have been ensuring local enterprise, local manpower and local skill among the Baloshis. In 2011, I had visited Balochistan along with other journalists. I saw a number of institutes, set up by army, and these were providing especially technical training to thousands of Balochis. I had also a trip to far-flung areas of the province and witnessed various mega projects and mineral sites. I was greatly surprised that no military operation is going on in Balochistan as propagated by the foreign elements. People told me that some subversive events are taking place by the minority separatist elements so as to create instability in the province. No doubt, army’s progressive role through numerous schemes and projects for the development of Balochistan will change the fortune of the Baloch people very soon, which is likely to castigate the foreign conspiracy against the province. It is worth-mentioning that Balochistan had been hit in the past by some phenomenally devastating calamities like floods of 1950, 1973, 1976, 1977, 1992, 2000, 2010, 2011 and 2012, drought of 2000 and cyclone of 2007. The real saviors of people of Balochistan were Armed
Page 4 of 4Forces and FC which quickly responded to the call of duty by extending helping hand to fellow countrymen, conducted exceptionally dangerous rescue missions and provided relief to the victims. Similarly, on September 24, 2013, Awaran district of Balochistan was hit by an earthquake. Pakistan Army and FC promptly acted as asked for by the government. Although FC personnel located in the area were equally struck by the earthquake, yet they were the first ones to respond to the situation. And the Army units hastily moved from Khuzdar and Karachi. Nonetheless, the every Pakistani must celebrate the Baloch Culture Day with full zeal by giving importance to the Balochi traditions.

Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations Email: sajjad_logic@yah

 

 

 

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PAKISTANI ARTISTS AND SCULPTORS

PAKISTANI ARTISTS AND SCULPTORS

The DNA code of Pakistani painting is a complex one. The early experiment with the stem cells of modern art movements to further a nationalist agenda birthed a Pakistani modernity. The artist not content to be on the fringe turned into the protagonist of the ‘other story’- a saga of three decades that chronicles the trauma of a heterogeneous people learning to be a nation and an agenda of conscience that defied the colonization of the spirit.

Bol kay lab azaad hain…challenged the revolutionary, Faiz.
(speak out for your lips are no longer sealed)

With this independent spirit, the artists create an expressive contemporary mosaic. For those who can penetrate its layers the most important sub- text is the latent philosophy. Naqvi in his tome ‘Image and Identity’ locates the Pakistani artist in the malamati tradition..A group of free- thinking Muslim writers and poets that occupies the nimbus between the secular and the religious. The art of Pakistan reaffirms that the artist unlike the politics of the time, has transcended religion into the cultural domain, a timeless matrix of creativity.

 Courtesy: Understanding Pakistan Project  Please Visit this Excellent Site on Pakistani Art & Artists.
 

 

PUNJ PIYARE: BIRDS OF A FEATHER

 

Moeen

The culture that took root nearly 50 centuries ago in the Indus Valley of the present day Pakistan came to be known as the oldest urban ethos of the region. The eventual infusion of Islam not only enhanced the cultural identification of Pakistan but also advanced the development of art over the years. During the pre-Partition days, poetry and literature were the primary means of expression and highly respected forms of art. On the contrary, artists were considered as languishing craftsmen who simply replicated traditional art. After independence, modernism was chosen as a popular approach by Pakistani artists like Shakir Ali and Zubeida Agha for emancipation and free enterprise, contrary to the restrained demeanour of the old school.

Shakir Ali did his masters from the Sir Jamsetjee Jeejebhoy (JJ) School of Arts, Bombay, and left for England and France. On his return in 1952, Ali, after a short stint as a drawing master in Karachi, joined the Mayo School, Lahore as a lecturer. In 1958, the Mayo School was upgraded to National College of Arts (NCA) where Professor Mark Sponenburgh, an ex-JJ School sculptor, continued as the Principal and introduced major changes in the curriculum for necessary upgrading of the art disciplines. Ali succeeded Sponenburgh as Principal in 1961, where he served till 1969.

