Mohammad Kazim, a reputed printmaker, has come up with his latest Indus Valley reliefs, an extension of his previous work, which he had exhibited last year, turning, of course his old monochromatic handling into a subtle painterly version, yet retaining the mystery of "brown log" to borrow T S Eliot's phrase.
Reminiscent of Moenjodaro artifacts his images and forms, despite their decorative overtones, remain part of the historic excavations, carrying their “fossils and fungi” laden existence with ancient dignity.
Kazim has recently been awarded a 2 month residency in Chicago under an exchange programme in recognition of his achievements in relief work, by the Chicago Artists International. Kazim has already participated in various international exhibitions in Hong Kong, Japan, Poland, Norway, and Spain and has won a Bronze Medal at the 6th National Exhibition held in 1994.
Mashkoor Raza graduated from Karachi School of Arts in 1972, standing first, in the first division, and winning a Gold Medal. During these last 20 years or so, he has figured prominently in the art world of Pakistan not only because he is one of the most prolific of our artists but because he has acheieved that rare distinction of developing an original style.
However, from the begining, his work was more painterly, more roughly brushed in and more richly coloured. He seemed to avoid the meticulousness and perfect finish of Rahi and to opt for greater freedom and emotional fervour. Even till 1980 he had not found his fully mature style but was towards it. In the work which he exhibited in a solo exhibition dring June 1980, he was painting what looked like piles of rough round stones, closely bunched together, with some bigger slabs or blocks, square or oblong, above and below them, and plain spaces in the surrounding picture area. Each stony form in the central bunch was light coloured in a dark setting, while the larger slabs tht flared out from this central nexus were in pale colours, through their edges also were dark. They faded out into the surrounding space of the picture area.
By 1991, he was freely turning out paintings of horses in all conceivable positions, running, rearing, prancing and so on. To some extent, he subjects the form to abstruction but even then there are enough apt and realistic touches to please the eye. The swift sweeping strokes of the drawing and the vigorously brushed in colours give the work a marked emotive quality in keeping with the exciting subject. The free use of rich reds, dark blues and deep purples heightens the drama of the noble animal in action.
Sardar Mohammad has been painting from the early 40's and has developed a style of his own. He is primarly a commercial artist and therefore both the subjects and the style of his paintings are strongly influenced by his training. He paints subjects that have a tourist appeal and his paintings are often used for calenders. These subjects are very traditional and they show culture in the sense of show business. He has also painted a number of scenes of Khattak dancing, tent pegging, camel racing, horses dancing to the beatof the drum, and so on.
More of "culture" is thrown in by prominently including in these pictures traditional printed fabrics or embroidered cloths streaming down the back of camels or covering the head and trailing behind village damsels. Sometimes, the face is only a very small part of the picture and lightly executed, often in profile, which all labour is spent on decorating the big head scarf billowing on and behind the village maiden.
Bashir Mirza emerged in the Art world with a solo exhibition of angry drawings voicing protest against oppressors. The show was held in June 1963, at Karachi, at the residence of the Nigerian ambassador. The drawings were done with thick black and red markers and showed grimacing, gesticulating figures with strong contrasts of black and white. The good understanding of figure drawing and the ability to blend it in all shapes and also to show strong emotions through facial expressions and dark shading, did not fail to impress the public.
After a couple of years of wandering in Germany he came back and put up in Dec 71 an exhibition of Paintings he called "The lonely Girl series". They were square compositions in which a female figure was shown almost in outline, like a cutout, painted flat in deep rich green or blue or brown, with just a little modelling of the limbs and shading at the edges. The well formed female figure was in some cases nude and in others very scantily covered. Not so impressive but different and distinctive in their own way was the next series that he did in 1978, called the Flower Girls Series.
The December,1989 exhibition he called "Homeage to Souza", who had held an exhibition at Karachi in Jan, 1989. Fascinated by the famous Indian artist, he threw realism overboard and though he did not distort, he indulged in exageration to the extent of grotesquences in some cases. Perhaps it was the swiftness and impetuosity imposed by the quick - drying medium of acrylic paint or was it the exhibitionism motivated by the desire to prove the sap of artistic creativity had not dried in his veins during the 17 years that he had been almost inactive as an artist( from the 1972 exhibition he entitled "Songs in colour" to the early 1989 exhibition he called "People of Pakistan". Whatever the reason, he became bold and brash with a vengeance, using a very thick brush to paint the face roughly and ruggedly in a number of straight and swift strokes that demolished all gentle curves.
Muna Siddique has chosen the impressionist approach. Her eye travel over the flowers glacingly and she records her impression artlessly. She uses a spotty, sketchy manner of rendering the subject. It is a short hand of her own . This was her water colours. Her oils are more compact and continuous but again, not detailed. Water colours allows light, impulsive and improvised treatment. The composition in her oils is more well-knit and satisfying.
You may call it originality trapped in traditional romanticism. His paintings appear posterish, pure colours dominate in bold and unconventional looking forms freely used in some works developed into well balanced compositions.His sense of colour is quite distinctly sound and simple to the extent of giving the impression that he knows how to handle colours in meaningful ways. Meerza says he wants to use Pakistani symbols like arches, minarets, regional colours and patterns in his work.
Mansur Rahi is the leading abstractionist painter of Pakistan and his teaching and influence have led to the emergence of a larger number of prominent artists than any other teacher artist. When he came to Karachi in 1963, soon after graduating from the Arts college at Dacca, he was still doing water colour painting in a light impressionist style. The landscapes were more carefree and the potraits more careful, because the latter demanded more correctness of detail but both had that easy spontaneity and casualness combined with sureness of hand which is the charm of the water colour medium.
From 1969, his style changed, though it was evolving in the same direction. The heavy thematic content, the philosophical ideas and the tragic feelins were greatly reduced though they did not quite vanish from his work because they were a part of his mental makeup. However, the emphasis now on emulating the stylistic achievements of the Cubists. it was earlier work of Picasso and barque, which is often called analytical Cubism, that attracted him first.
He drew and painted the figures with anatomical accuracy but the leading lines of each area were picked out and emphasised by being rendered geometrically and not realistically.
Those who have watched Mansur Aye blossom out as a leading painter of Pakistan during the last quarter of a century, find his versatility and innovativeness absolutely dazzling.
Of course his main reputation rests on his oil paintings of the youthful innocent faces of teenage girls with lowered eyes standing against the background of the full moon, in an atmosphere of music and flowers, but he has also painted hundreds of water colours sketches of life in the interior of Sind and sketches in charcoal and pen and ink, besides mural paintings and book illustrations and animated cartoon films for the TV and much more. Flowers, music of the flute and moonlight helped to emphasize the atmosphere of oriental peace and tranquillity. There was no sign of bitterness or turmoil in his work. He was never purely abstract. His lines were always in rhythymic curves, springy, bouncing lines and arts, applied with gusto. His paintings could be called romantic but there was no voluptuousness in his female forms and no axaggerated dramatic colour effects. It was a serene and sober kind of art. Some have compared him to the German expressionists but this is very inapt because there is neither any trace of rebellion nor disillusionment in his work, though there is a certain abandon and lyrical spontaneity in all that he paints.