It was a pleasant evening of 19 November 1972 when Sadequain came to the mela that was organized in Karachi to raise funds for our group “Budding Talents”. We had set up a stall where on payment of Rs. 5 to us, visitors were able to get their portrait made from the legend within few minutes on a full size sheet. According to The Leader-evening newspaper “There was a queue of colourful and excited women and fun-seeking teenage girls all of whom wanted the honour and for some it seemed the ecstasy, of being seated across the table with renowned artist Sadequain and getting themselves sketched by him”.
I was with Sadequain in the stall, which was obviously the most popular of the 25 stalls. It was enjoyable to observe that besides making portraits, the artist rewarded some charming females by reciting extempore quatrain on some aspect of their beauty. I witnessed this phenomenon later on other different occasions and realized that the extempore composition of exquisite verses was a hallmark of Sadequain. To commemorate his 30th death anniversary, we at Gallery 6 made a choice to focus on his poetry rather than paintings or calligraphy. The decision was to have a painting exhibition on selected verses, but inviting artists for figurative work was not considered appropriate as Sadequain himself have produced a book illustrating his quatrains. No other imagery would have been attractive enough in comparison to what the artist has done himself for his verses. Hence, we took a very unique and challenging route and considered inviting an artist to paint the poetry in abstract.
Fariya Zaeem was chosen as she is a contemporary expressionist painter having a degree in Communication Design from the Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture. Her paintings carry strength of lyrical abstraction conveying s a sense of spiritual outlook. Her artwork is more about a desire to communicate concepts, thoughts, ideas, and emotions abstractly, beyond merely exploring art principles of composition, tone, value, line, hue, texture, etc.
On being given this challenge, initially she was initially overwhelmed but then became curious and felt honoured to paint the essence of the Legend’s quatrains in her style. She took several months to produce 25 beautiful works that were displayed at Gallery 6 last month in a solo show titled “Naqqash se kuch bo raha hai qartas”. This was her fourth solo exhibition besides six group exhibitions. At the inauguration, she stated without any hesitation that it has not only been a unique but also an evolutionary experience for her in attempting to capture the true spirit of the verse in each dedicated painting.
Paintings in the exhibition involved the viewers with striking expressionism evoking spirit of the quatrain or verse for which it was painted. Painting on verse “han apni spaeedi ki zaban se yani … naqqash se kuch bol raha hai qartas” has the movements of brush strokes creating an impression as if an energy in white paper urging artist to paint. The texture and colours are soft adding sensations of whispers. The composition and colours of a diptych done on the verse “aik phool ke mazmoon ki khatir yani …alfaz ke kantoun mein houn uljha hua mein” makes one visually enjoy the beauty of poetry. Similarly, “Mein apnay firaq mein bahut hi tarpa …khud mujh ko meri yaad jo aai kal raat” arouses the agony of “tarap” through movement of black flowing colour in different grades. Likewise, there were many others that draw significant attention and pleasantly surprised the viewers by success of the artist in her unique endeavour.
Watercolour is Fariya’s preferred medium as she enjoys the translucent effect it brings to the substrate. She painted with variety of techniques applying wet-on-wet, dry-on-wet, shrink-wrap, bubble-wrap, dry flat, bleeding effects and range of brush strokes. One sees that she also enjoyed the juxtaposition of both watercolours and acrylics to bring paradoxes and contradictions in her work. She believes that merging of two opposites brings an interesting procreation on the substrate such as the play of transparency and opaqueness, dark and light or ying and yang. With these multiplicity and range of techniques, she has established herself as a very talented abstract painter, who is gaining stature with each exhibition and this solo has added a very colorful feather in her hat.