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Recently an important art book was launched at the Alhamra Cultural Centre, Lahore and a number of interesting celebrants spoke on the occasion. In the definitive biography of Mian Ijaz ul Hasan, the author Professor Dr Musarrat Hasan, describes the life and times of the distinguished man of the arts as an educationist, artist and political activist.

For five decades the professor has shared the artist’s life. They met in her student days at the Punjab University when he was an undergraduate art student as well as studying for his masters’ degree in English in 1958.

Ijaz had begun his art vocation at Aitcheson College, Lahore, where he was mentored by Khalid Iqbal and Moyene Najmi, and during those years he was the winner of annual college art prizes.

In England Ijaz read language and literature at Cambridge University, returning to Lahore in 1965. There he found that Professor Shakir Ali had been appointed as principal of the National College of Arts, Lahore and he was intent on building a faculty that would initiate vitality and a modern vision. Shakir Sahib persuaded Ijaz to head the newly established academic department and as the author explains, “The offer excited Ijaz’s academic and artistic interests and he accepted the offer and began painting again.”

Shakir Sahib stated that Ijaz has a sound background of all human activity — in literature and in painting.

Ijaz ul Hasan: Five Decades of Painting, traces a historic journey that strongly influenced art and culture in the country. He is an artist who painted his view of his times and was prepared to suffer the consequences. The author reveals the strong emotions and inspiration of the artist’s oeuvre. Here one learns that the beautiful garden landscapes as seen from an interior view that one enjoys, were actually envisioned during his incarceration behind bars during the ’70s.

For many years Ijaz has been and remains a tremendous influence on the development of art in the country. The role he has played for over two decades as chairman of the ‘Artists Association of the Punjab’, has annually offered artists from all regions of the country the opportunity to show their work to a wide audience and many have gone on to earn national recognition. Introducing the country’s artists further afield he authored a book published in 1990 titled, Painting in Pakistan.

Ijaz Sahib’s artworks have been truly recognised by way of awards and accolades. The author reveals how the artist has painted constantly and produced work that is included in prestigious collections globally and through this biography Professor Dr Musarrat traces history for future generations to learn from.

The book that contains 250 stunning illustrations combines the outstanding talents of Musarrat, a distinguished author, art historian and educationist, and her formidable husband Ijaz.

One must acknowledge with thanks the vital role played by Lahore Art Gallery who published the book, and Topical who did a splendid job of printing. The book will be launched in the coming months in Karachi to coincide with an exhibition of the artist’s work, an event to anticipate with pleasure.