Art fiend: Pushing traditional boundaries

Published April 24, 2016
Confrontation 1
Confrontation 1

The trending desire of contemporary artists to push the boundaries of modern miniature painting continues to expand the genre by adding newer concepts, depictions and physical ingredients. On a similar note, Ejaz Saeed’s exhibition of paintings, titled Fusing myself, held recently at the Artscene Gallery, Karachi, also brings along a variety of new techniques that further enrich this evolving discipline of traditional art.

The collection of 23 gouache on wasli paintings markedly confirms a quantum leap in technique; owing to the artist’s unusual approach towards composition, application and medium. His extraordinary processes deployed on wasli, are apparently customised to the perception and concept of the artist, which is obvious from the paintings’ meaningful impact. The expressive juxtaposition of human anatomy with a variety of symbols and objects, makes it easy to understand Saeed’s vision. Given the specifically chosen subjects, the placement of objects and the ensuing milieu, it can be inferred that the artist is sincerely predisposed to programme dynamics into his compositions.

“I have undertaken extensive experimentation in preparation of the wasli surface, layer by layer, to achieve the special textures,” says the artist. He also undertakes multiple washes before embarking upon the final meticulous brush work in pardakht to instil impressive modelling into the human figures.


Ejaz Saeed paints with a passion to identify his work with the changing public scenario, creating contextual canvases that carry distinct messages


Saeed’s understanding of anatomy, particularly his characteristic radiating skin tones under a given light, is indeed remarkable. He uses anatomical segments such as hands and feet to emphasise the need for firm initiative, perseverance and resolve, to stand on one’s own feet.

The usage of specialised laser-etching in some selected areas such as outlining of calligraphic alphabets, particularly in gold leaf, adds a certain splendour to the paintings. In his painting, ‘Confrontation 1’, two bearded men are depicted with raised hands, fingers pointing at each other, gives a message of tolerance under the golden sun that has words of wisdom etched into it. The duct of clouds and blue sky shows purity of the channel through which the two rivals ought to communicate to achieve understanding and harmony. The purposeful working of diverse techniques on wasli makes this painting a cardinal reference amidst the entire range of works.

Absolved 1
Absolved 1

The strong reformative statements, and tangibility of underlying philosophies, that emanate from the paintings, sets Saeed apart from the overly proliferate, and repetitive, contemporary regime. He has always endeavoured to look different, be exclusive and make forthright statements with an innovative attitude, in the art of painting. He depicts the reality of how individuals observe, interpret and conclude, and strongly believes in freedom of thought and action, rather than being servile to the reformative sermons of self-appointed counsellors.

A graduate of the National College of Arts, Lahore, Saeed paints with a passion to identify his work with the changing public scenario, by creating contextual paintings that carry distinct messages. Thus far, his work has been effective in expressing the sensitivities of complex social structures, and behaviour, nevertheless, his persistent innovation, and potential to tackle prevalent psycho-social challenges, predicts promising widespread recognition.

Published in Dawn, Sunday Magazine, April 24th, 2016

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