LAHORE: Legendary landscape artist Khalid Iqbal died here on Thursday after a long illness. He was 85.

After word about his death got around, a number of art luminaries went to his residence in Model Town to attend his funeral. Among them were his pupils like Zulqarnain Haider, Shahid Jalal, Dr Ajaz Anwar, Nayyar Ali Dada and Saeed Akhtar.

According to the family he was suffering from pneumonia and was admitted to Ittefaq Hospital four days ago after complications. He died at his home around 4am on Thursday.

Khalid Iqbal was born on June 23, 1929, at Simla, India. He did his O levels from St Joseph’s Academy, Dehradun, India. In 1948 he took art classes from Sheikh Ahmed, husband of eminent artist Ana Molka Ahmed.

Mr Iqbal earned his bachelor’s degree from Forman Christian College in 1949. In 1952, he did a diploma in French from the Oriental College, Lahore and then joined Aitchison College as an art teacher.

But the same year he left for England to study fine arts at the Slade School of Arts, University of London. In 1956, he joined the Fine Arts Department of Punjab University as a lecturer.

The government conferred the Pride of Performance award on him in 1980. To many of his friends and art professors, he was a teacher of teachers.

His students paid him rich tributes while talking to Dawn after his funeral. Zulqarnain Haider shed his media shyness for once and lavished praise on the artist, calling him “my mentor, my guru”.

Mr Haider said there was hardly a day over the past fifty years when he did not meet Iqbal. “ Pakistan was fortunate enough to have such an artist. He was a caring teacher as well and gave individual attention to each of his pupils.”

Dr Ajaz Anwar, an internationally acclaimed water colourist and a student of Khalid Iqbal, said he was the best art teacher he had ever seen. “He used to closely watch the work of his students and would then offer masterly advice.”

There was yet another side of his personality, according to Dr Anwar. “Khalid Iqbal was generous in extending financial assistance to deserving students.”

He was instrumental in founding the Punjab Artists Association. He also reluctantly accepted the charge of NCA principal after the removal of Shakir Ali. Khalid Iqbal was an accomplished portrait painter. His forte was in portraying the sitter as a normal person rather than as a strange being.

In landscape painting, he would choose familiar subjects and then proceed to touch them up.
He had a knack for bringing out the extraordinary out of the ordinary.

Saeed Akhtar, another eminent painter and student of the late maestro, said Khalid Iqbal, Ana Molka Ahmed and Collin David were virtually the three pillars of the country’s fine art scene.

Athar Tahir, another student, recalled that he first met Khalid Iqbal at Lahore Arts Council way back in 1956 while he was taking sketching classes there.

Mustansar Hussain Tarar said his friendship with Khalid Iqbal went back 32 years. “Iqbal was fond of my travelogues on Pakistan’s north. The way he painted Punjab’s landscape was simply matchless.”

The Punjab Council of Arts held a condolence meeting on Thursday where speakers recalled the times spent with Khalid Iqbal, describing him as a perfectionist and a dedicated teacher.

A number of prominent figures attended Iqbal’s funeral. Among them were Shahid Jalal, Nayyar Ali Dada, Ghulam Mustafa, Naeem Tahir, Saeed Akhtar, Dr Ajaz Anwar and Mustansar Hussain Tarar. He was laid to rest at a graveyard in Model Town. Qul will be held at his residence, 108 F Block Model Town, on Friday.

Published in Dawn, June 20th, 2014