Ironic to see Sadequain being used for commercial benefits
KARACHI: Master painter, muralist, calligrapher and poet Sadequain is being remembered at an exhibition of his rare works that validate his stature as a man of both letters and brushstrokes.
The exhibition, put together by the Institute of Business Administration as part of its 60th anniversary celebrations, kicked off with a seminar, titled ‘Sadequain in Koochaiye Khayyam’. Noted historians, scholars and art critics delivered lectures on different aspects of the late painter’s prowess to a sizeable audience at IBA city campus on Sunday.
Curator and Sadequain’s grandson, Sibtain Naqvi, underscored Sadequain’s early life and how it helped shape his sensibilities. “Sadequain’s inclination towards marsia is reflected in his poetic escapades,” he told The Express Tribune. He added it was the cultural thrust of Sadequain’s birthplace Amroha that invoked the artist within him.
Read: Catch a glimpse into Sadequain’s private letters
Naqvi said it is ironic that today the image of Sadequain symbolises commerce and elitism for some. “He was the common man’s painter. There is a reason why he would turn down requests of kings and queens and found solace in inking the emotions of a man sitting on the street.” Today, the possession of Sadequain’s paintings has become a status symbol of sorts. “Owning one is indeed a matter of honour but the work should be shared and not confined to the walls of drawing rooms.”
Art critic Niilofar Farrukh concurred with Naqvi. “Sadequain bridged the gap between the studio and the man on the street through his enigmatic persona,” she said.
Scholar Dr Nomanul Haq emphasised Sadequain’s connection with Ghalib and how the former walked him through the complex world of Ghalib’s imagination. He drew parallels between Sadequain and Persian poet Omar Khayyam and noted that the former holds a unique position in the world of art due to his command over both poetry and painting.
IBA Dean and Director Dr Ishrat Hussain stressed the understanding of humanities. “Remembering giants such as Sadequain is essential for moving forward as a nation,” he said.
The event culminated with actor Talat Hussain’s readings from Sadequain’s collection of rubaiyaat (quatrains). Within a very short period, the late poet pieced together over 2,600 quatrains, several accompanied by illustrations.
Aaya hoon numaish mein, yaheen dekhoon ga,
Jitne yahan aye hen haseen dekhoon ga,
Tasveeren jahan ghoom rahi hon zinda,
Kaghaz ki main tasveer nahin dekhoon ga!
[I have come to the exhibition and will
see for myself,
All the beautiful people that have arrived,
At the place where living pictures roam around,
I will not observe the pictures on paper]
The aforementioned quatrain is written alongside one of the paintings and aptly articulates how Sadequain would have felt had he been alive to see enthusiasts flock the gallery.
The exhibition that will continue until October 11 features 66 of Sadequain’s unseen works accompanied by a tribute, titled ‘Restive, Restless Sadequain’, painted by his grandnephew Haider Ali Naqvi. They include several of Sadequain’s quatrains accompanied by their visual representation. The exhibition is open between 11am to 7pm and entry is free.
Sadequain’s nephew Sultan Ahmed lent the works to IBA for the exhibition. Ahmed welcomed the idea of exploring new avenues regarding Sadequain. “Seeing his name being misused for commercial benefits saddens me. There is a need for discourse so that his message can be disseminated to the masses.”