Ali’s presence in Lahore acted as a catalyst to the liberal art community for his overwhelming interest in the works of Cézanne and Cubism, which he introduced in the 1950s. He was also inspired by Muslim calligraphy and exploited its use in his paintings. A stranger to the city of Lahore, he took refuge in the tea and coffee houses on the Mall, where artists and poets frequently congregated to exercise creative intelligence. These individuals were frustrated with the events of the recent past and were anxious for a change. The addition of Ali amidst a perturbed set of like-minded artists was timely to impart the requisite impetus. He never forced anyone to paint like he did; instead, he inculcated the desire to be original.

Amongst his closest associates who rejuvenated the post-Partition modern art were Sheikh Safdar, Raheel Akbar Javed, Anwar Jalal Shemza, Moeen Najmi and Ali Imam. Dr Akbar Naqvi, a distinguished art critic, in his book, Image and Identity, gave them the title of Shakir Ali’s Panj Piyare (meaning ‘the five beloved ones’ in Punjabi).

Seated Nude in Blue, 1970
ShakircAli (Pakistani, 1916–1975)
Oil on canvas; 35 x 54 in.
Image courtesy of ShakircAli Museum, Lahore
ShakircAli Museum

Sheikh Safdar, the first piyara, painted in the style of a cubist and drew subjects that were Ali’s favourite; however, he could not achieve the sensitivity of the mentor. Safdar’s painting of ‘Mother and child’ was ornamental and carried liberal signs of modern art. His style bore some semblance to the work of Zubeida Agha. Influence of the renowned painter Jamini Roy was also incipient in his paintings. Safdar made use of the multipoint view of an object but in a primitive manner. Although Cubism had become quite popular, but somehow, his work remained reluctant and wanting. With a limited creative acumen, he painted for pleasure to attempt anything that was different and spellbinding.

Raheel Akbar was a remarkably versatile painter who could express utilising a variety of subjects with equal ease. His paintings are composed of abstract forms which are defined with vivid fluorescent colours. The basic shapes of the rectangles, cubes and squares are arranged in a pleasant picturesque format. Unlike the characteristics of cubism, he searched for attractiveness and a particular impression of light and texture. He was Ali’s second piyara, who left the country in the ’70s.

Anwar Jalal Shemza, the third piyara, obtained his diploma from the Mayo School of Art and did his graduation from the Slade School of Art, UK. He was modest about the choice of canvas size like his mentor Paul Klee. The small-sized paintings drew the viewer closer to observe the detailed

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

handling of the medium. Shemza carried out numerous delicately executed paintings based on the alphabets B and D, before his death in 1985 in England. His paintings of ‘Roots’ series based on arabesque carry nostalgic nuances of his homeland and people.

The fourth piyara, Moeen Najmi was a founding member of the Lahore Art Circle and taught at the Aitchison College, Lahore.
Initially he painted trivial landscapes but gradually transformed his style to modern painting. He utilised scenes from rural Punjab and the Shalimar Gardens, Lahore, in his paintings of abstract genre. While keeping architectural monuments in focus, he painted the gardens depicting the entwining of nature and culture. He painted buildings and monuments with a superior sense of ornamental architecture which reflects his yearning for intricate detail. To express the values of Muslim art and culture of the sub-continent was the objective of Najmi’s paintings.

Ali Imam, the fifth pyara of Ali, had a major impact on the art of Pakistan through his students, his acumen for entrepreneurship, the Indus Art Gallery, the journalists, collectors and admirers he created. He had a fair understanding of modern painting and had a wealth of knowledge about art. He appointed himself as an authority on Pakistani art to make a living when he returned from abroad. His painting, before he switched to modern art, comprised of watercolour in a form similar to the Bengal School. He made his early modern paintings in the ’50s, while he became a member of the Lahore Art Circle. Later he moved to Karachi and taught art, while painting whenever possible. During the ’70s, his painting went into decline, but his white paintings turned out to be worthwhile for their unique texture and movement.

The culture of interaction within friends, associates and contemporaries during the ’50s was an effective means of exchanging intellectual information. The tea and coffee houses served as crucial rendezvous points for the brimming prodigies’ talents, who desperately needed to redeem their minds from creative blocks. The combination of ideas and conjecture from diverse origins has an amazing potential to resolve numerous misunderstood concepts of art. Incidentally, in the present day local art scenario, the need for a similar culture of frequent interaction is strongly felt.

