2015

Contemporary Paintings Gallery

Lahore Museum

Lahore Museum, Lahore, Pakistan

The museum has a unique collection of modern Pakistani paintings by well-known artists of the country and a good number of Bengal School paintings.

Sadequain Mural - Quest for Knowledge, 1973

This is the only complete ceiling mural ever made especially for the Lahore Museum by the renowned artist Sadequain, who has several massive murals to his credit. It stands as a testament to the great cultural and artistic heritage. The Mural comprises 44 panels, and the size of each panel is 8'x5.6". Its painter, Syed Sadequain Ahmed Naqvi was one of the great modern painters of Pakistan.

He was born in 1930 and died in 1987. He created and developed his own distinct style of his empathy with the sufferings of man and depicted the sorrow, decadence and degeneration of life in his paintings.

He used his art for promoting goodness, righteousness, progress, enlightenment, peace and happiness. In 1974 he painted this famous Mural in Lahore Museum and dedicated it to the labourers, farmers, poets, solders and beauties of Punjab.

A painting from Arabian Nights (Merchant of Oman) by Abanindranath Tagore, depicting an old man with a captivated look. It was acquired by Lahore Museum in 1935. 

Abanindranath was the founder of Bengal School of Art. He was born at Jorasanko, Calcutta in 1871 and died in 1951. He received his art education from Calcutta School of Art and learned from Ghilardi & Charles Pamier.

He also established Indian Society of Oriental Art to promote the oriental style of the painting based on the art of miniature and Japanese art of painting. He promoted the Eastern style of painting instead of European Academic style of Painting.

Abul Hasan by Abanindranath Tagore, 1935

This painting by A.R Asghar, and depicts a lady waiting for the Eid (Festival after the Islamic month of fasting) Moon. He is a contemporary of Abdur Rehman Chughtai and exhibited his work at Wembley London in 1924 with the group of artist belonging to Punjab, like Chughtai, Muhammad Hussain Qadri, Inayatullah and Abdur Rehman Ijaz.

He worked in the style of Bengal School of Painting with stylistic features with a local touch of Punjab, as can be seen in the facial expressions of the lady waiting for the Eid Moon.

Waiting for the Eid Moon by A.R. Asghar, Early 20th Century

A scene from Talism-e-Hoshruba (an early literary epic tale of magic and fantasy) was painted by Ustad Allah Baksh. He was born in 1885 and died in 1978. He was one of the earlier Masters of Pakistan. There is immense variety and layers in his work. Before Partition, he was famous as a Krishna painter in Bombay and Lahore.

After partition he painted the Punjab rural scenes in an idealized form, using subject like ploughing, threshing, harvesting, drawing water at the wells, wedding processions, festivals. 

He also painted legendary characters from the romantic folk stories of the Punjab. He creates a blend of romanticism and lyricism of the new classical period in his paintings.

Talism-e-Hoshruba by Ustad Allah Bakhsh, 1935

A poetess seated in a pavilion holding a book in her hand against a dark blue background, painted by Ustad Abdur Rehman Chughtai in early 20th Century. Chughtai is one of the greatest painter of Pakistan. He was born in 1894 and died in 1975 in Lahore.

Chughtai was a direct descendent of Emperor’s Shah Jahan chief architect Ustad Ahmed. He was appointed as a teacher of Photo Lithography in Mayo School of Art in 1916. In 1920 he participated in an exhibition of British and Indian Arts and Crafts at Lahore. In 1928 his first major work was published in form of Muraqqa comprising of a series of illustrations on the poetry of Ghalib and known as Muraqqa-e-Chughtai.

His paintings are based on dense line work. He used the technique of successive washes of water colour that creates a fanciful and misty effect. He painted pleasing, sweet, stylized figure of doe-eyed women.

A Night of Nishapur by A.R. Chughtai, Lahore, 1939 

An oil painting by Amrita Sher Gill, depicting two ladies playing a musical instrument called the Vina was acquired by Lahore Museum in 1938. Amrita Sher Gill was an eminent painter of the sub-continent. She was born in 1913 at Budapest, Hungry. She was trained as a painter in Italy and Paris at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts and drew inspiration from European painters such as Paul Cezanne and Paul Gauguin. 

She developed a distinctive style of painting. She mostly painted sad faces, dark bodies and deep-dark garment of poor Indians. She used orange for light areas and mauve in shades. She died in Lahore few days before the inauguration of her exhibition.

