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M. Javed believes: ‘Life is incomplete without art’

Versatile artist Muhammad Javed specializes in abstract and semi-abstract art and cubism. He has experimented with bright colors and gradient hues and drawn strong compositions and haunting ideas. In the words of art critic Dr. Aijaz Anwar, he has

“an eye for dividing his picture areas into varying rectangles so as to emphasize and subdue certain elements and make the composition, the subject and his expressions strong enough.”

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Thoughtful and soft-spoken Muhammad Javed is an ardent admirer of Professor Shakir Ali who was his teacher at the National College of Art in Lahore. It was then called the Mayo School of Industrial Art. Professor Mark Ritter Sponenburgh was its principal (the news of Prof. Sponenburgh’s demise in his Sea Rock, Oregon, home in the United States, was published in Pakistan’s newspaper Dawn on December 12, 2012).

When Shakir Ali took his place, Javed got himself attached to him. A man of few words, Shakir Ali was a competent, kind and affectionate teacher. Muhammad Javed recalls,

Early Phase as a Young Artist

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Throughout my studies, he remained my teacher and I learned so much from him. His influence on my work is so much visible even in the earliest period of my professional life. My other teachers, Professor Sponenburg, Professor James Warn and Professor Mary Lewis taught us from 1958 to 1960. The local faculty members Professor Abbas Abidi, Jamila Zaidi, Latif Chaghtai, Niaz Ali Shah, Bashir Ahmad, Ustad Shafi and the miniature painter Haji Mohammad Sharif taught us with much dedication. Professor Shakir Ali had great concern about the placement of students. He was always urging us to improve.

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Recalling his younger days, he says,I have struggled all my life to reach where I am now. It surprises me when I recall the tough circumstances I faced when I entered the field of fine art and explored it. In fact, when I was young, no artist I knew could explain his own art or what the actual thought was that urged him produce a specific piece of art.

Literacy rate in Muhammad Javed’s village, Sheikhupura, was less than one per cent.Hence, there was no one to teach or coach in basic learning, not to speak of Art. Only three boys were there who went to school but none reached the secondary level except me. My family went to urban areas and I was did get more education. The villagers looked at me with awe when I was in class four as I could read and no one else could.

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“I was a simple and innocent kid with a sensitive nature. I would observe and enjoy natural beauty of the fields, trees and plants; flowers, birds and animals; and cultural activities of happy and joyous villagers. When I studied drawing at the high school level, it impressed everyone a lot and I felt that drawing could capture the beauty of the nature. I practiced it according to the tips got from my drawing teacher and enjoyed people around me appreciating it. I was not aware of the correct use of this skill or any study program, which could let me refine my activity. My parents were not happy about this as they wanted me either to enter in to a service or to pursue further education.

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Observing my interest in art, a sympathetic relative in Lahore suggested that my parents send me Lahore to study at an art institution. My father agreed half-heartedly as he could not afford the extra expense. But somehow he managed. At last, I reached Lahore to fulfill my thirst for art. Despite financial problems, my parents gave me all support that they could during my study at the National College of Arts. In those days, NCA provided art material to the students free of cost. Since I was a brilliant student, I also got the scholarship. I also got wrote on certificates in an artistic script for and received one rupee for each certificate. This helped me bridge the financial gap. The life was tough but I learnt so much from it.”

Art and Achievement

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Muhammad Javed remarked In the sixties, an artist would not like to explain his art. He would rather avoid talking about his work, considering that a painting spoke in a visual language of its own. This was necessary to allow the viewers to see and interpret according to their own feelings, which varied from on individual to another. I, myself, experienced this fact when an art lover while looking at one of my painting said oh: you painted my dream, whereas I painted my expressions about an environment with a shady tree in abstraction. Although I explained my point of view, he did not agree. I realized that meaning of a painting could be different in the eyes of different people depending on their knowledge and perception.

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“I would, therefore, simply say that I try to capture those impressions of my surroundings which haunt me due to sensitivity of the issues relating to socio-cultural and physical environment. I paint in my own style using my inner strength and knowledge for the sake of art. There is, of course, versatility in my art as I select different subjects, which attract me at different times. My favorite medium is oil colors and palette knife but I have extensively used other material such as charcoal, pastel and mixed medium.”

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“In 1989, M.I.T. awarded me the Annual Distinguished Artist Award on my contribution of a mural done on a large wooden plank. Similarly, in the end of 2013, a book entitled A Man of the Arts—Muhammad Javed, edited by Dr. Shaukat Mahmood (better known as>“Maxim” cartoonist) was also published by Pakistan Writers Cooperative Society. The book encompassed more than half a century of my work and life and contained views and reviews of prominent art critics and writers. In February 2016, a book entitled Relevance in Art—Fine Art Masters of 21st Century was written by K. Hienz Playner in the German language and published in Austria. In this work, I was one of the 39 artists that were covered. I was the only one who was not from the West.”

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In addition to my paintings, I have done much work to promote appreciation of art and literature through organizing and curating more than 120 art exhibitions displaying young as well as senior artists, and looking after publication work of about 40 prestigious books from the platform of Coopera Art Gallery, Lahore. I have been able to introduce many young artists.A progressive person is never satisfied with self achievement. Such a person always remains in search of better results. For myself, I would say that I have been able to exhibit my work at home and abroad at several occasions and has seven solo shows at my credit. My paintings are also in the private and public collection. I have been receiving appreciation from the art circle especially from the print and electronic media.

My Art Philosophy

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The values of traditions blended with modernism based on the current socio-cultural and economic conditions of the Society provide directions for creating an artwork subconsciously or consciously. It is the experience of such things, which compel the artist to present his emotional expressions in an art form. I consider a society in a wider term, which also includes physical environment, religion, birds, and animals and so on. Whenever anything struck to my mind, I start thinking about its presentation through the elements, which I see and try to evolve concept and composition in symbolic abstraction easily understandable even by a non-professional. I try to communicate some massage, story, or spiritual values as the case may be apart from aesthetics. The decorative element is not my priority as such work falls in another category, which may be close to craft. I try to avoid using of primary or secondary colors directly in the interest to make the painting vibrant. My focus is always on the application of essence of the colors according to the subject matter close to the life.

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“I was born in a family involved in business of a store and agriculture at small scale. My grandfather was a gentleman and his father was a soldier in the British Indian army. We were two brothers and a sister; I was the only one who was an artist. I have two sons; one is a chartered account and the other is a banker. I kept them away from my art because it was very difficult to pull on day-to-day life in those days depending on painting. However, both have fine aesthetics and like paintings. My life partner has given me a lot of support by giving me time for work. I find my grand-kids taking more interest in art assignments and they sometimes give me very useful feedback when I work on paintings.”

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“Childhood is always considered a golden period by every child as he grows up. Each moment of childhood gives pleasure even if ones family is economically unsound. Similarly, I enjoyed my childhood in an area where urban facilities were not available. There was no electricity in my village but greenery and water ponds surrounded it. It was quite stimulating for me. It was thrilling to see buffaloes swim in the ponds and graze in the fields. I still remember green shady trees, pure milk being mulched right from the udders of buffaloes, cows and goats. Youngsters joyfully played games under the watchful eyes of the elderly. My parents wanted me to focus on study. They had financial problems and had a hard time making the ends meet. On the roof of my house I would study for the most part of night under the light of a lantern. Bugs surrounded the light and no one was there to help or guide me. Those days are still so memorable.”

