After the Colonial period in the subcontinent, two new sovereign states based and divided on the grounds of ideology and two-nation theory, were to find their own path in every meaning of the word. After almost a century-long struggle for freedom, both India and Pakistan earned independence from the British Empire in 1947. However, the Colonial era had acculturated the South Asia in every way, from culture to tradition, from religion to ethics, from cultivation to transportation and from telecommunication to education.
The British rule institutionalized various skills and arts in this part of the world. JJ School of Arts in Bombay (now Mumbai) while Mayo School of Arts and Fine Arts Department of the Punjab University were established in Lahore to promote the enchanting visual culture of the Subcontinent.
The Department of Fine Arts was established under the Umbrella of the University of the Punjab Lahore in 1940 and Anna Molka Ahmed; a young British woman who, after getting married to Sheikh Ahmed had migrated and settled in Punjab, was selected as the first Head of the Department. Two other very talented, learned and capable women were also under consideration for this chair; Mary Roop Krishna and Razzia Serajuddin.
Today the Department of Fine Arts has earned the status of the College of Art and Design and offering different degrees in Painting, Design, Architecture and Art-History. This institution has produced many artists of matchless class and dignified styles whom the government of Pakistan has conferred upon, various awards of high reverence and repute.
Anna Molka Ahmed founded the Fine Arts Department of the University of the Punjab in 1940 and nurtured the first generation of Pakistani artists there. She assimilated western painting techniques, learned during her schooling in London, with indigenous themes and ideas that shaped modern art in Pakistan. Her roles as artist, educator, and administrator remain unparalleled.
She was awarded the Tamgha-i Imtiaz in 1963, the Pride of Performance in 1979, and the Quaid-i Azam Award in 1982.
Khalid Iqbal is the father figure of contemporary landscape painting in Pakistan. With his local palette, and western technique, learned at the Slade School in London, under the scholarship of Sir William Coldstream, he created a modern concept of time by controlling subtle tonalities of diffused light and shade. He is considered as the father of Modern Realism in Pakistan that ultimately shaped the modern school of landscape painting in Pakistan. Khalid’s style and his long years of teaching inspired many students to take up this genre, and to evolve it over the years.
His role in the development of art in Pakistan was marked with a Pride of Performance in 1980.
Colin David was one of the three students in the first class for men at the Department of Fine Arts, University of the Punjab, along with Sufi Waqar and Aslam Minhas. His stint at the Slade School of Art London in 1973, gave a fresh impetus to his work. His compositions of figures, combined with still-life objects in well controlled space, create a Surrealistic ambiance. Colin=s work exhibits the knowledge of human anatomy that introduced Pakistani art to the mystery, flair and balance of figural painting. With his smooth line, he crafted figures in landscapes and interiors. Colin received the Pride of Performance in 1995.
Shaukat Mahmood deals in lines; lines that talk and talk loudly, sarcastically and piercingly. After doing his Masters in Fine Arts from the Fine Arts Department, he went on to take a PhD in Islamic Architecture from Edinburgh University, UK. Currently, he is the Coordinator of the Research Center at the College of Art and Design. When he joined a newspaper as a cartoonist, he came into interaction with renowned poet Munir Niazi, who titled him as Maxim. As Maxim the Cartoonist, he appears daily in a Lahore based newspaper. As a social commentator, he has been commenting on very serious issues with his naughty lines and uproarious characters.
[email protected] received the Pride of Performance in 2001 and Sitara-i Imtiaz in 2010.
A.R. Nagori was often labeled as a colourful painter with dark themes. He was among those who had been inspired by the changing social and political scenario of our country. Nagori opened his eyes in the land of colours and thirst; Rajasthan. His art personified the desert owing to the broad panoramic vision he always had, while his style was as colourful as a rainbow, and as thirsty as the sand. Nagori breathed his last in 2010.
He was awarded the Pride of Performance posthumously in 2011.
