Art for a noble cause

Muhammad Zahid Rifat

IT is quite commendable that the artists as well as some welfare organizations are using their creative art work for one or the other noble cause apart from merely being source of pleasure for the onlookers visiting the art galleries where their art work is displayed from time to time. Few days back, Shakir Ali Museum of the Pakistan National Council of the Arts (PNCA) in New Garden Town was the venue of such an art exhibition.
The PNCA has its headquarters in Islamabad and regional office at the Shakir Ali Museum which houses personal belongings of father of modern art and former Principal of the National College of Arts Shakir Ali who had constructed the bungalow with semi-burnt bricks and could not live there for long. The PNCA in collaboration with Hubbullah Welfare Society organized a group exhibition appropriately titled “Inner Palette Journey to Healing through Art”. The unique and appreciable purpose of the exhibition was to donate art work for cancer-affected families from the artists community. A number of young artists from different educational institutions along with some senior artists had joined hands with Hubbullah Welfare Society and displayed their art works. More than 30 paintings by 26 artists were on display in the group exhibition.
Artists whose creative art work was put on display for a noble cause included Amna Ismail Pataudi, Rahat Qawi, Sara Riaz Khan, Sadia Sajid, Faiza Taufique, Shireen Rasul, Fatima Naeem, Beenish Khan, Arham bin Asif, Saima Asghar, Raja Najamul Hassan, Sumaira Cheema, Farooq Siyal, Ruqqaiyya Haq, Imran Ali, Noorul Ain Khwaja, Sana Naeem, Syeda Iffat, Hira Siddiqui, Sadia Hussain, Maham Mehboob, Fatima Malik, Fahim Babar, Fatima Muzammil, Fareeha Mobin Karamat, Sehrish Mazhar, Tahir Zaman and Aasiya.
A colourful ceremony jointly by both the PNCA and Hubbullah Welfare Society marked the formal inauguration of the group art show which continued for some days in appreciation and encouragement of the young artists who were participating in this noble cause. Hubbullah Welfare Society Patron-in-Chief Dr Ahsan Waris was the chief guest on the occasion while prominent cartoonist Javed Iqbal, Hubbullah Welfare Society President Ehsanur Rehman, well-known artist Ghulam Mustafa and Shakir Ali Museum Director Amna Pataudi were the key speakers.
They said that Pakistani artists have always stood next to the nation in critical times through their intellectual and mature contributions at various levels. Amna Pataudi said that PNCA’s Shakir Ali Museum has always been encouraging artists in promotion of social awareness through workshops and art residency programmes quite regularly. Number of young artists who spoke on the occasion also said that the exhibition titled “Inner Palette Journey to Healing through Art” was all about promoting peace, love and unity among the civil society and is urging the masses at large to serve the humanity by donating art without any discrimination and that the senior artists should also participate in this noble cause.
Like father like daughter
The proverb like father, like son is often used to describe a son who is stepping in the shoes of his father and excelling in the field like his father had done.
But this proverb is being used here with some amendment to say like father like daughter in the context of an artist father and her artist daughter. Father was well-known artist Ahmed Zoay and his artist daughter is Faryal Azhar Zoay. I had not had the opportunity of meeting Ahmed Zoay who expired couple of years back in 2014 at the age of 67 years. But I have met artist daughter Faryal couple of times through the courtesy of my good old friend and world-renowned artist, social crusader and peace activist Jimmy Engineer. Faryal had been living in Model Town Lahore with her in-laws for many years and for the last couple of years, she was in Islamabad where her husband Malik Azhar Nadeem is working as a Consultant for Middle East and North Africa Region with International Finance Corporation (IFC), a subsidiary of the World Bank Group which provides financial assistance to the private sector.
Faryal was visiting her in-laws, who hail from a distant village of Mianwali, and also visit some art galleries to explore possibility of displaying her creative art in a solo exhibition or group show. And, I had a meeting with her when she visited my residence. It is worth mentioning here that her in-laws despite hailing from a village of Mianwali have mot objected to her activities as an artist . Faryal Azhar is an emerging artist , gradually becoming known among the art circles as well as art lovers, and has explored desire, sexuality and hope through different materials and mediums playing with bright and cheerful colours.
Faryal is a self-taught who started painting at a very young age . Her earlier works were mostly images of female body highlighting different aspects of sexuality, pain, deception and an array of emotions as major themes. Faryal had begun painting when she wasjust a toddler, duly encouraged by her father as she used to play with colour tubes and canvases and even though she did not get to much time with him, her relationship with her artistic expression continued to grow with passing time.
She later joined “Hunerkada” a prominent art school in Lahore which helped her brush her artistic skills and experiment with more mediums. In her more recent works she has quite successfully and impressively experimented with abstraction using different figures and bold colours reflecting hope, passion, joy and peace. Faryal’s paintings depict her emotional journey through life in transition from an abandoned child to a mother building a new family. The images form a record of physical and psychological navigation: combination of moments of consciousness over days, months and years.
Faryal’s work is also influenced by Ahmed Zoay, her father with whom she had spent limited time but still that has lasting impact on her work. After his death in 2014, Faryal continues the legacy of bright colours with her individual style of refreshing themes , subtle lines and clear strokes. Her earlier has been displayed at multiple young artists exhibitions. After a short break she is now producing more art work which is exhibiting through her Facebook page, local galleries and has plans in hand to hold a major solo exhibition in Pakistan and abroad somewhere in due course of time. Her husband’s positing in foreign countries periodically will obviously provide her such a much desired opportunity.
It is interesting to mention here that Ahmed Zoay had two daughters, Mah Rukh and Faryal, and both are painters. Faryal expresses herself in Zoay’s decorative tones without the infused venom of his perceptions. Mah Rukh, who is based in London, infuses the venom with some of her own and splashes it on her canvas. So, it is not just like father, like daughter but in all fairness, like father Ahmed Zoay , like daughters Mah Rukh and Faryal.
International book fair
And in conclusion, here is a good news for the book lovers though book reading habits are gradually declining over the years for varying reasons. Prior to the 70th Independence Day celebrations on August 14, an International Book Fair is being held at the Expo Centre in Lahore for couple of days in the first week of next month. It is good to note that for many years, the Book Fairs are regularly being held in the provincial metropolis though the venue has changed from Alhamra Art Centre to the Expo Centre to provide more space for books display to the local and foreign publishers and also more space for the visitors whose number is appreciably increasing every year. At such book fairs, the books are mostly sold at discounted prices and this certainly encourages the people particularly with somewhat limited resources to buy couple of books of their like though the pretty large number of books on all subjects and languages under the sun make the choice pretty difficult.

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