The Artist Shahid Sajjad Was -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

The artist Shahid Sajjad was

Pakistan Press Foundation

KARACHI: Today (July 28) is Shahid Sajjad’s second death anniversary. Shahid Sajjad who? Some might ask. Well, he was, and still is, one of the greatest artists that this country has produced — a sculptor like no other in Pakistan.

When he died two years ago, there was a series of programmes arranged in his honour. Fair enough. But what are we doing now with his legacy? All our adoration and affection for him lasted for as long the memory of his death was fresh, it seems.

If you are a regular visitor to the Karachi Press Club, you would know that there’s a room on the club’s first floor which has at least a couple of Shahid Sajjad’s beautifully sculpted wooden artworks. Recently, at a farewell lunch in honour of a friend hosted in that room, this writer saw them for the first time. Sattar, a waiter at the club who’s been serving journalists since the late 1960s (a legend himself), told the inquisitive guests that Shahid sahib gave those pieces to the club in the early 1970s. Though it is exceedingly difficult to ascertain the worth of the sculptures, it would be appropriate to suggest to the journalist community not to let the works of art gather dust. They should be preserved, with a fair degree of pride.

Coincidentally this writer got a chance to talk to Shahid sahib’s wife, Salmana, on Tuesday evening. She had this touch of sadness in her voice which is explainable. During the conversation she talked about her husband’s contribution to art and why it needs to be maintained.

Salmana said: “I want to do a lot for Shahid. Right now, I intend to pen down my memoirs. For that I went to the eminent art critic Dr Akbar Naqvi to seek his counsel. He encouraged me to go for it. Then some people from Columbia University had come down to see me. They were pleasantly surprised to see so much printed material on Shahid.

They said it would be injustice to the artist if people did not get to know about him. They will come back in August. I have sorted out all the material. When I look at these things, including his artworks, I think to myself what would Shahid say about it: ‘Did I make them to be left like this?’ I don’t find a proper place to put them in. They are in a vulnerable condition,” said Salmana.

“An art gallery wanted to display his works after Ramazan. I’m waiting for them. His stuff needs to be displayed so that it is maintained. Also, it would benefit those, especially the young generation, who are not familiar with his creative pursuit.

Here’s someone who devoted 50, 60 years of his life to art, we should not let his work go to waste. That being said, there are a few people close to me with whom I discuss these things and who are always willing to lend their support to me.”

Dawn