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There are no words for me to explain my joy, which I got from the pets, games and horse rides. An incident of my felling into a watercourse in extreme winters is unforgettable, as I slipped from its bridge and there was no medical aid of any kind except hot milk. My trend towards drawing and painting was very visible at the beginning as I often draw different shapes and lines on the walls and floors with coal and I felt very depressed when my elders asked me to rubout.He recalls when he was a kid himself.I cannot forget to mention about my primary school teacher Khair Din who was also the headmaster. He a friend of my father’s and often paid a visit to him.

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Recalling his art classmates, he says,

Zahoor-ul-Akhlaq, Mahmood Alam and Dilawer Ali were my classmates at the art college. My contemporaries in design department were Bashir Mirza, Ahmad Khan and Mian Salahuddin. Nayar Ali Dada, Iqbal Hassan, Tanveer Ahmad, Abdul Rehman and seven other students were in the architecture department. It is a well-known fact that that most of the students of first batch have reached the highest level in their respective fields and enjoyed much respect.He rambled on,During my studies, Professor Shakir Ali never gave us any idea how to sell the paintings. He always advised us to concentrate on creative work and to create something new. However, the development of the students was such that they were able to handle all type of assignments relating to designing, interior decoration, furniture and even buildings designing, teaching and so on. That is why the students of first batch were very well placed.

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“I succeeded in putting up my first solo show after two years of my study in 1964. The show turned out with very good results as my bosses started giving me much respect. It is true that if you had bright ideas, you had an edge over others. I participated in the national exhibition soon after my graduation; and in group shows too. However, as time passed, my responsibilities grew and it became increasing difficult for me to show up in each art event. But I did engage in doing paintings. My second solo show was held at the American Information Centre, Hyderabad, in 1969. It was highly appreciated. In 1963, Bashir Mirza and Jamil Naqsh were working in the National Advertising whereas I was in the United Advertisers where I worked for only a few months. All three of us met for lunch. Bashir Mirza and I lived in Paposhnagar in Karachi.”

My Favorite Genre and Style

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He continued,My journey in art started with realistic art and then I switched over to abstraction in the early years of my life under the influence of Shakir Ali. Soon I felt that my appreciation and understanding were hampered, I made tremendous experimentation to develop my own style blended with realism, impressionism, cubism and abstraction schools of art.I prefer to work with oil colors and palette knife. Apart from focusing on the main forms, I liked to divide the space in such a way that it would extend strength to the composition and create more interest.I try to paint subjects reflecting natural beauty, poverty and pain. I avoid to paint only decorative elements. Selection of my subject consumes considerable of my time as against the today’s practice.

Art critic Marjorie Hussain says about Muhammad Javed:

“When Javed was at Karachi, he became one of the vanguards of young artists discovering new methods and ideas. He experimented with cubism, creating paintings of gradient subdued hues or in alternate moods, painted brilliant images of bright colour.”

Famous art critic S. Amjad Ali has comments:

“He uses purely abstract forms created with fine sense of design incorporating the alphabets of the name. The transformation of the letters has been brought about in an artistic and pleasing manner. What is important is the painterly quality of handling of colors.”

Dr. Khalid Mahmud says:

“Javed has painted a number of paintings and each one represents a different subject matter and themes of different varieties whereas the approach retains his own individuality which makes him stand distinct as an artist among this community.”

Iftikhar Ahmad Adani says:

“Javed’s work is different. He does not invest his ingenuity in producing designs, nor in evolving patterns…. He is primarily engaged in portraying visions and projecting ideas, ideas which haunt him.”

In the words of Dr. Aijaz Anwar:

“Javed has an eye for dividing his picture areas into varying rectangles so as to emphasize and subdue certain elements and make the composition, the subject and his expressions strong enough.”

Remarks Saira Dar:

“His ‘made on the spot’ authentic renderings are enchanting because of the feeling of a moving firsthand experience being expressed artistically and impressive because of the formal grace inculcated by the technical expertise.”

Dr. Shaukat Mahmood opines:

“His paintings provide us yet another technique. A master painter in this technique was one of my teachers Nasim Hafiz Qazi, but Javed has gone a step further in dry-brush technique.”

Says Abid H. Qureshi:

“Javed’s paintings have beauty of semiabstract style comprising simplification and textural values, which allow the viewers to find out multiple meaning and massages.”

Muhammad Javed himself says:

“My aim of art is to highlight and portray cultural and socio-economic activities of the life and capture beauty of the nature as experienced by me to contribute in the history and to provide useful information in decent visual forms.”

Different Phases of Art Life

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Further, he says,Soon after completion of my studies, I did a series of large sketches with ink and reed pen, using washes for indicating dimension and shadows. After this series, I used oil paints on paper and painted figures in the sixties. In the seventies, I did lots of work on canvas presenting cultural activities such as market scenes and town fairs. In 1981-83, I painted Islamic calligraphy. Afterward, I did extensive work on canvas with palette and knife and oil colors, highlighting different subjects. In 2005, I did considerable work in charcoal during my visit to Cairo, Egypt.

“Similarly, when I got a chance to visit other countries, I tried to capture their physical and cultural environment. It is a fact that both style and perception change with the passage of time and environment, which one can always notice. Last year, I was inspired from the foggy days and traffic problems in Lahore which compelled me to paint. Now I am working on the subject of the law and order situation in this city.”

Treatment of the Art World

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During my phase of experimentation for development of my individual style, there was a mixed reaction. Some people I had known realized that I would be able to achieve my objective of producing something unusual and meaningful. The appreciation from the artist community was, however, minimal as usually happens with creative people – writers, poets, actors, etc. I was lucky to get appreciation from men of letters, especially from a senior civil servant I. A. Khan, known as Iftikhar Ahmad Adni—a Sufic writer. It may be interesting to quote an example of receiving appreciation from a renowned artist.

Emotional account of Art Fairs

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Recalling time he was highly appreciated, Muhammad Javed said,It was a happy moment when Sayyied Qavi Ahmad, Principal, Sindh Government College of Commerce offered me to sponsor an exhibition of my work which I did in a period of more than four years at Hyderabad. He was visiting me off and on with Professor Qaseem Baig Chughtai who was my friend. Both appreciated my work. They were great art lovers and motivators. They organized the exhibition very well at American Information Centre, Hyderabad, in 1969. Media at that time also encouraged me a lot. So much so that Radio Pakistan broadcast my interview. Prior to this solo show was also held at Hyderabad in 1964.
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It was organized by Iftikhar Ahmad Adni and inaugurated by Mumtaz Hassan, a renowned scholar and managing director of National Bank of Pakistan where Faiz Ahmad Faiz, S.M. Waseem, Commissioner of Hyderabad Division and Secretary Al-Hamra Arts Council, Hyderabad, were also present among others art fans. Later, five more solo shows were held at Karachi, Lahore and abroad. Art critics, art lovers and the media appreciated my shows, but my family asked me what I made for them. So, after a month or so, feeling of exhilaration started falling down. It was hard to explain my cheerless sentiments.

“A number of commercial art galleries have sprung up during the last decade but one can feels that artists have been influenced due to demand of artworks with vibrant colors and decorative elements which is reducing the creativity aspect day by day. No doubt the directions of art are rapidly changing not only in Pakistan but also throughout the globe. Most of the works being done consume less time due to shortcuts.”

