LAHORE: Muhammad Azhar Hafeez is a multitalented photographer who has a 32-year journey of camera clicks. He is also a graphic designer, an actor, a columnist and a documentary maker.
Hafeez is a passionate soul whose roving eye loves to explore nature, people, places, monuments and faces. His camera is considered a dream harvester which brings into light people, places, monuments, dreamy foggy jungles, rivers, mountains, lakes, sunsets and sunrises.
Speaking to Dawn about his exhibition of photographs at Hamail Art Gallery, his 10th solo, the artist shared his three-decade journey of photographic career, though he humbly says he is still a learner in the field of lens and light.
Hafeez hails from Faisalabad and had his degree in Graphic Design from the National College of Arts in 1993, specialising in photography as a major subject. He is currently serving as Deputy Controller Graphic Designs, PTV Headquarters, Islamabad. Hafeez is also an actor who did theatre with the likes of Ajoka and NCA Dramatic Society. He writes columns and also produces documentaries.
Azhar Hafeez’s exhibition opens
Since his childhood when he was in sixth grade he was fond of photography and this fondness led him to buy a Kodak camera as a beginner. It was 1990 when he embarked upon professional photography. In 1991, he exhibited his first solo exhibition at Hunerkada, Islamabad, and later put on display his solo photographic shows at art galleries.
Asked about his fresh body of works, Hafeez said the exhibition would feature 400 or so photographs and the careful selection had been done from his 32-year journey of being a professional photographer. “Many of the photographs have been sold out prior to the exhibition, the price range of the works on display is from Rs2,000 to Rs10,000. I have only charged the basic amount of print, frame and gallery commission so that my photographs can be accessed easily by photograph admirers.”
Hafeez has participated in a hundred or so group shows not only in Pakistan but internationally; his exhibitions were also held in China and Japan. “I think photography should be recognised as an art parallel to painting because it is also an art of great substance,” said Hafeez, adding that “there is not even a single gallery in the country which is dedicated to photographs and where works of photographers of Pakistan can be displayed.”
Hafeez who has captured almost the entire country through his camera lens says he wants people to develop a taste for good photographs; a portrait of an old man tells stories of many decades if one has an eye to explore it.
“I wish to hold a road exhibition putting on display thousands of photographs turning into a big festival,” said an excited Hafeez, “so that the art of photography can be given identity and its due prestige.”
Hafeez is inspired by many photographers and holds the late Azhar Jaffri and Rahat Dar in high esteem. He wants to sell his photographs at subsidised prices so that many offices and houses can have his works on display.
“I went through a difficult time when I had a liver surgery and got transplanted liver which is donated by daughter Alizay Azhar. The city from where I started my professional photography career is where I have started a new life,” Hafeez said while sharing his love for Lahore.
EXHIBITION: The exhibition of photographs by Azhar Hafeez opened on Wednesday.
The event titled, ‘A Thousand Words’ was attended by artists, intellectuals and photography lovers after it was inaugurated by Hafeez’s elder sister and daughter. Prominent among them were veteran artist Saeed Akhtar, Amna Pataudi, Atif Khan of the National College of Arts, Ayesha Shahnawaz, and R.M Naeem.
The portraits of old people were noticeable because of the natural expressions the faces wear. The photographs of historical places, important buildings and misty foggy fields presented a glittering panorama.
Artist Amna Pataudi was all praise for the exhibition which “shows the very skill of the photographer and the diversity his photographs has”.
R.M Naeem also lauded the collection saying the originality of photographs and the way the artist has explored people and places is just wonderful.
Saeed Akhtar said Azhar Hafeez had put on display a good exhibition.
The exhibition will continue till May 14.
Published in Dawn, May 12th, 2022