The Vina Player by Sardar Mohammad, 1937

This painting is also known as “Composition with Horses” is by Shakir Ali in 1959, a famous abstract artist of Pakistan. He is considered the founder of modernism in Pakistan. He was born in 1916 at Rampur and died in 1975 at Lahore. He received his art education at J.J School of Art Bombay (1937 to 1938), and Slade School of Fine Art, London (1946 to 1949).

He worked in Paris with Andre L’ Hote (1949 to 1950). He studied in School of Industrial Design Prague from 1950 to 1951. On returning, he joined the Mayo School of Arts, Lahore in 1952 as a teacher. He began to paint in Baroque style, but drew still life in a cubist manner.

Later he developed his own style in which he painted human figures, cattle, horses by reducing them to their very basic structure, in a few clear, bold and powerful lines. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Pride of Performance in 1967 and Sitara-e-Imtiaz (Sign of Distinction) in 1971.

Landscape with horses by Shakir Ali, Lahore, 1959

An oil painting by Zain ul-Abedin showing a sad condition of a mother and child during the famine that struck the Eastern wing of Pakistan of 1960. He born in 1917 and died in 1978.

He shot into fame in 1943 with the macabre and moving brush-and-ink drawings of the Bengal famine that killed about 3 million people.

His sensitive soul was the mirror of the rural life. He saw around him and his deft hands were the re-creator of the images of fisherman and farmers, river, boats and bullock carts.

Mother and Child by Zain ul-Abedin ,1960

A painting by Sardar Muhammad depicting a lady with pigeons which is symbolized as an association between beauty and love. He was born in 1918 in Faisalabad. He got his early art education from Mayo School of Art from 1934 to 1938. He studied at Parson School of Design in New York from 1949 to 1951.

On his return he started to paint the subject of folk life of Pakistan, such as village maidens carrying water, khattak dance, camel racing, tent pegging and dancing of horsing to the beat of drum. Traditional subjects, bright colour in elongated figures and textured background are the main characteristics of his paintings.

Pigeon Beauty by Sardar Mohammad, 1984

An abstract painting by Zubaida Agha depicts a window in bright yellow colour as a symbol of hope. She was born in 1922 and started her career in 1944. Her early work was as a surrealist, done in somber colours with titles like “wisdom”, “Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony”, “Deserted Street” etc.

In 1951 she went to Europe to receive art education. She began to paint compositions with simple figures in bright colour. After that she moved on to abstract paintings.

A window by Zubaida Agha, 1984

An oil painting by Prof. Anna Molka Ahmed, of a morning scene at the Old Campus, Department of Fine Arts, Punjab University, Lahore, Pakistan. This was acquired by Lahore Museum in 1988. Anna Molka Ahmed was a versatile artist. She born in 1917 in a Polish family in London. She got her art education from St. Martin School of Arts, London.

She got married to a Pakistani artist Sh. Ahmed and settled in Pakistan. In 1947 she setup the Department of Fine Arts at University of the Punjab, Lahore. She was awarded the highest Civil Award “Tamgha-e-Imtiaz” (Medal of Distinction) for her services in the field of Art and Education. Her work is characterized by vigorous swinging, slashing strokes, thick dabs paint with high values of colour.

Punjab University by Anna Molka Ahmed, 1988

A mosaic in lapis lazuli by Guljee depicting Players playing Polo at world highest polo ground in Shandur Festival Pakistan was acquired by Lahore Museum in 1985. This marvelous work was created by Ismail Guljee, who was one of the most famous abstract painters and calligrapher of Pakistan. He was born in Peshawar in 1926 and died in Karachi in 2007. He painted many portraits of dignitaries such as Sir Aga Khan, Zahir Shah, former King of Afghanistan, Farah Deeba, empress of Iran, Ayub Khan President of Pakistan etc.

He started his career as a hydraulic engineer and rose to fame as a portrait painter in 1953. Later he changed his style of painting and gained command over action painting in form of calligraphy. He loaded his brushes with more than one colour and swept it onto the canvas, leaving streaks of many colours in beautiful formations. He expressed himself in a very bold, expressive, flowing manner onto the canvas.

Polo Players by Gul Jee, 1988
Credits: Story

Curator — Sumaira Samad, Lahore Museum
Assisted by — Tariq Mehmood, Lahore Museum
Assisted by — Waqas Ahmad, Lahore Museum

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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