Old and New Masters

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Since the history of art from the pre-historic age to the twentieth century was taught to the students, the work of old masters such as Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Rembrandt, Paul Cezanne and Pablo Picasso influenced them. I also learned a lot from their works. Likewise, the work of my teacher Professor Shakir Ali greatly influenced me. Shakir Ali did not allow us to see the works of Ustad Allah Bux and Abdul Rehman Chaghtai, perhaps due to the problems in the anatomy of the figures painted by Ustad Allah Bux and extraordinary exaggeration or stylization in the figures painted by Abdul Rehman Chaghtai. Anyways, I enjoyed the colors used by Ustad Allah Bux and continuous thin lines and wash technique of A. R. Chaghtai. However, Shakir Ali liked the work of Zain-ul-Abedeen a Bengali painter, who often visited NCA. Mostly, his art reflected poverty and miserable conditions. Therefore, I too got some influence in selection of the subjects. Although Shakir Ali was not very happy with the work of Sadequain, he was a very special artist who along with presenting the life and myths produced large quantity of work. He said to me in Karachi about two years before he passed away,

‘There was still too much to do but the time is running fast…. I had not painted in acres but in miles.’

Foremost Ambition in Life

Muhammad Javed has painted a Quranic verse ”Am Lil Ansaan-e-Ma Tamna” (Urge of a man never ends) in which he has shown on the right side an image of a fort (the symbol of power) and on the left Taj Mahal (the symbol of death). He thinks it was enough for him that his work is receiving appreciation and he wishes to continue his efforts and contribute in the field of art.

Art Selling and Buying

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He thinks,There was almost no room for sale of the paintings until nineties, after that art market gradually started developing but patronization remained lacking. During 2000 onward, although the emotional and literary approach of the artists affected with the establishment of private commercial galleries but, of course, artists facilitated.However, with cropping up the disturbances in the law and order situation in the country, the graph of sale has fallen down. Similarly, focus on the frame rather than the artwork also spoiled the situation from art point of view. I think an artist should try to satisfy himself. In this way, awareness will take place and people will start buying creative work, which also have great aesthetic value.

Artist Statement

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I try to portray my emotional sentiments about the sensitive issues associated with social, cultural and economic conditions, physical or hidden in the life as I feel. Efforts are made to create due interest with treatment of colors, texture and strokes in layers together with space division to strengthen the composition and beautify of the painting. One can feel the characteristic of my work as symbolic abstractions and simplification of forms, which may help the art audience to understand at a glance. I do not like to indulge in superficial concepts or emotions in the interest of maintaining the reality of the life. My trend towards spiritual activities some time compels me to high light the meaningful work based on the Islamic calligraphy.”

Message to Art Enthusiasts

Says Muhammad Javed to art lovers,

“Art is essential for the life as it provides pleasure, satisfaction and useful information. Although its direction are changing rapidly, but it is necessary to maintain identity as art contribute and document the history especially socio-economic and cultural values of the regions.”

“It is also a fact that any creative activity cannot flourish without due recognition and support, I therefore, wish that the artworks be considered it a very valuable contribution to the history and life.”

—M. Khalid Rahman

Saeed Sarwar Siddiqui: Symphony in art and geometry

It is difficult to imagine what our life would be like if we did not know an inkling of art? It would certainly be dull and dreary, colorless and formless, drab and meaningless. It is the lines and curves that give nature its true form. Natural orbs trace geometrical trajectories as they move along in atomic and subatomic, orbital and galactic paths. Crystals grow inside solutions like arithmetic flowers. They increase and expand, adding angles and planes in an awed and perfect obedience to an absolute geometry that even rocks and gems understood—the law of nature.

Yes, it is the law of nature, the rules of geometry and the principles of chromatography that infused a unique blend of art in the mind of Saeed Sarwar Siddiqui, an artist born and raised in the temperate South Asian subcontinent, rose to the peak of his career in the sizzling Middle East, only to settle in cold outback of Canada. In an interview to IRIS ART MAGAZINE, he claimed that his life has been an example of Vincent Van Gogh’s saying:

“I see more and more that my work goes infinitely better when I am properly fed, and the paints are there, and the studio and all that. But have I set my heart on my work being a success? A thousand times no. I wish I could manage to make you really understand that when you give money to artists, you are yourself doing an artist’s work, and that I only want my pictures to be of such a quality that you will not be too dissatisfied with your work.”

Having finally achieved what he had strived for all his life, Siddiqui now focuses on giving back to nature what he had obtained from it. He lives in a world of lines and curves, forms and shapes, colors and pigments—creatively shaping and rearranging them. He has dedicated his life and effort to producing marvelous art works in multiple forms for the benefit of the poor children all over the world.

Innovating New Styles

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When you look at the various art forms drawn and painted by Siddiqui, you find a new genre of art with a change in form and styles, shapes and colors. With his excellent Abstract Ornamental Imaginative composition art work and as an outstanding fine artist, Siddiqui has been thinking of new concepts of human relation of love and life, abstract paintings, calligraphic art works, realistic sketching, landscaping, pen work and glass and ceramic paintings that would appeal to your aesthetics. Now almost 70, he has more than 50 years of professional experience in fine art and graphic designing.

Realistic and Abstract Pen-work

His favorite instrument to draw realistic and abstract pen-work pictures is the famed Rotring Rapidograph 0.1. Siddiqui’s ‘Native Girl’shows a young Native Canadian warrior girl in the fullest detail of her ethnic war dress. We see her brood besides a gnarled old tree with a couple of tipis in the background under a dark and ominous cloudy sky. His ‘Arab Musician’, ‘Ancient Bazaar’, ‘Tiger’ ‘Charlie’ and ‘Horse Carriage’ are all worth watching closely as you see each fine black line meticulously adding to the overall exquisiteness of each marvelous image. Excellence in pen-work also becomes evident in his fascinating ornamental pictures of the ‘Flying Bird’, and ‘Flowerpot’ and other abstract images.

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Colors Galore

Siddiqui has been painting in oil, water and poster for more than half a century, later adding acrylic to his art mediums. He has mastered all the techniques and invented some of his own to create amazing art work. With an eye for the detail and an exceptional color sense, he commands a remarkable manual control. He has done countless paintings over all these years, from brushwork to airbrush during his career in advertising to calligraphic and ceramic art in later years. With a penchant for using new mediums and with a resolve to command new art techniques, he is always eager to experiment. Glass and ceramic painting and digital work are also his domains to create art.

Digital and Innovative Art

Since he was a young artist, he has been learning and trying new art techniques. At a time when the Agfa Repromaster camera was extensively used in advertising and printing industry, he experimented with new techniques and evolved innovative procedures to create art that no one had ever heard of before. His love for innovation is evident in his non-commercial art too.

An Artistic Soul

The seed of art was sown in his human soul and germinated since before the time he could recall. He begins his story from the year 1956.

“The well maintained lawn of the British Council Library had an eye-catching gathering of about 50 children of 10-12 years of age. I stood by the gate and peeked inside. The kids were all neatly dressed. They were all from good schools. They were working on paper fixed on drawing board. It was all so fascinating, but I could not linger on for long. A sentry shooed me way. I had to leave. But I had liked so much what I saw that I kept going there every day and look at the interesting scene with much interest.

“I was just an inquisitive 12 years old looking curiously at the kids sketching on papers fixed on drawing boards. I stood there and envied them. They were, obviously, from well-to-do families. I wished that I could be one of those kids.

“It was perhaps on the third day that an art instructor noticed me and asked the sentry to let me come in. He asked me why I came there. After a few queries, he handed me a drawing board and pencil, and allowed me to join the group. The children were drawing a marble pillar carved in the Greek style. I, too, drew the figure on paper and colored it.

