04 October, 2011

Rediscovering the maestro Sadequain

Published in Pakistan Observer (4 Oct. 2011)
Sana Jamal


Islamabad - To relive the legacy of calligraphy art, and rediscover the work of Sadequain, one of the finest painters, a book launching ceremony and exhibition was held in Islamabad on Monday. The grand exhibition was organized by Pakistan National Council of the Arts (PNCA) in collaboration with Sadequain at National Art Gallery. The exhibition can be rightly called a visual treat for the art lovers as this is the second largest display of Sadequain’s magnum opus since his demise in 1987.

The ceremony started with a documentary on Sadequain made by PNCA in 1975. The book launch was followed by a presentation on the life and achievements of Sadequain by Dr. Salman Ahmad, a nephew of Sadequain and President of Sadequain’s Foundation of San Diego, California. The book titled, Mystic Expressions by Sadequain – an odyssey to exaltation with Ghalib, Iqbal, Faiz and Sadequain” has illustrations, which could be taken as interpretations of poetry of these famous poets by Sadequain. The illustrations of Ghalib were done in 1968, of Faiz during the 1970s and ‘80s, and of Iqbal during the 1980s.
The book also includes a comprehensive retrospect of his palette. “This book is the first of its kind, which presents a collection of Sadequain’s illustrations and interpretations based on the selected poetry of Ghalib, Iqbal, and Faiz while symbolizing a confluence of the most extraordinary talent of the art and Urdu literature” remarked Dr. Salman Ahmad.

Experts estimate that the renowned calligrapher produced over 15,000 art pieces but heedlessly lost most of his works. He did not even keep an inventory and the traces of most of his works do not exist. This is why “the Sadequain foundation has been engaged in exhaustive research to locate Sadequain’s murals, paintings, calligraphies, and drawings and to this day, the search continues” told Ahmad.


Dr. Khalid Butt, former director general of PNCA, spoke about Sadequain and his works at the ceremony. He recalled that “with the establishment of Gallery Sadequain in 1981, PNCA became the first state institution to embark on this huge undertaking.” The exhibition speaks high of the institution’s commitment to celebrate and acknowledge the contribution of its celebrities.

The art show is presenting 13 murals on Iqbal poetry, twelve illustrations, oil on canvas giclee prints on Faiz Ahmed Faiz’s poetry and three images showing colossal murals. Particularly remembered for his huge murals and sketches of men and women with modern themes, Sadequain was a master in the fields of writing and painting, who is still remembered as one of the finest painters and calligraphers Pakistan ever produced.

Sadequain was deeply interested in the issues that have challenged the best minds of the human race- the questions about the mysteries of the universe, meaning of life on our planet and beyond, role of human beings in the universe, freedom and self determination, survival and progress, and the fine line between reason and emotion – even in his own poetry he deals with such issues.