ISLAMABAD: The calligraphic work by noted artist Jamil Naqsh put on display in Tanzara Gallery is a celebration of the beauty of language through strokes of brilliance. His artwork transcends contemporary boundaries and continues to resonate with audiences across generations.

The retrospective show of over 100 artworks but also provides an immersive experience. The hybrid form of art that Naqsh developed, combining traditional miniature style with a contemporary abstract approach, is a distinctive contribution to his oeuvre.

Naqsh is well known for sensual figurative work, calligraphic paintings, and drawings. Described as a “Painters Painter” he worked on various themes, but women, horses, and pigeons were his favourite themes.

The show, titled: ‘Modern Manuscript’, organised by Tanzara Gallery in collaboration with Jamil Naqsh Museum, was unveiled on Thursday (Nov 30) by Minister for National Heritage and Culture Syed Jamal Shah, who is also an established sculptor, and painter in his own right.

In his brief speech, Mr Shah commended Naqsh’s deep connection with tradition and his understanding of the region’s history of art as he was intimately aware of the oldest civilizations.

“He was an amazing visionary artist with beautiful ideas, skills, and depth of knowledge. His understanding of colour, lines, spaces, shapes, and texture was unmatched,” he said.

Earlier, Noshi Qadir, the curator and owner of Tanzara, in her welcome speech, acknowledged the minister’s unwavering support and commitment to the cause of promotion of arts and nurturing cultural expressions.

She emphasised the timeless artistry of Naqsh, describing the exhibition as a testament to the artist’s profound journey through modern calligraphy.

Ms Noshi reminded the audience of the challenges and conflicts persisting in various parts of the world, particularly the sufferings of the Palestinian people in Gaza.

Naqsh belongs to a generation of artists such as Sadequain, Bashir Mirza, Ahmed Pervez, Shahid Sajjad, and Masud Kohari, who gave identity and direction to Pakistani art.

The artist’s son, Cezanne Naqsh, reflected on his father’s genius, work ethic, and wide-ranging interests in literature and various subjects.

Every artist desires their legacy to endure through time and their name becomes eternally embedded in the historical narrative of art.

Talking to Dawn, Cezanne said his father was very clear about his journey. He alienated himself from all frivolity and immersed himself in his work.

“What I remember of his persona was that he would always hold brush and book in his hand. He would work 18 hours daily even in his late 70s. His life would revolve around his studio.”

My father was also an avid reader of literature enriching his understanding of society, art, and human relations. That’s why his pictorial vocabulary is very wide and updated.

He was a curious mind, who always remained connected with the diversity of the land. His visual vocabulary, and understanding of nature, society, and his surroundings was very deep and updated, Mr Cezanne said.

Shamim Ahmed, former chairman FBR and author shared his long association with Naqsh since 1966 and said he found him an upright and humble person who never cared for materialistic gains.

Born in Kairana, Uttar Pradesh in 1939, Jamil Naqsh, left for Pakistan at the time of Partition, in 1947, at the age of eight accompanied by his older brothers while his father remained behind.

In 1954, Naqsh briefly joined the National College of Arts in Lahore. However, he left NCA after a year to become student of miniaturist Ustad Mohammad Sharif. A year later, he moved to Karachi.

He was trained both as a Western-style painter and as a practitioner of traditional Mughal-style painting and calligraphy. Naqsh passed away in London on the 16th of May 2019 after a brief illness. He was awarded the Pride of Performance Award and Sitara-i-Imtiaz.

The recognition of Naqsh’s genius, and the beauty of his artistic creations underscores the importance of celebrating the enduring legacy of artists whose contributions have left a significant mark on the cultural and artistic landscape of Pakistan.

The show will continue until December 30th from Monday to Saturday from 11am to 7pm.

Published in Dawn, December 2nd, 2023

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