“At the end of the session, the bell rang. We stopped working. All the drawings were collected and assessed. The art teachers asked each one of us for our own views, and then told us how each of us had done. When my turn came, they appreciated my work and encouraged me to keep on practicing. They had made some corrections to my work and wrote their remarks in English which I could not understand since I did not understand the language. They gave me a box of color pencils and two drawing books–one was to fill in colors while the other book had blank pages to make drawings. Leaving the place that day, I thought it was the biggest achievement in my life. I was extremely happy that day.

“I was so excited that I had a sleepless night. I was looking forward to the next day already. I did not even know whether the class will take place the other day or not. When I went there, the session was going on, and they let me in again.

“I was given a pencil and a board with stand. We were asked to draw a vase with flowers. I began to draw and soon completed the drawing. It was a black and white one, I still remember. Again, the instructor looked at my work and wrote his remarks. I was served a cold beverage but got no gifts that day.

“The second drawing that I made there was that of a live model. It was a little British girl who was wearing a frock and a hat. There was a blue umbrella at her back. She was holding a book. We had an hour to complete the drawing but we were asked to submit the drawing later on. The drawing was to be colored with pencils. The children were from different backgrounds. Some of them were from the British School and others from the high-class Mama Parsi School. All of them were in spotless, well-pressed clothes. I, too, had clean clothes but not as decent as other kids. I never saw those children again.

Rebellious and Mischievous

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“It was the third and the last day when I found out that a competition would be organized but I did not know when. I had an inferiority complex as I was the poorest child and an orphan. My mother would sew clothes to earn a few bucks for sustenance. I lived quite far and had to travel far even to go to school. Under such hardships, I could not continue with my dream of pursuing art or even making it my career, but the thirst to learn it did not die down. I was compelled to take decisions which were more important than learning art. Time flew by. I was known as a rebellious and naughty boy in the family. I recall that we were invited at a party in a rich seaside neighborhood. In mischief, I made brought with me three fake currency notes that I had made and left them on a chair. I had made the drawing exactly like a one-rupee note on the one side and the other side was blank. An uncle was the first one to notice it. He got hold of me and asked me to visit him later. At his place, I was surprised to see the paintings that he had made. He told me never to make a currency notes as it was a crime. To encourage me, he gave me a pen with a sharp edge and a bottle of ink to make drawings,” he said.

Exploring New Horizons

27TTSiddiqui faced many hardships during the course of his budding career in art but he remained steadfast. But nothing turned him away from moving in the right direction. He remained single-mindedly focused on his ambition—achieving perfection in art and discovering new ways and techniques. His focus on earning his daily bread somewhat detracted him from attaining any big marks in fine art during the early phase in his career but he still found time to work in this direction. Working at an advertising agency, for instance, he would fish out unfinished and half done art works from the trash can, take them home and ponder over them and practice copying them. The art director at the advertising agency caught him doing this and allowed him to come to his place after office hours and to help with his own work. He mastered every advanced technique in art and headed art departments of every advertising agency he worked for.

Micro-finished Artwork

gg338888His work stood out amongst the others as his minute finishes and perfect drawings were noticed by the masters in the field, and difficult art assignments such as portraits of the heroes of independence landed in his lap. His artworks received one award after another for excellence. He got one good opportunity after another and soon got a high paying job in the Middle East. First in UAE with Manhattan-Gulf where he handled multinational clients for the first time; and then, after a few years’ stint with Pakistan’s largest advertising agency Orient McCann Ericson, he was invited by Makkah Advertising (now a publishing concern: Makkah Communications) as its creative director where he continues to work even after 24 years.

Rediscovering Himself

Saeed Sarwar Siddiqui is now working in Canada and Saudi Arabia. Despite achieving perfection, he still considers himself a learner, and says,

“Basically, I am a fine artist. I started with drawing faces, and made portraits with pencil and charcoal. I didn’t focus on one thing but expressed versatility. I made human portraits, landscapes and live sketches. I had devoted most of my life to commercial art. I did not have time to do more work in fine art since I was extensively involved in commercial art. I had to make commercial art my soul source of income. But versatility was the key to my success.”

“I made sculptures, glass paintings, ceramic style paintings, abstract paintings and water paintings too. I have a style of my own, and I want to keep my art alive when I am no more here. I am interested in Quranic calligraphy and have started making some paintings based on this specific genre, but I want to do landscapes too.”

“A few years ago, I quit advertising and returned back to fine art, which is my first love. I expressed my love for fine art in June last year (2014) when I held an exhibition in Dhahran Art Group, Armco, Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. It was not to make money but to showcase my work. The art community appreciated my work. My pen work is appreciated everywhere immensely. I have done much pen work but it takes a lot of time and effort.”

“I want to work in Canada in collaboration with prestigious art galleries here. I and my children have decided to make Canada our home and I want to make us proud with art and philanthropist work. So any cooperation from the local art galleries is more than welcome.”

Calligraphic Art

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His artistic calligraphic works have won the hearts of art lovers all over Middle East as well as in other parts of the world. He has been experimenting with Arabic calligraphy for decades and has evolved a new style of his own that is quite different from the traditional one. Apart from making colorful designs and shapes in calligraphy, he has painted so many samples of Quranic calligraphies, and presented them to large audiences in Islamic countries.

Future Plans

In conclusion Siddiqui told me about his future plans: “I have to participate in calligraphic exhibitions across the world. I am preparing for my exhibition in Saudia Arabia. I wish to donate 50-60 per cent of my earnings to welfare organizations for the needy people. I want to participate in Arab League Conference in Canada and elsewhere in the world where I can have a stall t show, discuss and sell my work.”— Khalid Rahman, Art Writer & Editor, IRIS ART MAG (2350 words)

HIGHLIGHT

Siddiqui focuses on giving back to nature what he had obtained from it. He lives in a world of lines and curves, forms and shapes, colors and pigments—creatively shaping and rearranging them. He has dedicated his life and effort to producing marvelous art works in multiple forms for the benefit of the poor children all over the world.

Art is the Witness to our World, Bette Anne claims

Bette Anne Wygant says about her hope and dreams, “My ambition is to be a part of the awakening of humanity. I believe that we can evolve as a species if we could only see the greater reality of this life. No weapons needed here, only love. I want to be here when the world sees the beauty of life around us and celebrates together.”

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She adds, “I have been on a spiritual journey through artistic expression for over forty-eight years now. I remember growing up in Ridgefield, Connecticut, always sketching or painting my impressions of the physical world around me during my childhood. My view of this material world expanded my connection to unseen dimensions after living through the tragic deaths of my father’s plane crash and my brother’s murder. My brother was attending law school where he was shot in the head by someone looking for drug money.”

Bette says,

“Living through this random act of violence, I began to see the energy of our life-force and feel how we are deeply connected to each other and to our Prime Creator. I have explored this intimate cosmic connection with every painting. My mission in this life is to plant the seed of peace and unity through each oil painting. Our physical and spiritual worlds are one. The dogmas and the borders of governments that separate us are only illusions. We are one family in God’s eyes.”

She vehemently recalls a recent visit to Lebanon, “I just returned from a trip to Lebanon where I have discovered other artists who are also using their work to make a positive change in the world around them. “I recall Roula Chreim, a Lebanese artist, who organizes local and international art shows to benefit many charities her community. She does this as a NGO/UN in Beirut.