Young Artists

Sumaya Durrani

 

 

 
 
A visual adventurer
To know Sumaya Durrani as an artist is to know that she leaves nothing to chance or providence or serendipity
By Nafisa Rizvi
There are a few times in life when history is made, yet the event passes like a ship in the night, unnoticed and unheard, not for lack of witness but for lack of understanding. Sumaya Durrani’s exhibition at Chawkandi Art entitled ‘Rukh-e-Mustafa (PBUH)’ December 4-13, 2008 failed to attract the attention it deserved because the concerns expressed in it were those of a revolutionary and as human qualities go, we detest the shaking of the boat more than perhaps any other emotion. Thus, it was facile and undemanding on the part of the viewer to dismiss the work as that of a renegade artist and a non-conformist visual adventurer. It would have been too much effort to reflect upon it and observe it for the work of a seer that it is. It was easier still to put down the pieces as irrelevant graffiti rather than recognise the boldness of a revolutionary’s writing on the wall, predicting the set of things to come.

 

 

 

 

 
 

 

 

 
 
Uzma Durrani
 
Uzma Durrani

Uzma Durrani

Artist & Jewellery Design Professional

Pakistan 
Arts and Crafts

Reference: DAWN, Pakistan

Decolonizing the Spirit – Pakistani Art from 1947-79

Understanding Pakistan Project Team July 19th, 2007

By: Niilofur Farrukh

The DNA code of Pakistani painting is a complex one. The early experiment with the stem cells of modern art movements to further a nationalist agenda birthed a Pakistani modernity. The artist not content to be on the fringe turned into the protagonist of the ‘other story’- a saga of three decades that chronicles the trauma of a heterogeneous people learning to be a nation and an agenda of conscience that defied the colonization of the spirit. writes Niilofur Farrukh, The Editor of NuktaArt, a contemporary art history magazine in Pakistan, and the research director of Project Art History Pakistan

The maelstrom unleashed by the cartographer’s pen, circa 1947, deepened political fault lines in South Asia. The resulting volatility, fractured a people that were once united in a freedom struggle again colonial fetters. What followed, was the largest displacement of people in history and the birth of two nations.

Like ‘midnights children’ poised on the cusp of loss and gain, the nations struggled to gain a sense of self. The itinerary of the artists could not escape new ideologies. The dynamics of disconnect and displacement opened unexplored territory and a different imperative.To the Indian artist a continuum of the aesthetics of land and religion held no contradiction. The Pakistani artist faced with the aftermath of a three way divorce between land, religion and cultural history had yet to determine philosophical moorings.

Fully aware of their place in history, the manifesto of the artists of nascent Pakistan could not escape the spirit of the time. The political and social leadership that had its roots in the Western educated Muslim elite of undivided India had begun to seriously question the relevance of orthodoxy in a progressive modern future. Contemporary values of the industrialized nations based on reason and science were considered the engine of advancement. Their primary concern became a robust intellectual, economic and social participation in the modern age.

Poet Iqbal, the mentor of this generation with his message of khudi (self) had already reinforced the awakening of individuality and personal ambition and this chipped away at the edifice of fatalistic beliefs, as his verses became the new mantra

Khudi ko kar buland itna kay ha taqdeer say pehlay
Khuda panday say khud poochay, bata tayree raza hia hai

(elevate yourself to such heights of achievement that god is compelled
to consult you before he decides your fate)

This paradigm shift manifested itself in art and experiments with the modern idiom provided a framework to re-examine a familiar cultural terrain.

The upheaval of the last years of the Freedom Movement had created an awareness for the need of ‘a vital new expression, as Raza’s explained ‘ the revivalist movement of the Bengal school despite laudable effort it made to instill an awareness of our cultural heritage, seemed literary works, sentimental, delicate and unresponsive to the pace and anguish of our time’These views found resonance among the aspiring modernists of Pakistan. Ahmed Pervaz, Sheikh Safdar, Shemza, Moyene Najmi and Ali Imam founded the Lahore Art Circle in the early 1950’s. Once again, Lahore, home to Emperor Akbar royal atelier, became the site of a bold new experiment in the visual arts.

