‘No matter how many times I paint it, the city keeps me coming back for more’
By: Zahrah Mazhar
KARACHI: Karachi has been painted by many but perhaps no other artist is as good as Hanif Shahzad when it comes to exploring different shades of the city on a canvas.
Staying true to his muse, the painter showcased his recent paintings of Karachi at the Chawkandi Art Gallery on Tuesday. Around 25 pieces of oil on canvas and oil on paper tried to capture the many moods of the city, which according to Shahzad, keep on changing. “This city is so big and it has so much to offer, but the people living here don’t take the time out to explore it,” says the artist, while surrounded by students and admirers of his art.
Born and brought up in Karachi, Shahzad studied at the DJ Science College which is one of the oldest structures in the city and an early on source of inspiration for the artist. “The architecture of the building is beautiful and calls out to anyone who has the slightest bit of an artistic inclination.”
Shahzad’s work does not miss out on the details he observed first hand and they’re not just in the faces, colours and arches on the paintings – he tries to capture the mornings at Empress Market when each sound drowns the other out, along with the lull of the evening at the PECHS Commercial Market when businesses are winding down.
Shahzad, who is a civil engineer and teaches art at the Rangoonwala Community Centre, says that he always finds time for Karachi. “I’ve walked around the city multiple times, but I know that there is still so much more for me to see,” he says. “The old city has such rich heritage. Many people don’t know this but the buildings you’ll find there belong to one of three – Hindu, Muslims and of course, the British.”
Colour me bright
For those who accuse Karachi of being only shades of grey as compared to other cities, Shahzad proves them wrong by highlighting the colours which make up the city’s multi-ethnic lifestyle. “Lahore and Karachi are very different. The former has big gardens, forts and some structures from the Mughal era. Its old city has been explored and even commercialised to some extent, but Karachi’s remains unattended.”
Shahzad’s previous works were “more monotone” as compared to his recent works at the Chawkandi Art in which he “experiments” with colours.
When asked if he would choose another city as his subject, Shahzad says that he might consider it in the future but stresses that he’s not done with Karachi yet. “I have a long way to go when it comes to this city’s architecture.”
The pieces start at Rs55,000.