'Flowers of Devotion' in full bloom at Alhamra -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

‘Flowers of Devotion’ in full bloom at Alhamra

Pakistan Press Foundation

LAHORE: An exhibition entitled ‘Flowers of Devotion’ featuring artistic calligraphy of the names of the Holy Prophet (Peace be upon him) by Neyyar Ehsan Rashid opened at the Alhamra Art Gallery, The Mall, on Monday.

The well-attended show was inaugurated by former senator Haleem Siddiqui. Abida Gurmani offered dua before the inauguration.

Some 300 artworks put on display included the names of the Prophet. Based on her extensive knowledge, Neyyar Ehsan Rashid has painted images of a range of flowers, to express her deep devotion to the various facets of the life of the Holy Prophet (PBUH).

She has endeavored to match the qualities depicted in the numerous names with the characteristics of the various flowers through her calligraphic representation.

The paintings have also been compiled in the form of a book. Based on these paintings, the late Arif Mansoor Khan has provided poetic verses in Urdu, which have simultaneously been translated in English by Dr Adrian Husain and rendered into Arabic by Abu Saleh Bablesi from Jordan. The renowned calligrapher Dr Nassar Mansour did the Arabic calligraphy.

Eight calligraphic works based on Sura Fatehah and 50 paintings on Sura Rehman were also on display. A publication based on Sura Fatehah containing its English translation and tafseer (explanation) by Maulana Abul Kalam Azad with the eight calligraphic works is also being prepared.

The works on Sura Rehman along with translation and tafseer will be published as well.

National College of Arts former principal and the artist’s daughter Nazish Attaullah commenting on the artworks said: “The work is of devotional nature of an artist who is deeply involved in the spiritual aspects of Islam and this body of works covers at least 20 years.”

NCA Principal Murtaza Jaffri also held the artworks in high esteem. Nusrat Jamil said it was a splendid exhibition.

Neyyar Ehsan Rashid was born in Hyderabad (Deccan) to Nawab Ahsan Yar Jang and Afsar Jahan Begum. From an early age, she had the honour of being tutored by a renowned teacher of calligraphy, Ustad Shamshir Ali. Her interest in the art form grew over the years and she took regular classes in drawing and oil painting from Ustad Abdul Qayyum, specialising in portrait painting. In late 1949 she migrated to Pakistan. One of her earliest important portrait was that of Nawab Mushtaq Ahmad Khan Gurmani that she painted in London in 1950. In 1951 a portrait of Begum Pasha Haroon, wife of Pakistan’s High Commissioner, was exhibited in a group show in Sydney, Australia, and was widely acclaimed.

Her significant works include portrait of Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah in the Quaid’s office at the Government House, Karachi, portrait of Zhou En Lai, which was presented to the Chinese leader by President Iskander Mirza on the occasion of his official visit to Pakistan in 1956, portrait of King Husain Bin Talal that she personally presented in 1984, portrait of Prince Hassan Bin Talal, brother of King Husain of Jordan that was presented in 1985, portrait of Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah in the Supreme Court, Court Room No.1, artistic calligraphy gilded in pure gold leaf at the main entrance of the Supreme Court of Pakistan.

During her stay in Jordan, in the early eighties, she became immersed in the artistic representation of the names of the Almighty and the Quranic verses. This was to become an all-encompassing preoccupation that she has passionately pursued for over the past four decades. Her works depicting the 99 names of the Almighty, some gilded in pure gold, won her great accolades and were published in Karachi under the title ‘To God Belong The Names Most Beautiful’. She granted the publication rights jointly to the Islamic Research Institute at the International Islamic University in Islamabad and the George Washington University in Washington DC.

The artist has put on display her works nationally and internationally, her significant exhibitions include ‘Beautiful Names of Allah’ (Asma-i-Husna) held at Jordan’s exhibition center in 1985, ‘To God Belong the Names Most Beautiful’, was inaugurated by then president Ghulam Ishaq Khan at the Karachi Arts Council in the late eighties, while the same body of work was exhibited at the commemorative opening of an exhibition hall at the Religious Affairs Building adjacent to the Masjid-i-Istiqlal in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Her two paintings, Al-Rasheed and Al- Suboor, are on permanent display in the form of an open book encased in a glass vitrine. She also participated in a group exhibition of artists from the Islamic world held in Jakarta at the Istiqlal Mosque in 1990.

Prominent on the occasion were Faqir Syed Ejauzuddin, Shaheen Attiqur Rehman, Dr Murtaza Jaffri, Tania Qureshi, Qasim Jaffri and Nusrat Jamil. The exhibition will remain open till March 25 from 10am to 6pm.