A similar movement led by Zainul Abedin was initiated in the Eastern wing of Pakistan.Zubeida Agha (Figure: “Karachi by Night” by Zubeida Agha, painted in 1956), also a Lahorite, had the honor to be the first modernist to hold a solo show as early as 1949 in Karachi. Social taboos separated her from her peers of the Lahore Art Circle as it was unacceptable for a young woman to be seen in the company of male artists and poets at their nocturnal meetings at Lahore’s coffee houses where debates usually raged well into the night. Her gender however did not stop her from making a seminal contribution even if it dictated a separate, often lonely path.

[Editor’s Note: Next Page Contains Some Fascinating, yet heavy bite-sized graphic files that might take, depending upon your computer speed, a while to download. Please be patient as they download – Ed.]

 

Privileged by her family’s support, the missed interaction was compensated by a formal education in artist Sanyal’s studio and later by Mario Perlingieri, a prisoner of war who has received some training from Picasso. Zubaida, a life long admirer of the passionate oeuvre of Amrita Sher Gill, herself sought inspiration from philosophical introspection and painted intangible ideas with an emotional distance.

In the words of Mussarat Hasan, the author of Zubeida Agha’s recent biography “She was one of the great colourist of Pakistani painting. She employed colour not only for itself, but to lend veracity and meaning to her images, culled from life and restructured by her amazing imagination to provoke the viewer into thought.”

Zubeida discussed the partition with Marjorie Hussain in an interview shortly before her death in 1997. ‘Speaking of the turmoil that accompanied partition in 1947, Zubeida recalled the confusion and uncertainty …aware and compassionate, she employed her energies to the need of the time, gradually becoming suffused with the desire to create from chaos…’ Zubeida’s years at St Martins School of Art and Ecole de Beaux in Paris prepared her for the role beyond that of an artist. She was an influential figure on the art scene for half a century both as a strong advocate of Modern Art as the director of The Contemporary Art Gallery in Rawalpindi, which she founded and ran and an activist in the campaign for the National Gallery.

This early exploration of the new idiom was a purely visual response to what the pioneers had been exposed to through colour plates and black and white printed reproductions in magazines and art books. None of them were fully cognizant with the philosophies that energized the Schools of Paris; by default their lack of formal education led to an eclecticism that opened a new space for inventive work.

Akbar Naqvi, Pakistan’s eminent art critic explains ‘Modern art in Pakistan was seen as Cubist and Abstract, and it became the catalyst of freedom for painters. Zubeida Agha and Shakir Ali took the academic version of modern art forms from Paris and rejuvenated them. It was this, and the feeling that they too could rove and ravage the West, as Picasso, Matisse and Klee had done with non-European cultures before, which made this enterprise.’

This was a multicultural interface that did not anticipate that colonial mindset often survives territorial loss and the initiative to dehegemonize art was not going to be without a challenge. The Eurocentric art scholars could not appreciate the work outside the fixed notion of one way appropriation and that all non-European dialogue had to fit into a fixed pre conceived space of the exotic or the derivative. The canons of modernism were simply not open to multiple modernities.

The advent of Modernism also must not be seen as a continuation of the politics of cultural intervention in South Asia. The systematic interference through overt and covert means during the British Raj had eroded the craft base and mutated Miniature Painting into the Company School of Painting. Marginalized and mis-represented, the cultural legacy was being erased from the Indian mind. C R Das in 1917 voiced his concerns “We had made aliens of our own people, we had forgotten the ideals of our heart….”

Unlike previous attempts the post partition artistic synthesis was not an outcome of social engineering but the intellectually motivated decision of free citizens. To the artists modernism symbolized many different things, progress, freedom, search for identity, nationalistic zeal, the excitement of discovery of the immense possibilities within an aesthetics not bound by moribund tradition. To them it was the genesis of a hybrid articulation that would be reflective of the radical change in their social and political environment. An art capable of the resilience and flexibility to cross cultural lines and this became increasingly visible in the oeuvre of the Pakistani Modernist.

