Husn-e-Jamil: Jamil Naqsh’s work ‘immortalised’ at his namesake gallery
KARACHI: There is an unspoken rule that if a street performer makes you stop and watch, you pay him for his performance. If that was the case with artists, one would have had to save up for half a lifetime to buy one of Jamil Naqsh’s calligraphic paintings.
These paintings were displayed at the Momart Art Gallery for the inauguration of Naqsh’s permanent gallery on Tuesday.
Calligraphic art might not be everyone’s cup of tea but Naqsh somehow manages to capture something that is more than just words and intangible lines in his paintings. His work is regal and yet keeps its common touch.
It is for the everyday man who can only admire its beauty and move on as much as it is for the art collector who will eventually end up buying it.
A small girl asked her father to take pictures of the paintings so she can draw them at home.
She wasn’t able to understand the words or the meaning behind them, nor did she have any clue about the genius behind each stroke – all she understood was that these paintings appealed to her on a level she could not quite comprehend, proving that one doesn’t need to be an art critic to be mesmerised by Naqsh’s work.
Edward Lucie-Smith’s book on Naqsh, titled ‘The Painted Word’, was also kept at the gallery. The book talks about the beauty of Naqsh’s calligraphy. Photographer Huma Asim summed up Naqsh’s work beautifully by calling it a ‘delicate mess.’
Talking to Naqsh’s only student, Chitra Pritam, the respect the artist commanded in his field was abundantly clear. When asked which of his Ustad’s paintings he liked the most, Pritam appeared to struggle with the answer. “By choosing a favourite, I would imply that the rest of his paintings are on a lower level,” he smiled. “How can a brilliant mind like that of Naqsh produce a weak painting? His work is immortal.”
Adil Salahuddin, an artist who was tutored by Naqsh’s teacher, Ustad Muhammad Shareef, also highlighted the wild contrast in Naqsh’s work. Salahuddin pointed to a painting and talked about how Naqsh had managed to capture the words of the holy book in such a ‘graphically modern’ manner.