Celebrating Naqsh

by Marjorie Husai

U sing oils as media in his latest work, Jamil Naqsh manipulates the media to magnificent effect, creating sub tle gradations of layer upon layer. The sensual reverberations that articulate the richness of the work pays tribute to the artist’s handling of oil on canvas with a singular technique. This collection is a grand gesture of farewell to the subject that has played a pivotal role in his life and work— pigeons.

Through the years, in his paintings, they have constituted symbols of love, harmony, loyalty and reassurance. Already in the pipeline is an exhibition, to be mounted in London, of a collection of drawings in which the artist parallels the sufferings of mankind with the poisoning and banishing of the pigeons of Trafalgar Square in recent times, and with that, c’est fini.

In the paintings displayed, Naqsh combines memory with symbolism. His work is being exhibited for one evening only at the Momart Gallery, Karachi, where a collection of 41 paintings is put on show. Each artwork painted with exciting textural interest is beautiful, and the differing surfaces, act as background to the artist’s personal narrative of profound intensity. They emerge from memories of his youth; the inspiration that addressed the work is a vignette of boyhood.

Naqsh was about eight years old when he left his scholarly father and his home in Kairana on the banks of the River Jumna. Lahore, one of the first places he recalls visiting in Pakistan, made an indelible mark on his psyche. Accompanying his elder siblings, the artist came across the ruins of the Empress Noor Jehan’s tomb.

With his father he had studied the history of the Mughal Empire and had knowledge of the Persian script. He was moved by the neglected relic of the once all powerful woman, and the verse expressing the deep loneliness of Noor Jehan’s thoughts expressed as her obituary. Initially patterned with latticework and mosaic tiles, the relics at that time were broken and lying on the ground.

However, amidst the ruins, Naqsh observed the birds, which appeared to him as sentinels of the grave. He saw the pigeons nesting in the broken walls and alcoves, and to the young boy, they brought life and movement to the place. At that time the artist was quietly nursing his own sense of deprivation, uprooted from his peaceful home and scholarly father. Pigeons were to him a coexistent component of those times; a comforting reassurance and they became an integral part of his life and work. Viewing the collection of paintings in exhibition, one lauds the extraordinary achievement of the artist. Naqsh took on an enormous challenge with his subject and the one that proves for all time the intense level of cognitive concentration that he gives to his paintings. He has followed a path of his own for almost five decades achieving a signature that, in spite of international recognition, is perhaps as yet not fully appraised or understood.

Courtesy: Daily Dawn – Sunday 28, 2010


About Ahmad Ladhani

Teacher, an Accountant and a student :)
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