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Muslim Legends

Jamil Naqsh (Artist)

Jamil Naqsh was a Pakistani artist who was born in Kairana, Uttar Pradesh, India in 1938 and subsequently moved to Pakistan following the 1947 split. His paintings were widely displayed in Pakistan, India, the United Kingdom, and the United Arab Emirates. He receives numerous awards for his versatile art including Sitara-e Imtiaz, Pursuit of ‘Excellence Award, Pride of Performance Award by the government of Pakistan, and also honors with a Gold Medal by Pakistan Arts Council, Karachi.

In several of his paintings, Jamil Naqsh depicts the feminine body with poise and beauty. Pigeons and doves are paired with the feminine figure in another sequence of paintings, symbolizing love, serenity, and compassion. Another set of works, inspired by Italian sculptor Mario Marini’s work in which he caught the beauty of the horse, mixes the elegance of the naked woman with the strong grace of the equine shape.

Naqsh attended the National College of Arts (Formerly Mayo School of Arts) in Lahore but dropped out. He thought that art could not be confined by academic constraints, and that experience trumps intellectual qualifications. After leaving NCA in 1955, he began diligently pursuing various painting techniques under the guidance of Ustad Muhammad Sharif (Master of Miniaturist). Naqsh lived and worked in London, England, and was regarded as Pakistan’s sole living contemporary artist. His art depicts not just Pakistani culture, but also the culture of the whole Indian subcontinent, both Muslim and non-Muslim.

Signs, symbols, and pictures serve as motifs in his paintings, which are blended with sections of varied color, abstracted form, and graphic compositional methods. The rich contour of human, animal, and landscape features is expressed using Naqsh’s distinctive sinuous line. The majority of the images are of nude people, doves, bulls, and fish. The earth tones and tints are complemented by bright blues, reds, and yellows. Throughout the book, there are cryptic text pieces strewn about.

Naqsh began painting outside between 1958 and 1960. He painted Karachi and its surroundings, producing over 150 watercolors, most of which were lost in 1959 when the city was flooded by monsoon rains. Naqsh was and always will be a figurative artist. The human form provided him with the most aesthetic pleasure. All responsible artists, he argued, eventually return to the main center of their cultural heritage, while adding something new to it.

Naqsh’s art had been widely displayed in Pakistan, India, the United Kingdom, and the United Arab Emirates. He was Co-Editor of Seep, an Urdu literary journal, from 1960 to 1968, and President of the Pakistan Painters Guild from 1970 to 1973. Medals and honors from the Pakistan Art Council, Karachi; the Ministry of Culture, Pakistan; and the Arts Council of Pakistan are among the artist’s numerous honors. In 2003, the Mohatta Palace Museum in Karachi hosted a retrospective of his work, a rare distinction for a living artist. Naqsh died away on the 16th of May 2019 in London after a brief illness.


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