There are artists in our part of the world who do not crave for popularity and keep working with missionary zeal to create the kind of art that they feel suits their purpose best without caring two hoots about others. Then there are those who always work keeping their viewers/audience in mind (nothing wrong with that either). There is another category: the ones who create art no matter what and sometimes wish, albeit unwittingly, that their effort is recognised.
Zafar Mahmood is one such artist. He is the country’s renowned watercolourist who has also successfully dabbled in other genres. This was the reason that when a three-day exhibition of his works was held at the Arts Council Karachi, along with the launch of two books — Zafar Mahmood, 25 years of an artist and Four artists in watercolour — art lovers and critics thronged to the council to see his artworks and speak about his qualities as an artist.
Though oil-on-canvas pieces made by Mahmood were also on display, his watercolour artworks, understandably so, stood out. The marked aspect of the watercolour exhibits was the serenity that each exuded, yet, at the same time, the landscapes or the sceneries could tell their back-stories too. This was amply evident in those works in which the artist had painted boats and huts. Be it the ‘Destruction of small ships’ series or the ones in which he had come up with scenes from the ‘Bengali Pada’ and ‘Gadani Beach’, all of them had the essential aesthetic element and easily conveyed the message as to what those places meant in our society.
With respect to oil-on-canvas work, the ‘Makli’ series was worth watching. The artist had very nicely painted the architectural grandeur of the historic area. He seems to be fond of the architectural and cultural heritage of Pakistan.
Prior to the opening of the exhibition, during the launch ceremony of the above-mentioned two books presided over by writer Fatima Surraya Bajia, noted art critic Marjorie Husain congratulated Mahmood for exhibiting his paintings and acknowledged the publication of the books, terming them useful for art lovers.