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Lot Details

Signed 'Jamil Naqsh' (lower left)

Albemarle Gallery, London

Jamil Naqsh and the eternal feminine, Pontone Gallery, London, 2017, p. 49 (illustrated)

As an artist, Jamil Naqsh believes that all responsible artists eventually return to the core of their cultural traditions; while adding something new to them. This explains Jamil's single-minded exploration of a personal idiom based on both the Mughal miniature tradition and ghazal.

Part of the Eternal Feminine series, the current lot depicts a close-up portrait of a beautiful young woman accompanied by a pigeon, two of Naqsh's favorite subjects. Here, the bird serves the role of a messenger while also signifying longing, isolation, and love. Sentiments that are pervasive in ghazal poetry and serves as the main motif of his work. The warm sepia monochrome he used lends the picture a tranquil and meditative quality. This imagery also reflects on Jamil's own personal metaphor. Art critic and historian Edward Lucie-Smith posits, "the work offers a touching footnote to the culture from which the painter comes but which he has now left behind, to live in near isolation within the boundaries of a very different cultural situation." (Jamil Naqsh - and the Eternal Feminine, Exhibition Catalogue, Pontone Gallery, London, 2017, unpaginated)

Jamil Naqsh

(1939 - 2019)
Born in 1939, in Kairana in Uttar Pradesh, India, Jamil Naqsh moved to Karachi in Pakistan following the partition of the subcontinent in 1947. In 1953, he enrolled at the National College Art (then Mayo College) in Lahore, but did not complete his education there, leaving after two years to study art on his own. Naqsh’s mature style is a blend of cubism – in the way he treats form and texture – tempered with fluidity and a subtle use of colour. Naqsh has painted the female form in many of his canvases replete with poise and grace. In another series of paintings he pairs pigeons and doves with the female form, symbolic of love, peace and gentleness. One more series of works, inspired by the Italian sculptor Mario Marini, who captured the beauty of the horse in his work, combines the elegance of the nude female with the sturdy grace of the equine figure. Naqsh’s work has been exhibited extensively in Pakistan, India, the UK and the UAE. Between 1960 and 68 he served as Co-Editor of Seep, an Urdu literary magazine, and between 1970 and 73 as President of the Pakistan Painters Guild. Among the artist’s many honours are medals and awards from the Pakistan Art Council, Karachi; the Ministry of Culture, Pakistan; and the Arts Council of Pakistan. In 2009, Naqsh was awarded the Sitara-e Imtiaz by the Government of Pakistan, and in 2003, a retrospective of his work was held at the Mohatta Palace Museum in Karachi, a rare honour for a living artist. Naqsh passed away on May 16, 2019 after a sudden and brief illness, at St. Mary's hospital in London. He is recognized as one of the most important painters from Pakistan.