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“Diala Brisly, a Syrian refugee artist who uses her whimsical illustrations to uplift and enrich the lives of many Syrian children in a weekly magazine that she prints out. Her inspiring pictures of her childhood, that is now lost for many of these children who are living in the darkness and chaos of war. I saw that she painted a mural on one of the school houses in a refugee camp. The painting was of an open book, with dreams coming from the pages to an astronaut in outer space. Her works are a window to a world of possibilities and adventure for so many children who live behind the fence, kept from a physical freedom. The world of imagination can be opened in a painting on a wall.

“Razi Wardh is an artist who has escaped from Syria. He now lives in Beirut, painting his heart out at Art Lab Gallery. The pain of missing his family and friends—all that he has been a witness to—is reflected in his beautiful paintings of flowers that have died. He said that there is a hope of rebirth and new life someday… but the blooms he has painted on his canvas have died now.”

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As an afterthought, she says, “How profound is the artist’s mind and the journey of mourning the precious loss of life and freedom. A painted record in the memory of our cultures.

“Our precious little world hangs in the balance between the forces of Light and darkness. I would implore every artist, writer, musician to reach out to the world around you and inspire the minds, hearts and souls of humanity. We must live in peace and harmony now, or our species will cease to exist.”

Concluding, she says to all the readers of IRIS ART MAGAZINE, “May God be with you in the days ahead.” She has a universal message for the world. “Our precious planet is dying. We are killing each other for reasons that have been forgotten over the generations of hate and injustice. I pray that humanity will get the chance to evolve as children of our Loving God. The time is drawing near when each soul must decide which path will be taken. God willing, we will choose Love and Peace.” M Khalid Rahman

Rafique Sayed feels the flux of each moment

He lives in the thriving city of Mumbai but most of the time he dwells in a different world– acrazy cosmos of light and shadows,of life full of still images,of subliminal beauty and dazzling glamor,of strange forms and baroque shapes.

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I ask him, “Who are you in the true sense?”

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The man behind the camera gives an enigmatic Cheshire Cattish smile while being interviewed by IRIS ART MAGAZINE, and proclaimed: “I am nothing and, as you know, Everything comes out of Nothing.”

Rafique Sayed has a philosophy of the art of light that is so immensely simple that it catches the viewerby surprise. The colors of the spectra of various changing sources of light — the hot sun, the cool moon, the dim and the bright stars change with each passing moment. They are always in a flux. They have to be handled delicately for a master photographer. Besides, there is avast variety of photographic lamps that are used in model and product photography.

But he says this about the light intensity and immenseness, “When taking an image, just keep the light simple for simplicity is the most difficult thing to express through anyform of art.”

“But what is your own chief source of inspiration?” I poke him.

He grins mysteriously, “I muse about the Universe.”

His response leaves me puzzled. I take another step forward, “That is an immense subject. My question was about your source of strength. What art training you have received?And who have been your mentorsin the art journey?”

His enigmatic smile deepens further,

“I have had no training. Frankly. None at all. I have always been fond of reading books and I have learned everything from what I read. Yes, I got attracted to photography and I got inspired from the American photographers Brett Weston, Richard Avedon, and Irving Penn, and the Indian photographers S. Paul, Raghubir Singh. I also got inspiration from the poets Kahlil Gibran, Jalal el-Din Rumi, Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Ahmed Faraz and Pablo Neruda who gave me insight.”

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His favorite genre and style in art is portrait and fashion as well as landscape photography. He has taken lots and lots of photographs under myriad light conditions but he claims to have “not taken my best shot yet. I may not take my best shot till my dying moment.You learn till you breatheyou last. I am changing all the time.In the next moment, Iwould not recall even the moment Ihave lived in now. I am changing every moment.This change is constant.Every morning is a new morning.You don’t see the same sun again.”

He says, “My perception of life changes through the experiences and understandings.I try to live a very meditative life.Less is more to me than more is less.”

How he thinks the art world is treating him, I ask. He says somberly, “The art world is going to treat me the way I am going to treat my work.Ithink I am too ruthless about my work.”

He has been always lucky to have gathered appreciation and gratitude of the viewers and critics in his fairs and exhibitions.”

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He thinks, “Like painting, we should concentrate on selling photo art.It is very popular in the western world of art.We should popularize in Asia Pacific for a start.”

His artist statement is “We don’t create, we discover.”

His personal message to art enthusiasts worldwide is, “Find new eyes! Pictures happen every moment.Increase your awareness.”

Rafique is a very private person and does not want to talk at all about his personal life. But he says about his earliest phase of life as a photographer that he didn’t struggle much.“God has been kind to me,” he added. His foremost ambition in life is “to be a good human being.”— Khalid Rahman

Ufaq Ehsan: A Soul Healer

For Ufaq Ehsan, emotional travails are deeply felt and passionately recorded. She approaches the task of image making but never panders to the notion of illustrating her personal feelings. Her lines, textures and colors collaborate, spreading themselves across the surface-immediate and self-contained. She sifts both calligraphy and organic forms, bringing them together in urgent dynamic collusion.

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Ufaq told IRIS ART MAGAZINE that she considers herself first and foremost a healer, a spiritual being and a teacher. Motherhood, meditation, literature, music, colours and counselling have played a vital role in my development as an artist and art therapist. “My belief is that when you light a candle, the darkness disappears. For me, these candles are my students and the people I heal, trying to integrate the wisdom and understanding of the self within them and eventually find their hidden potential.”

She has a very clear sense of her own existence: “Being a visual artist is a privilege one can see, receive, experience and express one’s self in a completely unique manner. My best friends and the love of my life are my paintings. In my work, I am very conscious of the fact that I am a Pakistani female artist. We women in Pakistan tend to decorate our surroundings from a shirt to a plate, we tend to decorate and celebrate the colours of our environment. For the past eighteen years I have been working as a professional artist. I am also an artist social worker working especially on rehabilitation of special people through art therapy. I have experimented with various mediums and surfaces and the effect of colour on human psyche.

I have a vast experience both as an art therapist and also management of different cultural festivals held in Lahore.

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She describes her art philosophy thus: “I like to collect smiles and heal. When someone comes to me with a heavy heart and teary eyes, trying to make them think positive and eventually seeing an expression of peace and a relieved smile is the most rewarding experience and the same is the case with my paintings, especially through the colours and imagery, I try to heal all those who gaze upon my work.”

Believe it or not, the Holy Book (the Quran) is her chief source of inspiration. She says, “My chief source of inspiration is the Quran, literature that has remained relevant throughout time. Being an Asian Muslim, I developed a deep interest in this beautifully poetic and spiritual literature. The areas that intrigued were where the Quran talks about the big bang theory, the stages of a child’s formation within the female womb, the laws of physics explaining the movement of the planets. An in-depth analysis of the human nature and psychology present in the Quran helps me to unravel the different aspects of life.

Rumi’s poetry, also, gave me an in-depth understanding of the metaphysical and the spiritual aspect of the Quran and thus enhanced my vision and perspective. I have a Bachelors in Fine Arts from the National College of Arts (NCA), Pakistan. There I majored in Painting and took Print Making as a minor.”
Ufaq has worked extensively with children and volunteer student teams for many cultural festivals held in Lahore. She has been conducting art workshops for children.

She says, “I have been blessed by the most caring and loving parents. Being the first born in the family, I was pampered a lot. My fondest childhood memories are my visits to my grandmother’s house called the Haveli or the Lashari House in the midst of old Lahore, Muzang. I would dig out clay the garden and toys out of it. There was also a big shrub of fragrant Arabian Jasmine (Motiya) and I would pluck its flowers and make garlands. My maternal uncles, Kamran Lashari and Zoraiz Lashari, would buy them from me and call me their ‘little flower girl’.

