My life has always been associated with art in some way or the other. I remember that I was good with chalks and coloured pencils when I was very young and I am pretty sure I discovered my skill when we were asked to make diagrams in our science journals in school. I used to be surrounded by a crowded classroom saying wow!
My art teacher, Rashid Arshed further then further enhanced this skill. He gave me my first art book on the famous Dutch Post-Impressionist painter, Van Gogh that I still cherish. Rashid is now a renowned artist of Pakistan contemporary and painting abroad.
In 1968, I was selected to represent Pakistan in the Russian Youth Festival, in Russia. I again hit a six by winning the competition with my design of a poster on peace and therefore winning great laurels in Pakistani youth.
Winning this competition further developed my interest in art and subsequently led to my keen eye in collecting unique pieces.
The first painting I bought from Indus Art Gallery was of Jamil Naqsh, one of the most renowned artists of Pakistan. He skill, technique and entire oeuvre is unmatchable, truly a living master of our time.
There were other artists from his group whom I admired such as the late Mansur Aye. Both my favorites, Jamil and Najmi Sura also became my very good friends. I asked them to guide me on understanding paint as a medium as well as the important painters of Pakistan. This was my first lesson on Pakistani artists and their skill. Many people buy art as an investment but this is something I’ve never thought of and never will. I used to spend a lot of my time visiting art galleries while going home from work and as a result, most of my collection consists of Pakistani painters.
Some of my collection also consists of Pakistani artists who, over the years have gained tremendous popularity in European art markets abroad. I have always focused on picking pieces where I truly enjoyed the colour, medium and subject matter. I also posses precious collections of foreign artists, like M. F. Hussain, Souza and Jamini Roy. I have many fond memories of sitting with M. F. Hussain and Souza at the Indus Art Gallery when they visiting Pakistan.
Jamini Roy was an artist I really admired, and while I was fortunate to buy all other artists in Pakistan when they were present here, Jamini was one I keenly sought and acquired from outside.
Before the wave of neo-miniature art appeared at art galleries, there was great work coming from new art graduates. I was again fortunate to pick a fairly good lot, straight out of their final thesis.
Currently the whole art scene has changed. The new art graduates are bringing beautiful work in mixed media. Fortunately, they are putting a hefty price tag on their work, since they sell fast in the European countries at a good price.
I do not have a wall left at my home to put any more artists. I am now spending my time reading up on how to maintain one’s valuable art collection but I am so happy to see art continuing to flourish in our country. I wish the best of luck to the emerging and talented lot of artists who are bringing great work in a variety of media to their contemporary and future audiences.
Aftab Tapal is the third generation of the Tapal family and the current CEO of the Tapal Tea company.