n June 30, 1930, Sadequain (1930-1987) would have been ninety-two years old this year.
Art and culture are the identity of a nation. From all points of view, Sadequain was the best ambassador of national identity. It represented a confluence of traditions initiated by Picasso, Michelangelo, Omar Khayyam and Yakoot, the calligrapher. His work was innovative and difficult to replicate.
Sadequain was a polymath and recognized on five continents even before the advent of social media or television. A Khaleej times The June 20, 1980 article describes him as a mystical artist from Pakistan “who became a legend in his time” and was “endowed with divine inspiration”.
Sadequain is the only Pakistani to have received four arts awards namely Nishan-i-Imtiaz, Sitara-i-Imtiaz, Tamgha-i-Imtiaz and Pride of Performance. He was a celebrity during his lifetime. In a December 2009 article in a Pakistani newspaper, a prominent artistic figure reportedly said that after a few decades or so, few people (in Pakistan) would remember Sadequain because by then all traces of his work would be erased. It sounds like a harsh statement about Sadequain, but it’s actually a commentary on the state of affairs in the country.
Fortunately, Sadequain left behind him a vast work spread all over the world. Even if a fraction of it is diligently preserved, it will be more than most artists’ life work. His monumental murals are unprecedented. Sadequain painted over 45 murals from the 1950s through the 1980s. The murals are his tributes to scholars, writers, scientists, and hard-working men and women in a society. Its famous characters are not kings and queens, rich or powerful, but visionaries and workers.
Some of Sadequain’s greatest murals adorn the State Bank of Pakistan Museum, the Mangla Dam Power Station, the main entrance hall of Lahore Museum and its Islamic Gallery, Punjab University, the Punjab Public Library, Frere Hall ceiling in Karachi, Aligarh Muslim University in India, Urdu Ghar in Hyderabad, India, Banaras Hindu University in India, National Geophysical Research Institute of India and Abu Dhabi Power Plant. Placed in tandem, his work at the Hamdard Research Institute of Islamic Studies in Delhi alone will span 700 feet; placed side by side, they will cover over 3,000 square feet.
Sadequain’s paintings based on the poetry of Ghalib, Iqbal and Faiz represent a confluence of the most extraordinary talent in Urdu arts and literature. These masterpieces are one of the cornerstones of his portfolio. They represent an exalted state that transcends both artist and viewer. The extraordinary collection of over 100 interpretive paintings and two large murals based on the visions of the greatest poets of the Urdu language remind us that resisting the lure of material trappings can elevate humanity to an exalted state. This set of paintings constitutes a singular achievement by an artist.
Sadequain was not a painter of objects; he was a painter of ideas. His paintings reflected his own words when he said, “People ask me why I don’t paint flowers, butterflies and landscapes. I tell them that I seek the truth; I’m after reality. I’m not inspired by someone posing against a backdrop of roses in a vase or pink curtains. What inspires me is a person who has been hungry for hours and who is struggling to survive. The expression that lights up his face at the end of the day when he finally finds crumbs is what touches me. I am a painter of the expression of reality.
Insofar as art imitates life, its relationship with society defines the forms par excellence of human existence. These are the forms that Sadequain explored. In practice, Sadequain’s compositions played magically with the complexity of a well-orchestrated symphony. They represented the poetry of color, the harmony of rhythm and the power of a storm. french newspaper The world wrote in April 1964: “The multiplicity of Sadequain’s gifts recalls Picasso. The newspaper recognized Sadequain’s multidimensional genius.
Even a quick look at Sadequain’s palette alerts him to his immense talent. Contemplating its extraordinary images, we are transported to the heart of our subliminal state. The visual journey through a blissful odyssey is a pure experience of heightened awareness as our senses process these mystical images.
Her portfolio spanning Impressionism, Realism, Surrealism, Modernism, Symbolism, Calligraphy and Poetry explores the relationship between art and life. The basic human instinct is to achieve harmony, balance and rhythm through universal communication. Man’s communication with his fellow man and with the environment is at the heart of all artistic and literary endeavors. All artistic endeavors are therefore a reflection of the truth about life. If we posit that life is for the purpose of seeking knowledge, self-development, and opening the way for creative pursuits in the service of humanity, then all arts and literature must serve this purpose in some way. or another.
A self-proclaimed mystic, Sadequain was above all about worldly pageantry and the lure of gain. He never accepted money for his work except in terms of commissioned work. He died penniless. It was what he had always wanted. A newspaper in the United Arab Emirates lamented in its publication of October 26, 1974: “His exhibition in Abu Dhabi was seen by many people and most of the visitors who inspected his works wanted to buy them. But the exhibits are not for sale, he told them.
The writer is the founder of the Sadequain Foundation, USA