“My first art teacher was my paternal grandfather, Sardar Zakaullah. He had a skilled hand at drawing. He would go for his daily walk early in the morning and pick flowers for my brother and me on his way back. He would make us, my brother and me, draw flowers, fruits and butterflies. That was indeed the deciding factor for me, to want to become an artist.”

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About her favourite genre and style in art, she says, “I prefer to work in symbolism. The language of symbols is a threshold between the physical and the metaphysical and since my work is greatly inspired by the Sufi Literature hence, colors and symbols play a very important role in my paintings. Colors and symbolism nearly remain constant throughout cultures and it is a universal currency which reflects our feelings, our thoughts and our memories. In my painting they are used in such a manner as to create a piece of art pleasing to the eye and mind and beautiful to a degree that it obeys the cosmic order and therefore reflects universal beauty.”

She describes her aim in art thus: “My aim as an artist is to bridge the gap between all schools of thought and spread the message of peace and love taught by Sufi’s through all ages and times. Therefore, like cosmology my paintings give a message of unity in which the entire universe is taken as one whole unit including all creations physical and meta-physical bonded in one focal unit all engages in worship of God. This was the message of the mystic Sufi’s thus my paintings are transformed as my life’s passion and a never ending road to spiritual discovery. As Rumi beautifully said:

The drop that left its homeland
The sea and then returned
It found an oyster waiting
And then grew into a pearl

“For me this reflects the journey of our conscious which after so many experiences of life, contemplation and meditation achieve the ultimate—the wisdom, a pearl to be cherished and possessed by all thinking minds.”

Ufaq says her style of art has seen changes lately. “My paintings are a journey of my soul through colors. Over the years my palette has underwent lots of changes. Initially I used a lot of red. Symbol of anger, energy and rage but over the years the paintings and my palette became more resolved. With age one gains maturity of thought and wisdom which reshapes a person’s personality in a very positive manner. Now my recent work has lots of turquoise, a symbol of freedom, expansion, fulfilment and tranquillity. Also with the use of violet, a symbol of spirituality and perception. My work has become more resolved, the color palette more versatile and more focused in the direction i want to take my imagery and symbols.”

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She admits that she underwent different phases in her art life, lately. Colors, music, symbols, motherhood, Sufism and mystism are a great inspiration. My journey from a woman to a mother and then to a being with a questioning mind has been evident in my work and how it has progressed over the years. My active participation in art therapy sessions for special people has opened up new vistas.

Changes in her life have certainly brought about a change in her perception in her art and its application. She explains, “A time comes in everyone’s life when you question everything around you. The eternal question asked from the very existence of humans, that is, why do we exist? My quest to find the truth was made possible by three good friends: literature, painting and spiritualism. The reason is simple, we exist to understand and appreciate the one who created us ‘Allah’. For me all the ultimate truths are compiled in the Holy Quran. For me it is not only a book but also a living being. It has a soul. Each and every word is alive and it breathes. It answers our most troubled questions. Always there with the words of wisdom, warmth, blessings and heal all those who call upon its advice. In this journey of self discovery, I read alot about Sufism, philosophy, psychology and comparative religion. Paulo Coelho, Ashfaq Ahmad, JosteinGaarder, Anne Marie Schimmel, Karen Armstrong, Rumi, Sayyed Hossein Nasr, Wayne W Dyer and Robin Sharma have been a big all time inspiration.

I am in love with my creator ‘Lord Allah’ and I am in awe of Him. Allah can’t be seen or touched but when one starts the journey to reach out to him, one finds out that Allah can be felt with every heartbeat. When one is in love with The Creator, one becomes harmonised with the universe. What is harmony but positive thinking and compassion. Knowledge and wisdom centered around The Creator is the ultimate truth and reason of our existence.

Ufaq admits, “I am a dreamer with intense faith in the power of a prayer. When a strong positive thought becomes a prayer, it becomes mystical and sacred. It carries a soul, a voice and such unique intensity that it is heard by the Creator and eventually materialize in some form to help the one who yearned for it to happen.

In the art world, during my college days especially, I was very fortunate to have teachers which are icons in the field of fine arts.” In her own words, she admits, “Sir Saeed Akhtar, Mrs. Salima Hashmi, Madam Talat, Sir Dabir, Afshar Malik, Bashir Sahib, Quddus Mirza were the ones who helped me in my understanding of mediums, surfaces, materials and eventually the development of my work. As far as I’m concerned, I have been exhibiting in the major art galleries of Pakistan including Ejaz and Hamail Art Galleries in Lahore, Nomad in Islamabad, Canvas in Karachi. The art world has been very supportive and responsive towards my work especially Sir Saeed Akhtar who has always been a great support throughout.”
Her first exposure to a masterpiece was a huge mural of Sadequain which she saw in the Mangla Dam powerhouse where her father was working as chief engineer. “Sadequain, Chughtai, Claude Monet and Vincent Van Gogh are the ones who have always moved and inspired me,” she says.

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About her life’s ambition, Ufaq says, “I want to develop as a thinking being. I want to heal and guide people who i come across in my life especially my students are very important to me. They are my contribution for a better tomorrow and everyone of them matters to me. I am a very patriotic person. I love Pakistan and want to make a mark so people can feel proud to be a Pakistani. In some way reawaken the faith and pride within the hearts of our people that Inshallah goodness, peace and prosperity will prevail in my beautiful homeland. I want to be a writer one day and of course to excel in my work as a painter. My last wish would be to see peace, harmony and end of war and poverty. In a war the most affected and exploited are the children and women as they can’t defend themselves.”

Her artist statement declaims: “I believe that what we see, feel, hear and sense, influences us greatly and therefore is reflected in everything that we choose to do as well as who we become. Sounds, fragrances and people inspire the colours I choose and the imagery that prevails in my work. Being surrounded by colours from the time we are born, to the moment when the eye blinks for the last time; I not only acknowledge their role in existence itself but also openly admit to utilizing their essence to create my paintings, which I strongly believe, encourages healing. They heal not only my inner being but also those, who I come in contact with. Colours have been and will continue to be integral to my paintings. From the time that a single painting begins to the time I complete it, the personalities, auras and moods of my visitor’s present, shape my work which makes each painting unique. Creations that are heartfelt touches other hearts and souls. Painting for me is a prayer, a meditation, a whisper of hope and a smile which brightens up the spirit. I consider myself foremost a healer and through my work I try to create a sense of joy and harmony.”

Ufaq Ehsan’s message to the readers of IRIS ART MAGAZINE worldwide is: “I have developed a keen interest in reading on comparative religion especially Karen Armstrong. She is my all-time favourite author. She is not biased about any religion and gives a straight forward narration of a religion and its history. It further enhanced my understanding of other religions. I found Buddhism and teaching of Guru Nanak in perfect harmony in nature and very near to my heart.”

Tayyaba Aziz gives Human Elegance to Art

Her work is Figurative, Abstract and Cubist. Oil on canvas. And she is open to individual interpretation. This is Tayyaba Aziz, a young, energetic artist who has the courage to dare, “My paintings are based on poetry but everybody is welcome to interpret the painting in their own way. There is no right and wrong, and I let the viewer’s imagination run wild. My colors are bright and cheerful, and excite when you look at them. I usually do work on any series because I don’t want to limit myself to a specific theme.”

