Remembering Syed Sadequain Ahmed Naqvi on his 87th Birthday

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Sadequain was best known for his independent real creative art and novice trends in Islamic Calligraphy. His international recognition was due to the introduction of new initiatives and trends in art and particularly poetic calligraphy which was almost nonexistent then. His original superb themes and huge murals dwarf many and some are still regarded as matchless in the world.

He was a self-made, self-taught painter, completely untraditional and above all, shows no signs of being inspired by any other master of art who lived before him or at his time. Sadequain was a master genius of his own self-inspired school of thought and different from other great artists like Michael Angelo and Leonardo da Vinci. This fact was proved later by the performance presented by him in his early life.

He believed in realism and lyricism. He was miles away from imaginary fairytale, flower and fauna themes and stuck to basic worldly realities till his last day. The Novice style of his presentation of Quranic and Poetic verses created an everlasting impact on Pakistani Art. The once non-existent calligraphy has changed into a culture and this new introduction is still flourishing beyond bounds and spreading inspiration worldwide, even after a quarter century beyond his death. Now his style and his paintings are also being copied extensively in Pakistan. In fact, this piracy is promoting his school of thought, unnoticed.

Sadequain once saw a tough cactus tree growing and flourishing in a desert. He was spiritually impressed by the difficult lifestyle in extreme tough surroundings of this self-growing plant. This impression is often reflected in Sadequain’s tough and rugged human figures that seem unnatural, but actually, he intended to expose the rigid uneven patterns of the life spent by the deprived. His works and productions are discernable and can easily be singled out. His unique independent style, objective concepts and presentation modes cannot be stolen by just putting on new names – but can only be copied along with his signatures.

Sadequain painted thousands of paintings, drawings, and murals in his lifetime. He hardly ever sold his work and mostly gave it away; sometimes his work was simply taken, and sometimes even stolen. In his lifetime there were two galleries named after him by the authorities, but they no longer exist.

PIA owned Mid-Way House hotel had a big Sadequain’s painting at entrance and lot of other art work by renowned Pakistani artists. After the sale of the hotel, all that art treasure is not on display or submitted to any art gallery.

Sadequain received well deserved following decorations:

1960 – Government of Pakistan –  Tamgha-e-Imtiaz

1961 – Government of France –    Biennale de Paris

1962 – President of Pakistan  –  President’s Medal of Honor

1975 – Government of Australia – Cultural Award

1980 – Government of Pakistan  – Sitara-e-Imtiaz

Many Newspapers often carry special features on him. The French Le Monde appreciates his talents comparing him to famous Picasso. The New York Times describes his difficult artistic trends as ‘Upside Down Artist’ and calls him Pakistan’s Pride. UAE News appreciates his tremendous success and comments that crowds are attracted to all his exhibitions.

The ultimate Pakistani Art Legend ‘Sadequain’ breathed his last on 10th February 1987, leaving his last mural ‘Arzo-Samawat’ (Heaven and Earth) at Frere Hall Karachi, incomplete. He is buried in Sakhi Hassan graveyard.

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