SADEQUAIN

Born 1930, Amroha, India
Died 1987

B.A. in Art History, Agra University (1948)

Sadequain Naqqash was one of the first Pakistani artists to gain international recognition, embarking on his notable career with an award from the Biennale de Paris in 1961. The artist was born in Amroha,
India, descending from a family of Qu'ran scribes and is recognised as the foremost calligrapher and painter of Pakistan, responsible for the renaissance of Islamic calligraphy in the country since the late 1960s and bringing the artform into the mainstream. In the late 1940s, Sadequain joined the Progressive Writers and Artists Movement and through his career, produced works of thematic content reflected by his commitment to social justice, and the progressive ideals of his peers of writers and poets. On the eve of Partition, Sadequain painted anti-British, nationalistic slogans in Dehli and such
politically-charged works gained the artist a wider, responsive audience both abroad and in Pakistan among the 1960s intelligentsia.

Sadequain's unique visual vocabulary stemmed from the complex merging of Eastern (calligraphy) and Western (figurative) traditions in art, alongside Hindu and Muslim ideology. Sweeps of a calligraphic brush are echoed in the artist's flamboyant approach to painting figures but his forms and themes are partially biographical. Contortions to figurative style arose from his observation of wild, defiant cacti growing against the odds in the deserts of Gadani (Karachi) which left an indelible impression on the artist and his work. Colors used are simplistic, but are given strong structures through Sadequain's contrast of etched strokes.

In terms of Sadequain's work in calligraphy, outside of Quranic verses, the artist's affinity to literature resulted in works illustrating the classical poetry of Iqbal, Ghalib and Faiz. With the support of state
patronage, Sadequain completed many celebrated commissions, notably the ceiling of Lahore Museum and the ambitious mural "The Treasures of Time" for the State Bank of Pakistan, depicting the evolution of mankind and tracing the history of great intellectuals. Other commissions include
The Power House at the Mangla Dam, Geological Institute of India, Banaras Hindu University and Aligarh Muslim University. In 2003, a retrospective entitled "The Holy Sinner: Sadequain" was exhibited at the Mohatta Palace Museum, Karachi.

Sadequain died on February 10, 1987 in Karachi at the age of 57.

Select Solo Exhibitions

1981 International Trade Fair, New Delhi
Indian Council for Cultural Relations at State Lalit Kala Academy, Rabindra Bhawan, New Delhi
1970 Arts Council of Pakistan Karachi
Liaquat Memorial Hall, Rawalpindi
1966 Retrospective Exhibition of 300 paintings at the Banking Hall of the State Bank Headquarters, Karachi
1962 Galerie Lambert, Paris
1954-60 Held numerous one-man exhibitions at Quetta Residency, and in Karachi at Prime Minister H. S. Suhrawardy’s residence, Frare Hall, executed murals in Jinnah Central Hospital, Karachi Airport, Services Club, and Mangla Dam Committee Room

Select Group Exhibitions

1982 Kennedy Hall, Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh
Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi
Urdu Ghar, Hyderabad
Lalit Kala Academy, Lucknow, India
Ghalib Academy, New Delhi
1969 Arts Council Building, Karachi
1965 Several exhibitions in France including Nouran Havre, Palais de la Mediterranean, Chateau-Musee Annecy, Musee Casino Dieppe, Casino de Charbonnieres, and Musee Macon
Arts Council Gallery, Karachi; Alhamra, Lahore
1964 Galerie Presboug, Paris
1963 Commonwealth Institute Galleries, London
N.V.C. Gallery, London
5th Salon of the "Young and Great Artists," Museum of Modern Art, Paris

Awards

1982 International Gold Mercury Award
1962 Awarded president’s medal for Pride of Performance
1960 Awarded Tamgha-e-Imtiaz and First Prize in the All Pakistan National Exhibition of Paintings
Awarded Laureate Biennale de Paris by the International Jury of Critics