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Her description of an art works as she told IRIS ART MAGAZINE in an interview is, “My painting has a geometrical approach, emphasizing a flattened depiction of space. But I modify it to add the value in it to make it more exciting. Objects are painted in fragments where the viewer could see many sides of the object at a single glance. The subject matter is reconstructed in an abstract form. In my painting, color played a larger role in the paintings making the works much more decorative.”

She was hardly fifteen when she began to take academic interest in art. Today she indulges in abstract Cubo-expressionism, and works with complex forms of figuration.

Tayyaba Aziz is the first Pakistani artist to do a solo exhibition in Abu Dhabi Art Hub on September 16, 2013. Melissa Randhawa wrote on her work in DXB Buzz on June 30, 2014. Since then, she has participated in several art shows, including one that was held by Nomad Art Gallery at the Danish ambassador’s residence in Islamabad.

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For a young artist, she knows such a great deal about art, its history and philosophy that you could listen to her raptly as she speaks it all.

About her philosophy of art, she says, “Philosophy of art differs from other fields of life due to its subject-matter and also by the means it employs to reflects, transform and express itself. In a certain sense, the philosophy of art reflects reality in its relation to man, and depicts man, his spiritual world, and the relations between individuals and their interaction with the world.”

She continues, “We are not living in a pure world but in a world that has been transformed; a world where everything has been given a ‘human angle’, a world permeated with our attitudes towards it, our needs, ideas, aims, ideals, joys and sufferings, a world that is part of the vortex of our existence. If we were to remove this ‘human factor’ from the world and its sometimes inexpressible, profoundly intimate relationship with man, we will find ourselves confronted with a desert of grey infinity, where everything was indifferent to everything else. There are lots of happenings around us the bad and good.”

About the source of her inspiration in art, she says,

“I am inspired by my great teacher Mansoor Rahi, Pablo Picasso who was probably the most important artist of the twentieth century who first give the idea to the world about Cubism, Claude Monet who was the founder of French impressionist painting, and nineteenth century modernist painter Édouard Manet. In truth, there are many more who inspire me.

“But my chief source of inspiration was my father. I love to read poetry and to experiment with formal elements. I use formal element like color/shape and line as the basis of my work: How we see things symbolically, especially how different atmospheres and hardships affect our visual perspective.”

About her early education, Tayyaba says, “I did my Bachelors in Fine Arts from PECHS College in Karachi and, having received an enviable first position in the certificate course from the Central Institute of Art and Craft (CIAC), I finished my MBA (Marketing) from Hamdard University, Karachi. Then I joined MansoorRahi and worked for two years under the tutelage of this great master.”

Tayyaba says she has had “a very ordinary childhood.”

Explaining, she adds, “My father was a self-made person. He drew faces with the charcoal. He was passionate towards poetry and art but because of his responsibilities of his family, he kept his desire in the cupboard, locked it and threw the keys in the sea.”

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She has struggled hard during the early phase of her life. “In the beginning, I didn’t have enough money to buy the expensive art materials. In order to earn more money I started working early in the mornings; the usual work hours would be from 8am to 6pm and then I would attend the MBA classes from 6pm to 9pm. For four years I would reach home very late and get little or no time for rest. I have struggled a lot to reach at the place I am standing right now, and the struggle continues to prove myself as an artist. All my achievements happened due to my mother’s prayer and I continue this art because of my husband’s support and encouragement,” she emphasizes.

Describing her favorite genre and style in art, she says, “My favorite genre has always been the beautiful gifts that God have blessed us all with, such as horses and other figurative works. After getting into the field of art, I completely admire the proportionality God has used to create us.”
Her aim in art: “Good art has an emotional impact on the space it occupies, giving it a sense of atmosphere and mood. My fundamental aim in art is to increase the happiness of viewers by giving them something beautiful, something adorable. The good images enter the eye and leave their eternal impression on our minds.”

She adds, “It is very difficult to define art. As quoted by one of the many artists, ‘It is an overloaded term.’ I think: art lacks nowhere in teaching you the lessons of patience and endurance.
“Creative work helps you to get out of your internal world, see the things in a broader perspective, and show the same to your audience. They must feel that this is something they completely missed before this moment. I become passionately involved in something that challenges my imagination and enjoy the power that art bestows me to express myself in so many different ways. My aim as an artist is to understand the visual complexity of things in terms of the relationship between the objective properties of image and subjective properties of perception,” she elaborates.

As an artist, what precisely are her personal feelings? To this, she responds, “For an artist, to get into the art market or to get recognition is the most difficult step in life. In the beginning, as all artists do; I sent my portfolio to various galleries and became used to being ignored for a long, long time. However, I did not give up since this universal trend gave me the required courage to continue and produce more quality work.”

About art fairs, she comments,

“Art fairs provide you the vital means of recognition. They provide you the opportunity to interact with art galleries, publishers, and eventually the art lovers who wish and can afford to buy your work. The art work being sold and bought must be authentic and should also be an effective copyright act in Pakistan, so that the dealers must certify that the painting is original and from the genuine artist. This makes a work of art considerably more attractive to the buyer. The fraudster dealers sell the art at low prices and ruin the market of the original artist.”

Of her favorites she is very clear. “Dali is one of my most favorite artists. I really love the madness which shows in his work that in fact is sensibility, the persistence of memory, Crucifixion (Corpus Hypercubus).”

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She wishes, “There should be some organization in our country that promotes aspiring artists, an organization that plays the role of a middle man between the gallery and an artist. It is not necessary that a student who studies from a reputable institute gets a chance to enter the art market, because in my opinion art is God gifted and everybody must be accessible to it. People already are born with talent and capabilities; the only role that an institution plays is to polish it.

“There should be no child labor which is very common in Pakistan we should take lesson from the west who are totally against the child labor and to stop this, the free Education should be made compulsory for each every child irrespective of caste, creed or religion.”

She aims to help the poor and downtrodden children whose family cannot afford their education expenses. “I would also like to continue with my studies to excel in art.”

Her artist’s statement: “I am an Abstract Cubo Expressionist and work with complex forms of figuration that is oil on canvas. My colors are bright, lively and vibrant those bring the feelings of joy, content and elation. With my geometrical approach I emphasize a flattened depiction to objects. I am categorizing myself as an analytical cubist. I have tried to experiment with analytical cubism by detaching it from monochromatic expression to bring more life to it. The life is very complex, and my work shows exactly the same. Complexity, ambiguity and puzzle are the hallmark of my work but still they invoke a sense of hope and happiness. It is the combination of imagination, reality and some unsaid emotions. It is simultaneously subtle and bold, complex and simple, planned and spontaneous.

“I depict the world as it is not as it seems. I analysis the subject from multiple view points and reconstruct it within a geometrical framework and create an image by distorting the forms by using many colors of full palette. I really enjoyed geometric formula that solve the problem of how to draw three dimensional object with the approximation of four dimension on a two dimensional surface.”

And here is her personal message to art enthusiasts worldwide: “A painting has to be made with paint or paint like material, so there is a need to understand pictorial art and painting. Painting’s performativity will always set it apart from other media and raise the stakes over other forms.”—Khalid Rahman

ARTIST STATEMENT

Says Tayyaba Aziz:

I describe myself as figurative, abstract expressionist and analytical cubist. Oil on canvas, I experiment with analytical cubism by detaching it from monochromatic expression to bring more life to it.

My work brings together the human form to reproduce in separate pieces of prism. When I used thin layers of color that cover my subject’s body making it free and floatable and space is activated with overlapping colors/ tones and patterns that tune up the imagination with visual ambiguity. I use a vibrant palette that assists me in solving dimensional puzzle.

