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My Family and Other Animals

It is said that your past, social standing, financial ranks, nothing defines your future other than your desire of what you want it to be and there is no better example of this than Muhammad Abdul. An unmistakable personality of printmaking in the Fine Art department at Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture, Abdul has come a long way and it seems like it is only the start.


Abdul lives in Shireen Jinnah Colony and from a very young age he helped his mother in providing for the family. At the age of ten he found himself a job at the canteen in IVS where he served tea and cleaned tables for years. Recalling those days, Abdul said, “I had a lot of fun working at the canteen. I got along with students and they all respected me. I worked very hard but I never once thought of leaving. IVS was home to me and I knew nothing else”.


After years of working at the canteen, he made his way into the fine art department where he looked after the teachers, gave them lunch and tea and helped around. Three years he was hired by the printmaking department as a helper. He was in charge of bringing supplies from the markets which initially worried him as he always doubted himself and wondered if he would be able to do the job. Soon he got a hang of how things work. It is no surprise that Abdul developed an interest in the process of printmaking. The curious and always ready to learn Abdul was not happy with only knowing where materials are bought from but was eager to see how they were used as well. His first print was a collograph. He recalls how he made a plate using leftover material by the students and that was the start. Whenever the students were working, Abdul would be working on a plate or two. The printmaking faculty, Nurayah Nabi and Saba Khan played a big role in inculcating this passion in Abdul. They guided him and when they were demonstrating techniques to their students, they made sure Abdul was learning also.


Abdul always had a love for animals owing it to the fact that growing up, his family raised animals for a living. The imagery in Abduls work comes from this strong association with animals. Initially he made prints that simply had imagery that he liked. Then he started attending crits of students and heard them talk about their work. He learnt how everyone had a ‘concept’- a certain idea that they were working with and trying to reflect in their work. That is when he started thinking about his work more meticulously and thought of adding meaning to it.


Abdul has exhibited his prints in China, Koel Gallery and recently at Full Circle. The Solo show at Full circle Gallery on febuary titled ‘My Family and Other Animals’ consists of delicately made wood cut prints of animals. Each piece is titled after a faculty member of the IVS Fine Art department. He works with the idea that in school he spends all day looking after the teachers and when he gets home, he spends his time looking after his animals. Abdul prefers working with woodcut over other printmaking techniques because he appreciates the mark making sensibility of the medium and the wooden texture that comes with it on the prints. The monochromatic prints with a hint of colour in some were a sight for sore eyes!


Abdul is always thankful and humbled by the opportunity and support that the Fine Art department gives him. Curator Scherehzade Junejo sees immense potential in his abilities. With his hard work, dedication and honesty, it is safe to say that Abdul has embarked on a journey that is taking him places.



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