Sense and Insanity launched
KARACHI: A book on the life and work of artist Shahid Rassam titled Sense and Insanity written by distinguished art historian Dr Akbar Naqvi was launched at the Arts Council here on Monday. Dr Naqvi, who made it to the event despite not keeping well, said it was up to readers to decide what the book was like. Pointing out the special feature of the book, he said the book being launched was penned by someone who understood art the way it should be understood, and in his own context. He touchingly remarked that he was in his sunset years.
Art critic Marjorie Husain said it was a celebratory occasion. She said Rassam was fortunate. She said she could not thank Dr Naqvi enough who, in spite of his bad health, wrote two important books (on art) which would be very important for generations to come because, since there was shortage of galleries, there was a danger of future artists being unaware of history. She said Dr Naqvi had done more than anyone to solve that problem.
Ms Husain said the first time she saw Rassam’s painting was years ago at the British Council library. It was a series of painting, she said, of a slave market in which there were poor women waiting to be bargained over. She said she thought it was amazing. She said he kept painting, then went abroad, came back and made the sunflower series. She said whatever he had done was strong.Writer and artist Anwar Maqsood said he could not believe that Dr Naqvi had written a book because he did not write (often). He said he did not remember when the last time the author had come to the Arts Council. He said he was feeling, perhaps, happier than the artist for seeing Dr Naqvi at the event.
He said to speak on a dead poet, writer or artist was the easiest thing to do in Pakistan, and the most difficult was to talk about a living artist or writer. He said he had known Rassam from the time when the artist used to live in Korangi.He said there the door to his house would be closed, an image that he had painted. He said that in the published book, too, the first image was of a closed door. He also spoke on an image of poet Jaun Elia (who features a lot in the book). He said he was the person who knew how to draw lines and use colours easily.
Artist Noorjehan Bilgrami said that in the 1970s, the great Ali Imam Sahib’s Indus Gallery was the nucleus of writers, artists, poets and critics who would discuss every subject under the sun. She said she first saw Dr Naqvi with his wife at that gallery. She said the book was a collaborative effort of two strong personalities. She said Dr Naqvi had done justice to the artist.
Zehra Chughtai said Rassam was fortunate to have had the book written for him. She said Dr Naqvi had not been well for the past two years and could not sleep. She said that on two occasions he lost the manuscript and was able to rewrite it.
Arts Council’s Ahmad Shah said he first met Rassam at Jaun Elia’s place. Then, he said, he met him when he was with Mushtaq Ahmed Yousufi. Both Jaun and Yousufi were the greats of our time, he said, adding that the artist knew public relations. He said there was a time when he had differences with him, but it never translated into something where they would not see each other. He said Rassam was a creative person and he liked being with creative people. Writer Mushtaq Ahmed Yousufi was on the guest list but could not make it to the programme. Actor Talat Hussain read out his (Yousufi’s) essay on Rassam in which Yousufi Sahib had written that the artist painted with his eyelids. Shakil Adilzada, Shehzad Sharjeel, Fazil Jamili and Shahid Rassam also spoke. Sajid Hasan moderated the launch.