Sadequain was an iconic cult figure of his time. Its symbols are as blatant as its poetry. He was a master calligrapher, painter, poet and ambassador of Pakistan to the world. He elevated the art of classical calligraphy to new form and new heights.
It was the bulk of the speeches given by attendees at an event that included the launch of a book from Sadequain’s sketchbook, an exhibition of his paintings and calligraphy titled ‘Mystic Expressions’ and the screening of a documentary. -movie. Raaz-e-Fun on the life and achievements of the legendary artist.
The event was organized by the Pakistan National Arts Council (PNCA) in collaboration with the Sadequain Foundation on the occasion of its 35th anniversary on Thursday.
Minister of State and BoI Chairman Zafar Ahsan opened the show with former Ambassador Sarwar Naqvi and Professor Dr Maimoona Khan.
Ali Sarwar Naqvi, former Ambassador to the United States and currently founding Executive Director of the Center for International Studies, highlighted the greatness and achievements of the artist. He recalled his fond memories of meeting the artist while a student in Karachi in the late 1960s.
He described Sadequain as an icon, a cult figure who still has a devoted following today and will continue to have for years to come.
“He lives in our memories and in our thoughts,” Mr. Naqvi said.
Sadequain was the most prolific painter and poet of his time. He has been compared to Picasso for the versatility and vigor of his artistic genius and to Michelangelo for his gigantic murals displayed on many public buildings. No other Pakistani artist has created such large murals. “Like Picasso, Sadequain had a signature in his art. He was highly decorated and honored in Pakistan and abroad,” noted veteran diplomat Mr. Naqvi. “He was such a master of the traditional art of calligraphy which he elevated to an art form of his own style, unlike many other painters and calligraphers.
Mr. Naqvi also described the association of his maternal uncle Jaffar Naqvi, Zia Mohyeddin and Sadequain. He used to call himself a Faqeer.
Professor Maimoona in his speech described Sadequain as an optimistic and genuine artist. However, she says, it is very difficult to define Sadequain in a few minutes. She very succinctly defined the greatness of the painter, poet and calligrapher, saying “he was the man of his time, reflected through his artistic expressions”.
Dr. Maimoona described him as a “social satirist who uncovers society’s glaring truths describing human-related vices and virtues, without becoming satirical”.
But in this process, he is always optimistic about the power that man possesses.
Many people associate morbidity with Sadequain for his excessive use of the color black and the symbolism of the cactus, the thorny desert plant that is not well liked. But Sadequain reveals the heroic powers of the cactus which breaks the hard crust of the earth to emerge into the light.
“A plant with the power to progress against winds and tides, that’s what Sadequain wants in the people of his society. It gives a sense of optimism, not morbidity,” the professor said. His expressions are very strong and bitter. As he confesses, “I am not the salon painter, which means his paintings are not meant to adorn only the salons of the elite class.”
According to Professor Maimoona, Sadequain is esoteric in its approach – this can only be possible with those people who are absorbed in the inside and not the outside…people who decipher curves, not scabs or flakes . “His symbols are unique yet profound and prove his foresight – like a nest with eggs on the head of the young.”
Sadequain’s arabesques and calligraphic symbols resemble marching troops, proceeding with drumbeats and trumpets through color.
Minister of State Azfar Ahsan inaugurated the art exhibition. The paintings on display come from the permanent collection of the National Art Gallery. During his lifetime, the artist donated more than 100 works to the PNCA.
The main focus of this 260-page book is the black and white pen and ink drawings. These drawings were made as studies for the final set of drawings that Sadequain made to interpret his quatrains published in his book titled Rubaiyat-e-Sadequain Naqqash.
Earlier in his introductory remarks, PNCA Chief Executive Zahir Shah welcomed the guests and spoke briefly about Sadequain.
A large number of people, including members of the diplomatic community, students and city socialites were among the audience.
The book launch was followed by a documentary premiere.
Sadequain has been the subject of numerous documentaries, but Raaz-e-Fun stands out among all by its tone and tenor. The 30-minute film is written, narrated and directed by award-winning writer and director Waseem Amrohavi.
It takes the viewer on a blissful odyssey traversing Sadequain’s early forays into calligraphy and poetry at a young age, then later in life focusing on painting and its meteoric rise onto the world stage.
The film highlights the fact that even before the advent of social networks, computers or television, Sadequain’s talent was recognized on five continents; a fact that few Pakistanis can affirm.
Amrohavi, narrating in chaste Urdu, delves into the depth of Sadequain’s genius exemplified in his murals spread across Pakistan, India, the Middle East, Europe and America.
It decodes the mysteries of Sadequain wrapped in interpretations of the poetry of Ghalib, Iqbal and Faiz. And it unveils the beauty and generosity of the artist’s pictorial calligraphy in what Sadequain called “Khatt-e-Sadequaini” or “Sadequain’s font”.
The docu-film shows that Sadequain during his lifetime was a celebrity and a household name in Pakistan. He gave more to the nation than any man or woman. But a few years after his death, his name faded from the collective memory of the nation. He should have been the face of the nation recognized worldwide, but unfortunately he became a stranger in his own country; an unsung hero.
Created in 2007, the Sadequain Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to the discovery, preservation and promotion of Sadequain’s art around the world. To this end, the Foundation published 25 books on Sadequain’s life and work and organized over 100 seminars and exhibitions around the world, resulting in Sadequain’s resurrection from obscurity.
Dr. Salman Ahmad is an electrical engineer by profession. He founded the SADEQUAIN Foundation in June 2007 to catalog Sadequain’s work and present it to the world. He is the author of 24 books on Sadequain including SADEQUAIN-ISM 201, The legend of SADEQUAIN – Renaissance of calligraphic art, SADEQUAIN: Lines of Picasso – Range of Michelangelo, Mystic Expressions by SADEQUAIN – An Odyssey to Exaltation with Ghalib, Iqbal, Faiz and Sadequain, From realism to calligraphy, Cubism – The legacy of SADEQUAIN from Paris to Pakistan, Ghalib and Sadequain (in Hindi), Sadequain’s Lost Art Trails and The Saga of SADEQUAIN. There are many more books in the pipeline.
Sadequain died on the night of February 10, 1987 at the OMI Clinic in Karachi.
Before Sadequain was buried, some 300 of his paintings were said to have been stolen from storage at Frere Hall, where he was working on the ceiling mural titled Arz-o-Samawaat.