A 25-year Journey!
Today we can clearly witness that art has become ubiquitous with Pakistan fast approaching the universal scene!!
During my professional stint in Lahore in the early 90s, art dawned on me coincidently, with the encouragement of my friend, Wasif Ali Khan, the maestro of architectural design and an avid promoter and collector of art. In my early thirties, focused on a professional career and finding it a struggle to get my priorities aligned, my passion for art, hitherto dormant, was ignited when Wasif introduced to me the art world. He coaxed and almost twisted my arm, during our many social interactions, to consider investing in Iqbal Hussain’s ‘ Ravi on a Misty Morning’, a beautiful landscape of the river Ravi with a boat on a hazy morning, which I fell in love with it immediately.
At the time Iqbal Hussain had recently graduated from the National College of Art in Lahore, and even made my acquaintance once, at Wasif’s office. In the later years, Hussain jumped to great fame with a spot on ‘Times’ cover page, which made it hard to foot the bill for his painting. However, my inner joy and pleasure to see the artwork outweighed it all and there is no regret about buying it, even today. This was the start of my tryst, as they say with art world, collecting what I liked rather than only on the basis of fame.
The passion for art opened a broader path to discover, appreciate and collect art of both, Pakistani masters as well as works that gave me pleasure and inner satisfaction.
The likes of Khalid Iqbal, the ‘Constable of Pakistan’ depicting the rural landscape of Pakistan with the fine brush strokes, Iqbal Hussain particularly for the old Lahore cityscapes and rural-scapes, Jimmy Engineer, the celebrated Pakistani master and philanthropist, Sadequain the Naqqash, the most celebrated master and considered the Picasso of Pakistan, Bashir Mirza, the contemporary master of works, Gulgee the flamboyant master of canvas for his vibrancy with colours, the celebrated Jamil Naqsh with his obsession for women and pigeons and his matchless elegance of romantic passion. It will be amiss if I were not mention Mussarat Mirza for the Sukkur rural landscapes, Tassaduq Sohail, Wahab Jaffer, Azmat, Iqbal Mehdi and Zahid Mayo from Lahore. Each of the works is worth a thousand words as they say.
Art is the soul of ones life and home. In fact, it says something about an individual’s link with culture, aesthetics, history and connections with social issues. Art symbolizes fantasies, unspoken thought, society’s issues and despair, taboos, history and the evolution of civilization and landscapes, all conveyed brilliantly and subtly, sometimes through strokes of brush or pen. It encourages people to discuss and initiates a discourse for a better life.
The relocation from Lahore to Karachi in 2002 helped me further my passion for art; the privilege of meeting Masters as well as contributing to the Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture, as part of the governing board. I was fortunate to meet the late iconic Habib Fida Ali, who was also an art lover. He assisted Lalla, the rock in my life, and myself to design our abode, which fulfilled my ambition to bring the harmony of art into our home through its interior as well as created a nice blend with the garden and scape outside. Life, art, my home and the garden are inextricably linked.
With ArtNow becoming ubiquitous as well, I consider it my responsibility to promote young talent and contribute in any meaningful way. Through art, a softer image of Pakistan is possible, creating its image as a plural society.
Until next time, enjoy Sadequain, the Naqqash’s, Rubaiyat:
“I am the line that shall adorn every page
I am the word etched deep into every stone
The mystery Nature had endowed me with-
The secret shall I fully reveal to you”
Waqar Ahmed Malik is the former CEO, ICI pakistan Limited. Chairman, Pakistan Oxygen Limited & co-founder of Adira Capital holdings ( PVT. ) Limited.