KARACHI: It is not always easy to go down memory lane to pay tribute to someone dear who has just passed away, especially if that someone is an artist of high merit.
This is what happened with some of the friends and colleagues of sculptor Shahid Sajjad, who died on July 28, when they tried to highlight his achievements in art and his exemplary lifestyle at an event held at the Arts Council of Pakistan here on Saturday evening.
Critic Marjorie Husain said she had known Shahid Sajjad since the 1960s. He was a self-possessed man and everyone was fond of him. “He was a genius,” she remarked. She told the audience, who had gathered in a decent number, about his fondness for wood carving, especially following his return from East Pakistan; after that he wanted to do bronze. She also touched upon the mural that he made about the history of the cavalry displayed at Nowshera.
Also read: Sculptor Shahid Sajjad passes away
Former principal of the National College of Arts Nazish Ataullah reminisced about the time when Shahid Sajjad was in Lahore and hung around with celebrities such as Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Shakir Ali and Intizar Husain.
She mentioned an interesting fact: Sajjad was a very close friend of another great artist Zahoorul Akhlaq, and as Sajjad, Akhlaq also died on Monday, and a day before Eid. She said Sajjad was a rare artist who at one stage in his life decided that he would not do a job and rather lead the life of a professional artist. It led him to turn down a Pride of Performance award.
Former editor of Dawn Saleem Asmi talked about the time when noted journalist Nisar Usmani had just passed away. The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan decided to institute an award to be presented to courageous journalists. He (Asmi) was assigned the task to get someone to design the award. He went to Shahid Sajjad and the artist designed a beautiful trophy. Razia Bhatti was the first one to get that trophy.
Artist Noorjehan Bilgrami, who was teary-eyed, refreshed the memory of Ali Imam’s gallery where artists, poets and writers assembled. Sajjad was one of them. She said everyone knew that he was one of the founding members of the Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture but not many knew that he suggested the name for the school. He wanted an institute modelled on Shantiniketan where students could learn art under a tree.
Shahid Sajjad’s son Ibn-i-Sajjad read out an interesting paper.
He said his father was an ordinary man with extraordinary views. J. Krishnamurti was the single-most influence on him. He didn’t like the word ‘teaching’ and considered it a ‘reflection of conditioning’. Conditioned responses originated from memory. Observation was most important because observation could only be in the present. “All is life and life is now,” he said quoting his father.
Nahid Raza, Ghazi Salahuddin, Qudsia Nisar, Abdul Jabbar Gul, Rumana Husain and Naushaba Burney also spoke. Ahmed Shah conducted the event.
Published in Dawn, August 3rd , 2014