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Homage: Tribute to a teacher

June 16, 2012

Zubeda Javed, an eminent artist and former professor of fine arts at the University of the Punjab, where she had also once been a student, was recently honoured by her alma mater at a special function organised to pay tribute to her contribution as an artist and art educationist.

The occasion was marked by a series of presentations on her life and work, by eminent individuals including architect Nayyar Dada, artists Shahnawaz Zaidi, Quddus Mirza, Nadeem Alam and Dr Khalid Mahmud. It was an occasion that imbued the audience with a sense of inspiration, not only with regards to the veteran artist being honoured, but also because of a wonderful tradition being set by the Punjab University’s College of Art and Design to acknowledge the contribution of its old teachers in their lifetime, for which all the credit goes to the incumbent principal Rabat Masud, as well as her faculty members.

Amongst the latter, Shahnaz Akhtar played a special role as coordinator, successfully urging many people to attend the function.

One had witnessed Javed’s work earlier on in a few group shows in Lahore, but the full impact of her creative style and ethos finally came through after seeing a sizeable collection of her paintings that were displayed at the aforementioned occasion. The Anna Molka Gallery of the University of the Punjab was set alight with the colourful oil paintings of Javed, including both old and relatively recent work. Due to her age and failing health, she has been unable to paint for a while now, so this collection was particularly valuable and worth viewing and cherishing.

The genre of landscape and cityscape painting has always been a popular one, but in Lahore especially, the more realistic versions are created. However, Javed since long has been known for her individualistic rendering of these, working on her own terms and with her own aesthetic preferences. Her landscapes and cityscapes are not just a recording of what she sees, but an expression of her inner moods as well.

Primarily a colourist, she has imbued her canvases with the style of the Impressionists in terms of colour application, as well as the Expressionists, in terms of feelings evoked.

Her earlier work displays a preference for applying the paint in a thick impasto style, while the later canvases are created by relatively thinner layers of paint and loose, bold strokes of colour. More often than not, bright hues are tempered by deep and dark ones, so that at times both exuberance and deep pathos are found in a unique amalgam.

The quintessential artistic temperament, wherein joy emanates from the sensitive perception of beauty in ones surroundings, and equally deep forebodings emerge from intuitive processes in the mind, are particularly apparent in Javed’s canvases. In fact, these could well be called ‘inner landscapes’, which often have more to do with inner hopes and feelings rather than the immediate environment. So while paintings such as, ‘Homeward bound’ or ‘Hilly area’ may be based on inspiration from what the artist saw, and then rendered in her own style, others like ‘Freedom’ or ‘Hope’ seem to be primarily a rendition of inner visions and an expressionistic-cum-symbolic approach.

The exhibition of Javed’s past and present works presented a wholesome retrospective of the veteran artist’s contribution to the visual arts.

The occasion also reiterated her exemplary dedication as an art teacher; for many of her students, now accomplished artists themselves were of the opinion that their work, rather than her own, had always given her the greatest pleasure.