For each of these artists Modernism did not mean a denial of their legacy, experiences and affinities but an engagement with them. Shemza, who belonged to a family that traded hand-woven carpets, his reference was design. On this matrix he sought new asymmetrical configurations of the perfected balance of the woven rectangle. What sprang on his canvas in jeweled colors was the distilled and contemporarized vision of an heir to centuries of skilled crafts. This imaginative leap and unity could only be the product of a transformed spirit, as despite the intensive craft- based training at Lahore’s Mayo School of Art, the subaltern was not empowered to script his narrative. Moeen Najmi canvas reflected the architectonic complexities softened by ornamental details of Lahore’s regal and humble, built spaces.

Ahmed Pervaz, the most prolific of the group achieved prominence at home and abroad, was an inspirational figure. His visual dialogue via colour at a purely intuitive plane was a mind map of emotions. It was an inner compulsion that drove him to repeat a dynamic movement energized by exploding small abstract forms. A closer look shows that his forms were not identical, nor static but continuously evolving in the changing amorphous space, constantly challenging the eye to find a focus in the chaos. Maybe it is an affirmation of his tremendous talent that he could create endless variations to rescue his art from the commonplace.

It was the vision of three artists Shakir Ali, Ali Imam and Anna Molka Ahmad, whose pedagogic intervention that took the movement from musings of a few to a mainstream art movement.

 

 

 

 

 
 

 

 

Anna Molka Ahmed (figure) who came to Lahore before 1947 with her husband Sheikh Ahmad, established the Fine Arts Dept. of the Punjab University. Open only to women, the partition was a setback when many students joined the exodus to India. Undeterred, she went knocking on the door of Muslim homes to send their daughters and her passionate appeals were not ignored.

Pragmatic Anna Molka emphasized teaching as a way to sustain art practice. With her students in institutions all over Pakistan, modernism was able to make inroads in smaller towns. According to the artist “… I practice colouristic painting, using colours of different light values for each shade of light and dark.” Her energetic impasto paintings were inspired by the physical geography of her adopted land.

A devoted member of the Lahore Art Circle, Ali Imam’s focused on building a support system for the arts in Karachi. As the head of one of the city’s oldest art academies, in the 1960’s he gave The Central Institute of Arts and Crafts (CIAC) a modern curriculum with theoretical studies integrated with skills to build the intellectual resources of the next generation of artists. When he left it in 1970 to establish the Indus Gallery, today, the longest running commercial gallery of the country and a cultural institution in its own right, he successfully cultivated a group of discerning art buyers in the country’s financial center. The artist, in Ali Imam, always took a back seat, maybe his brother Raza’s genius always made him feel that he could never step out of his shadow. Imam Sahib, as he was known to the generations he influenced, was not a prolific painter. In his art he referenced the figurative tradition in painting and used textural techniques to create visually nigmatic effects under a veil of white to create a signature canvas.

To his students, Shakir Ali despite his anglophile demeanor, was the bridge between the dynamism of Modern European painting and the resilience of the indigenous artistic legacy. Years at Slade School of Art in the UK and School of Industrial Design in Prague provided him with aesthetic strategies to frame his personal experiences and traditional references into a contemporary philosophy. The artist’s oeuvre can be distinctly divided into two groups, one of formalistic innovation with a preoccupation with ‘the significant form’ and an emotive body of work that interprets the vibrant Rajput miniature in a modernist’s tribute.

Hands on experiences like cataloging of the Lahore Museum’s Miniature collection and excursions to mountain villages were common for students while he headedNational College of the Arts, At the country’s largest art school, he encouraged new ways of seeing and enhanced their ability to view things through the prism of a modern thinker. This cultural interface is best seen in his house turned museum in Lahore, where the minimalist interior showcases a collection of vibrant crafts, meticulously collected for their enduring aesthetic appeal.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 

Pakistan’s enterprise of modern art faced resistance when it tried to enter the mainstream cultural discourse and challenge established principles of ‘jamaliati zouk’ or aesthetic conventions. Chuqhtai (Figure) and

Allah Baksh