Rabia Zuberi
Rabia Zuberi

KARACHI: Renowned sculptor, painter and founder of the first private art school in the country, Karachi School of Art (KSA), Rabia Zuberi was laid to rest in the Paposhnagar graveyard on Monday.

Her funeral prayers were held at Askari IV Masjid after Zohr prayers.

Ms Zuberi was born in Kanpur, UP, India in 1940. After graduating from the Aligarh Muslim University, she and her sister Hajra Mansoor went to the Lucknow College of Arts and Crafts. Her family left India for Pakistan in 1961 and a couple of years later the two sisters joined their family in Karachi where they established, in 1965, Mina Art School, named after their father Anis Mustafa Mina Zuberi. It was subsequently renamed Karachi School of Art.

Ms Zuberi is often referred to as the first woman sculptor of Pakistan. There are many great sculptures to her credit, one of which is a seven-piece work called ‘Peace Message from the Progressive World’ which is part the National Art Gallery Islamabad’s collection.

She also did quite a bit of work commissioned to her by the government of Pakistan. In terms of content, a major change occurred in her work when in the 1970s she began to examine the human anatomy through her sculptures. In the 1980s, the focus shifted to gender issues and in the ‘90s the city of Karachi’s socio-political turmoil resulted in a series called ‘Quest for Peace’.

Talking to Dawn, writer and painter Anwar Maqsood said, “She was a brave woman. Everyone talks about the Indus Valley and NCA, but no one talks about Karachi School of Art. She gave a big number of prominent artists to the country. She used to work tirelessly to keep [her school] going. I also liked her sculptures. There was honesty in her work which is a great virtue for a painter or sculptor to have.”

Painter Tanweer Farooqi said, “Rabia aapa was every artist’s aapa [elder sister]. Her contribution to promoting art in the country is noteworthy, but she did especially a lot for Karachi. The institute that she established in the city produced renowned painters. It was a gift for the city. She was so involved in her work for the Karachi School of Art that her sculpting took a back seat.”

Ms Zuberi was also the recipient of the President’s Pride of Performance award.

Published in Dawn, January 18th, 2022

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