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Lot Details

Signed 'Jamil Naqsh' (lower right)

Albemarle Gallery, London

Jamil Naqsh: an artist between three cultures, Albemarle Gallery, London, 2016 p. 41 (illustrated)

Jamil Naqsh is one of the best-known artists of modern Pakistan. A master draughtsman, the backbone of his art is his profound understanding of texture, light and space.

Intrinsically a figurative painter and a trained miniaturist, his artwork tends to depict the female form, which is often paired with pigeons and other subjects of nature. While the subject matters is his work maybe deliberately restricted, his paintings have been grounded in rich tradition.

As in this particular painting, Naqsh portrays a beautiful and seemingly isolated human accompanied by a pigeon. The pigeon, a traditional signifier of love in the culture he comes from, is seemingly perching from a flight, the bird’s role as messenger implied. This expression of romantic love usually connotes separation rather than union. Such sentiments are often pervasive in 'ghazal' poetry which is a significant source of his oeuvre. The painting speak eloquently of the romantic feeling of longing for the object of love and possibly the message the pigeon brings. Like most of his works, this painting depicts a model caught unaware of the presence of an onlooker, caught in oblivion. Essentially in a muted palette, the surface becomes the supreme obsession of the painter who manipulates his marks, textures and tones through his well-honed virtuoso skills.

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.