(1916 - 1975)
Shakir Ali is one of the most esteemed abstract artists that came from Pakistan. He was born in British India in 1916 but later chose to live the majority of his life in Lahore, Pakistan as an art educator. Regarded as the artist who introduced cubism in Pakistan, he paved the way for the development of modernism in Pakistani art.
Ali began his career at the studio of Sarda Ukil in Delhi, where he painted for a year before joining the Sir J.J. School of Art in Bombay in 1938 to pursue a formal education in art. He later moved to London in 1946 to attend the prestigious Slade School of Fine Arts. Afterwhich, he worked in Paris with André LHote, a popular French cubist artist and teacher, before leaving for Prague to train in textile design.
After his education, Shakir returned to Lahore and joined the Mayo School of Art in 1954 as a lecturer. He eventually served as the first Pakistani principal of the institution from 1961 until 1973. Notably, he was instrumental in changing the name of the art school from Mayo School of Arts to the present name, National College of Arts in 1958. While there, inspired and nurtured numerous up-and-coming artists who would later become huge artists in their own rights, including Jamil Naqsh, Ahmed Pervez, and Bashir Mirza among many others. In 1966, he was awarded the Pride of Performance Award by the President of Pakistan.
The artist passed away in 1975. The Pakistan National Council of the Arts (PNCA) posthumously inaugurated the Shakir Ali Museum in Lahore in his memory the same year.