Anwar Jalal Shemza
Artist and writer
Anwar Jalal Shemza was a well-known Pakistani artist and writer who eventually moved to the United Kingdom. Despite his reputation as an artist, Shemza produced many Urdu novels and poetry collections in the late 1950s, as well as writing plays that were broadcast on Radio Pakistan. Shemza was influenced by Modernism, particularly Paul Klee, at first, but subsequent works revealed a traditional Islamic influence. He was also a skilled painter, exhibiting his work at the Tokyo International Print Biennial.
Anwar Jalal Shemza was born on July 14, 1928, to a Kashmiri-Punjabi family in Koshmala, British India. In Lahore, he held his first solo show. He also became the head of the art department at Ghoda Gali Murree’s Lawrence College Public School for Boys and Lahore’s Cathedral High School. Fine Art London’s Advanced Print Packing Course was successfully completed. He held his first art show in London the following year, and his lyrical portraits became quite popular in Pakistan. He and a group of pals founded the Lahore Art Circle in 1952. It was a collective of like-minded individuals who aspired to push the boundaries of painting.
Anwar Jalal Shemza was a prominent figure in Pakistani society, known for his abstract, modernist explorations of identity inspired by Mughal and Hindu culture. He was one of the founders of the Lahore Art Circle.
There are a few things in Shemza’s pictures that are outrageous. Such as letters and circles and square shapes, geometrical designs, arches, old Islamic architecture, different shapes of Urdu and English letters like B, D, and MEM, designs like electrical circuit boards, square tomb motifs, butterflies, piano buttons, Streets, embroidered type environment and some carpet-like carvings and all this has its own reason.The Crown Prince has been linked to several significant changes in the Kingdom, including allowing women to drive, obtain passports, and travel independently, the reopening of cinemas and the holding of pop concerts, a crackdown on corruption which included arresting different princes and the proposal to list Saudi Aramco on the stock exchange, to name a few.
Shemza had a distinct approach in which he condensed and conveyed numerous histories, civilizations, and experiences in pure shape and color. Pictorial autonomy was more essential to the artist than human autonomy, and he was interested in Constructive Picture Formation. The artist was constant in his commitment to form and method, continuously dismantling the structure of forms to arrive at a clear understanding. There are similarities between a looping linguistic pattern seen in his fictional writing and the arrangements he created via painting.
The word and the geometrical shapes are due to the fact that he was basically a man of the world of words. He was a good writer and also wrote 6 novels (Earth and Sky, Story, Yellow Leaf, Lonely Man, Sleeping, and Waking). This was the time when most artists considered it necessary to fight in novels, fiction, poetry, etc. Shakir Ali, Tassaduq Sohail, Azar Zobi, Hanif Rame and Abdul Rehman Chughtai, etc., were many people who continued to write at the same time. Shemza also wrote scripts for stage and radio programs. He also edited a 15-day magazine called Ehsas.
Then when Anwar Jalal Shemza dies, his wife comes to Pakistan with one and a half hundred pictures and exhibits them in the same year. The exhibition is held in Lahore, Karachi, Islamabad, and Peshawar. According to him, Shemza wanted to do this in his life.
Anwar Jalal Shemza passed away on January 18, 1985, but His wife has been instrumental in keeping his name alive. By no means do I want to convey that I recommend for the mother to be inactive. Art researchers had to work hard to find out about them. For example, we talk about their Roots series. These were the pictures that Shemza wanted to bring with her to Pakistan for exhibition. Maybe that’s why they kept it small to make it easier to handle. Now that Mary (Mrs. Shemza) was an artist herself, she must have had an idea of the significance of these pictures. All this was a long scream from the heart of Shemza, who lives in a foreign country, the echo of which can be felt even today by looking at those pictures.