Our culture and society teaches us that we must hold back emotion when in public but I believe emotion should be expressed more regularly and freely. Colors play an extremely important role in my paintings making it more decorative and intense. My work is the expression or application of imagination.

Shoaib Khilji converses through chaotic colors

Just like curiosity and the cat are interconnected, so is creativity and an artist. Some artists get recognition because of their inspiration and skill; others get success as a result of prayers. This is what Pakistani artist Shoaib Hassan Khilji believes. He lives in a village where, he remarks, “a human life values no more than a fistful of dust. I, too, think so. I began to understand and recognize myself right from that point.”

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Grown up in a deeply religious environment, Shoaib Khilji believes that his creative philosophy begins right from Allah the Magnificent, the Absolute Creator. It is He Who made this life-filled Earth right out of nothing.

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“We have been sent to this world so that each one of us writes the chapter he has been assigned. Now it is up to each one of us to do their best. I am one of the billions of these people. I began to indulge in art since I started to look at faces and figure, colors and hues, voices and sounds and take interest in them, and images I saw began to take shape and form in my own mind. I found that my art philosophy began to see the Creator’s Image in all the faces. That was certainly a Sufic thought,” he explains to IRIS ART MAGAZINE.

Shoaib Khilji further elaborates, “The chief source of my inspiration is the image of the Creator as I perceive it. Unique and original. Inimitable. When I grew up and began to go to school and have friends’ company, I experienced truth as well as lies.

I ask him, “What has been your chief source of inspiration?”

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He responds earnestly, “I am deeply inspired by the Presence of my Creator and Provider. Nothing in this world exemplifies Him. When, I started going to school, I began to sit among village elders, I heard true stories as well as fables. From these discussions evolved my perception of life and Creation, and of art and observation. I began to see the world in its myriads of colors. From this chaos emerged my art. It opened up like a talismanic door. Slowly, I came to know its beauty, brilliance and glamor.”
Shoaib emphasizes, “To me, art is a form of creation or perception that is next to reality. I learned my art from humanity in all its colorful imagery. As an artist, I create art that focuses on varying human faces naturally, and this is my training since the days I lived among the faqeers and got seeped in their colors, feeling the pain that that felt.”

I want to know, “How would you describe your fondest memories – your childhood, family, teachers and classmates?”

He looks puzzled, “This question is too difficult, and even painful, for me to answer. My fondest dream was to get good schooling, to complete my education. But in my life, I have experienced only lies and frauds at every turn of life.

“Life goes on. It does not stop for you. Every moment in your life is devoted to one even of another. Painful memories accumulate over time. I have gone through an agonizing life but I had to endure everything that came my way; that I had to pass through. I realized that one has to bear all the difficulties without a moan or groan. In my heart, I was sure that at the end of the tunnel, there would be light. Success would be there. Victory would dawn upon me!

“My childhood went on as if I passed through a fragrant garden of roses. I had a wonderful time with my family and I learnt a lot from them. With my mother I spent 28 love-filled years, and from her I knew how to bear defeat with courage and how to face victory with chivalry. Before her eyes, I leant to walk upon my own two feet; to read and write and draw; and to recite the Holy Book. She made me learn to respect humanity as its second name is God’s worship, and that we must respect human rights as the repect for humanity is what rewards you in this world and the next. She taught me that it is Allah Who bestows upon us all the blessings that come our way in this life, that it is He Who has created our parents to care for us and to provide and protect us. It is our Blessed Prophet who has guided us on the right path. After our parents, it is our teacher who deserves greatest respect. Listening to her, I wondered why the teachers in this country, especially in our villages are so ignorant.”

When asked to comment upon his life as a young artist, Khilji remarked, “As a young man, I have my own dreams and desires. But as an artist, I hardly get any respect from people. They look at my art and shake their head in disappointment because they think that I should not have wasted my time and effort, and should have done something more worthwhile.”

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Having been disappointed by this cold attitude, Khilji ceased to sit in the company of the ascetic and austere dervishes and faqirs. Instead, he befriended colors and lines. He reads human faces, figures and expressions and translates them in the language of art. He decided to speak only in this language and express his feelings through this idiom.

He dips his brushes in the colors of spirituality and spreads them on the canvas of existence. Loving humanity is his way of life. And an internal chaos keeps him active and alive.

Shiva Aini: So passionate about humanism

Powerful strokes make her artwork come alive with an unusual force. She grips a colored chalk or a paint-laden brush and makes stroke after stroke to transfer her feelings on canvas. Like a magic wand, the movement of her hand brings to life the themes she is most concerned about—child abuse and violence against women. Though she spent a loved and protected childhood in a family of music lovers, her concern for child abuse and violence against women grew with time.

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When she was just a child, Shiva Aini played with line and color. She says to IRIS ART MAGAZINE, that when she was only six, her mural that she named ‘Ant War’ appeared on a wall of her kindergarten nursery in Akhtyarm—a simple, art work. Describing it, she says, “I drew my first large painting in kindergarten. They allocated one of the yard walls to me and I started painting.” From that fledgling stage, she continued painting and today she is known as an accomplished artist.

Briefly, she describes her childhood, “I have always cherished my language, my drawing and loved design. They are my tools of communication. With my paintings, I can communicate with anyone from any place in the world. My father and brother were into music. When my father saw me taking interest in art, he encouraged me. The little seedling grew into a fresh promise of fulsome spring.

“With passing years, my passion with painting remains my strongest source of inspiration, increasing in intensity day after day. I live with it, breathe it, talk to it and make love to it. Sometimes I scream. Leave myself to painting and dissolve in it. It’s a part of me. Painting is my life and I am doomed to devastation with this passion.

“I have not achieved all I have been looking for. Part of the reason is that I live in Iran and most of my art is considered political or erotic, both are regarded taboos here and not presentable.”

Her philosophy in painting is: “Self-expression simultaneous with being the voice of my country’s women.” She says, “I feel that it is the concern of many Iranian painters. I love to portrait such concerns in my own style. Exposing a tragedy as Aristotle puts it, ‘Only a virtuous deals with it.’ Here it is women who are destined for the tragedy.”

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With a bachelor of art in her bag, she also has a certificate of painting from the University of Varounj in Russia; and a Certificate in Stone Sculpture from Professor Luca Marovino of the University of Regio Kalabria, Italy.

With her concerns for human rights, especially the female and child rights, she thinks living in Iran is difficult. “Artists have their specific lifestyle and the community to which it is not very much open in this country.”

Most artworks that Shiva creates are expressionistic. “I paint my feelings and expressions of violence in black charcoal,” she says, adding: “These problems pertain to my country as well as some other parts of the world. I try to address them globally in charcoal and colors.”

Her works have been published in a reference book about international artists published by Alberta Gallery in Portugal, and she intends to write a book to narrate the story of the multiple phase of her life as an artist as each of them has affected her differently.

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She remarks about an artist’s life, “For obvious reasons, changes are boldly written in an artist’s life. Each period of his life is filled with (and reflects) different attitudes and concerns of that specific time, as it changes the theme of life for the artist. I, too, change my art subject according to my mental, physical and life conditions. I deal with the changes piece by piece and transform it all according to how they affect my thinking.”

Her utmost desire is to “reach my goal and become one with my theme and painting. I feel that art takes so much love and passion.”

With beauty in her heart and an artistic vision in her mind, Shiva Aini feels that she is about to fly off to new heights. She never had a fear of flying.—Khalid Rahman