Zulqarnain Haider fell in love with landscapes the moment he started to paint. Gradually, his style accepted new challenges of Modern Realism concerning study of light and its effects. His canvases display the true colour and texture of the terrain that he painted time and again. His work mirrors different climatic conditions and the changing seasons. Being a true student, and a follower, of Khalid Iqbal, he continued the legacy of his mentor.
Zulqarnain Haider, a graduate of the Department of Fine Arts of the Punjab University, also studied at the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-arts Paris, which nurtured his talents and skills.
Zulqarnain Haider was hounoured with the Pride of Performance in 2000.
Ghulam Rasul was obsessed with landscape painting that drove him to examine nature from a different point of view. He earned his MA Painting from the Department of Fine Arts and after doing MA Printmaking from Northern Illinois University, USA in 1973, he developed his own visual vocabulary by painting in flat colours; this technique ultimately resulted in modernizing his canvas by simplifying forms. At a time when perspective depth was in fashion, Ghulam Rasul concentrated on constructing a relationship between composition and the colour palette.
In 1986, Ghulam Rasul received the Pride of Performance.
Zubeda Javed, a former Chairperson of the Department of Fine Arts, is one of the first female painters of Pakistan to adopt semi-abstract and Impressionistic technique in landscape painting. She, with an intuitive colour sense and painterly brush, produced a unique and aesthetically strong display of colours coming out of deep backgrounds. Her painting style, based on imagination rather than on-spot realistic observations, encouraged the modern approach towards colour, composition and light in Pakistani art.
The Tamgha-i Imtiaz was conferred upon her in 2003.
Khalid Mahmood did his MA Fine Arts from the University of the Punjab, Lahore and then MA Art-History from Hawaii University, USA. His research on ‘Sikh murals of the Punjab’ earned him a doctorate from the University of the Punjab. He has served the Department of Fine Arts as Chairman. His interests, today are very much indigenous in terms of subject matter but modern styles of painting especially Impressionism, has always been an inspiration for his technique. His art displays a flowing brush movement and playfulness of colours.
He received the Pride of Performance 2006.
Ajaz Anwar, who holds a PhD in Muslim Architecture from Turkey, has visually documented the culture, the heritage and the festivities of Lahore in watercolour. He, with an intentional effort, tries to record the traditional architecture of the walled-city of Lahore. The sky in his paintings is often dabbled with the fresh shades of variegated kites flying over the architectural labyrinths of the Old City. Ajaz Anwar amalgamated his love for architecture and his passion for painting, in a way, that has become his own signature style.
In 1997, he was awarded the Pride of Performance.
Mian Ijaz ul Hassan is a painter with diverse themes. His interest and knowledge of English literature made him to think and act in accordance with new ideologies of the socio-political scene of Pakistan in the seventies. His figural paintings were rooted in communist and socialist doctrines. However, he not only dug up the fragile soil of his land but also sowed the seed of the yellow Laburnum (Amaltas) tree that blooms in the most unfavorable conditions. His socio-political canvases as well as his foliage paintings exhibit vivid and pure colours.
In 1992, his contribution in the field of art was acknowledged with the Pride of Performance.
Hasan Shahnawaz Zaidi is an artist, a poet, a singer and above all, a mentor who served the College of Art and Design as its principal. Commissioned portraits of national heroes have been his forte as a painter. He comments on socio-historical themes that are present in his poetry as well. Zaidi’s love for poetry and music has led him to a rhythmic quality of line and to the warmth in his palette.
The Government of Pakistan honoured him with the Tamgha-i Imtiaz in 1998. He received Pride of Performance in 2013.
Rahat Navee Masud, uses the female figure, as a vehicle, to express the ‘human condition’, seeking truth and spirituality in it. She is one of the chief exponents of the pastel medium in Pakistan having developed a unique style of working with pastels and gold leaf, mainly on hand made paper. After obtaining a Masters degree from the Fine Arts Department of the Punjab University Lahore, she went on to do her MA in Art and Design in 1995 and practice-led PhD in Fine Arts in 2010 from Kingston University London. She also served the College of Art and Design as its principal from 2009 to 2013.