Modern and Contemporary painter
Ali Imam was born in the year 1924in Narsinghpur, Madhya Pradesh. He attended the Nagpur School of Art in the early 1940s for his art studies. After that, he spent two years at the Bombay-based ‘J. J. School of Art.’ Ali Imam and members of Ali Imam’s family moved to Pakistan when Pakistan gained independence in 1947. The President of Pakistan has given him the Tamgha-i-Imtiaz, or Pride of Performance award.
There, he became connected with the Progressive Writers Movement and the Pakistan Communist Party, for which he paid a high price. In the early 1950s, he was imprisoned three times for his socialist beliefs. He had earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Punjab in Lahore in 1949.
Ali Imam and members of Ali Imam’s family moved to Pakistan when Pakistan gained independence in 1947. He became associated with the Progressive Writers Movement and the Communist Party of Pakistan in a newly formed country and paid a high price for it. In the early 1950s, he was imprisoned three times for his socialist beliefs.
He was also under regular police monitoring in Lahore because of his political ideas. As a result, he relocated to London and spent over eleven years there. From 1959 to 1960, he studied art at Saint Martin’s School of Painting in London, and from 1962 to 1963, he studied art at Hammersmith College of Art in London.
Imam built the Indus Gallery in Karachi in 1971 after returning from London, and it is still one of Pakistan’s leading art galleries today. The name ‘Indus Gallery’ was inspired by the Indus River in ancient India, which is currently in Pakistan. This river provided water to one of South Asia’s oldest towns, Mohenjo-Daro, which is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Ali Imam established the Indus Gallery to promote Pakistani art and artisans. “I chose to return back to Pakistan and be helpful to people who are brighter and more talented than me, and to establish an atmosphere of work where I could be a type of guidance and help,” he once stated in an interview.
Shahnaz, his wife, described how the Indus Gallery had been a cultural hotspot in Karachi in the 1970s. Sadequain and Ismail Gulgee were among the well-known painters who took part in Indus Gallery exhibitions, among many others. After his death in 2002, his widow, Shahnaz, took over as director of the Indus Art Gallery in 2010. At the Indus Art Gallery in Karachi, he was an art critic, art advocate, and art educator for numerous artists. From 1971 to 2002, he was the owner of this gallery.
Ali Imam died of a heart attack in Karachi on May 23, 2002. Shahnaz, his wife, and their two children were left behind. Many art galleries where he had worked for many years, including the Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture, the Pakistan Art Institute, and the Arts Council of Pakistan, expressed their sadness at his loss.
“When I returned from England, where I had gone to study, I realised that Ali Imam had taught people to appreciate art, enjoy art, and, more importantly, buy artworks,” Salima Hashmi, a noted Pakistani educationist and the daughter of Pakistan’s renowned poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz, said in an interview with a major English-language newspaper.