Sadequain in Koochaiye Khayyam- An Evening of Poetry & Paintings

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“Sadequain could make letters dance with grace”

Karachi, October 4, 2015: In Celebration of IBA’s 60th Anniversary, an evening of Sadequain’s unseen works and poetry was organized at the Jahangir Siddiqui Auditorium, City Campus, IBA.

On this magical evening, the audience at the Jahangir Siddiqui Auditorium witnessed the multiple facets of Sadequain’s talents. Guided by a panel of distinguished speakers, Sadequain was painted anew in the minds of the audience. Mr. Sibtain Naqvi, Sadequain’s grandson commenced the event by introducing the panel which consisted of Dr. Ishrat Husain, Dean & Director IBA, Mr. Fakir Syed Aijazuddin, Ms. Niilofur Farrukh and Dr. Syed Nomanul Haq, as well as the legend himself. Yes, Sadequain Ahmed Naqvi was very much there in spirit; his painting stood proudly occupying one corner of the stage reminding the audience that Sadequain still lives through the legacy that he left behind.

Addressing the audience Dr. Ishrat Husain welcomed the audience to this unique evening of art & heritage and stated, ‘A country and a nation, which does not remember and honor the contributions of its painters, musicians, writers and poets - that nation will not go very far.’ His emphasis on continuing this tradition was supported by the announcement of the inaugural of the gallery in Aman tower at IBA city campus that is hosting Sadequain’s paintings from 5th till 11th October, which could also act as a platform for budding artists. Dr. Ishrat also said, ‘We want our students to be first human beings and then professionals, that’s why IBA has introduced 8 Liberal Arts courses in its curriculum …. Not everyone wants to be a businessman or a scientist, parents should let the children decide their professions themselves and for this reason a full-fledged Social Sciences program was introduced at IBA. This exhibition is IBA’s step forward to reach out to the community and thus interact with the masses’. Dr. Ishrat also thanked Mr. Sibtain and his family for providing Sadequain’s unseen artifacts for this exhibition.

An introduction to the event and to the legendary artist Sadequain was made by Mr. Sibtain Naqvi. Sadequain Ahmed Naqvi was born in Amroha in 1930, he was a world-renowned calligrapher and painter. He was awarded the Tamgha-e-Imtiaz and the Sitara-e Imtiaz by the Government of Pakistan as well as the Biennale de Paris by the Government of Paris and the Cultural Award by the Government of Australia. Mr. Sibtain Naqvi shed light on Sadequain’s early life and the context in which the artist’s talents flourished. While discussing the issue of the numerous duplications and reproductions of Sadequain’s works, Mr. Naqvi said, ‘Having a Sadequain is a privilege because it was given out of an act of love. It should be shared with people, not 20 but 2000 of them!’ He called the event ‘A much needed exercise to reclaim the heritage for the coming generation’.

Mr. Naqvi also said, ‘The world knows Sadequain as a painter, muralist and calligrapher. He was a veritable tour de force of art, a Renaissance Man equally in his element whether drawing Quranic ayahs or pagan gods. The world knows and appreciates this versatility but Sadequain the painter was also Sadequain the poet. His family background almost dictated that he follow his poetic heritage and so he became equally adept at the form of Urdu poetry known as the rubaiye, which happens to be the most difficult form of Urdu Poetry. To showcase this hitherto undiscovered aspect, IBA has arranged this elaborate exhibition of Sadequain’s poetic works as part of its 60th Year celebrations. This event is a homage to Sadequain’s memory by his family and IBA which reveres his contribution to art and culture.’

The event was hosted primarily to bring to light not just Sadequain’s paintings but also his ruba’iyat and to give his works their due credit; it also turned out to be an eve of reminiscence for most speakers. The audience heard bits and snippets of the painter’s life through the anecdotes shared by Mr. Fakir Syed Aijazuddin, Dr. Nomanul Haq, Ms. Niilofur Farrukh and Mr. Naqvi, while talking about his ruba’iyat, recounted, ‘I saw him sitting on the ground in the national museum of Lahore surrounded by his paintings.’

Mr. Aijazuddin, on the other hand, recalled one of the artist’s quotes from the 1970’s, ‘People ask me why I don’t paint flowers and butterflies, I tell them I’m after reality; I’m not a drawing room artist.’ Mr. Aijazuddin then delved into a discussion of the different aspects of Sadequain’s paintings and poetry. While recalling Sadequain as a portraitist, he stated, ‘His were not meant to be realistic portraits but expressions of feminism and beauty.’ On a lighter note, he added later on that Sadequain never really learned how to draw!

In Ms. Niilofur Farrukh’s words, ‘Sadequain took art out of the studio and took it to the common man on the street, he remained an enigmatic figure that was frail yet a powerhouse of an artistic figure. Sadequain tried to make sense of the world through his art.’

The event was brought towards an end with the recital of Sadequain’s ruba’iyat by the veteran TV actor, Mr. Talat Hussain, which was then followed by the inaugural of the gallery on the 5th floor of the Aman Tower at IBA City Campus. The gallery is open for the public viewing of Sadequain’s exhibition from 11: 00 AM to 7: 00 PM from 5th till 11th October.