San Diego-Based Sadequain Foundation Wins Accolades in Islamabad
By Dr Salman Ahmad


The occasion was launching of “Mystic Expressions by Sadequain – an Odyssey to Exaltation with Ghalib, Iqbal, Faiz and Sadequain,” SADEQUAIN Foundation’s eighth publication. The venue was the high security residence of the High Commissioner of Australia to Pakistan, where the High Commissioner Tim George and wife Geraldine George hosted San Diego, California-based SADEQUAIN Foundation for the book launch and an exhibition of twenty-four giclee reproductions of the artist’s works.

The book launch was attended by ambassadors from more than forty countries, including the United States, England, France, and Saudi Arabia along with high ranking officials from other foreign embassies and Pakistan’s senior government officials.

With the heightened negative sentiments toward Pakistan by most of the foreign press these days, it was a reprieve that expatriates living in Islamabad appreciated the best their host country has to offer.

Speaking on the occasion, the Australian High Commissioner emphasized that art and culture bring people of the world together and that Australia and Pakistan have held strong cultural ties in the past. He pointed out that Sadequain was himself a recipient of Australia’s cultural award in 1975 when he visited Australia on a cultural exchange program.

Mystic Expressions, a 12 X 12 inch hard cover coffee table book, is the first of its kind, which presents a collection of Sadequain’s illustrations and interpretations based on the select poetry of Ghalib, Iqbal, and Faiz. In addition, this book includes a comprehensive retrospect of his palette. The extraordinary collection of illustrative paintings and two large murals based on the poetry of Ghalib, Iqbal, and Faiz by Sadequain that are included in this book represent a confluence of the most extraordinary talent of the art and Urdu literature.

The verses that Sadequain selected to illustrate reflect various states of self-realization and consciousness. As archetypal expressions of mystic vision, these paintings transcend our latent susceptibilities. They hold a beacon to the path of enlightenment, guide through the gateway of spiritual freedom, and provide a conduit to transpersonal truth. In these paintings, Sadequain seeks to share his observations, experiences, and interpretations of the truth, and his relationship to the world around him and beyond through the poetry of his choice.

As a thinker, Sadequain was deeply interested in the issues that have challenged the best minds of the human race – the questions about the mysteries of the universe, meaning of life on our planet and beyond, role of human beings in the universe, freedom and self -determination, survival and progress, and the fine line between reason and emotion – even in his own poetry he deals with such issues.

Sadequain is known to have painted day and night all through his life. It is estimated he painted over 15,000 pieces. He recklessly lost most of his works. He did not keep an inventory and the traces of most of his works do not exist. The market value of his work is pegged at well over $800M. The SADEQUAIN Foundation has been engaged in exhaustive research to locate Sadequain’s murals, paintings, calligraphies and drawings, and to this day continues to do so. This book presents the illustrative works based on the poetry of Ghalib, Iqbal, and Faiz that have so far been discovered by the Foundation. There are many more yet to be discovered and thus the search goes on.

In a December 2009 article in the Pakistani daily newspaper DAWN, a prominent art personality was quoted as saying that, after a few decades or so, not many people (in Pakistan) would remember Sadequain, because by then, all traces of his work would be erased. It was a hurtful statement, but sadly may come true. In a manner similar to the cases of a few fortunate poets, who are immortalized by prominent singers, an artist’s work has to be kept alive by catalogs, exhibitions, and museums. This book is an attempt to salvage what is available at the moment. The SADEQUAIN Foundation regularly r eceives requests from scholars, professors, doctoral candidates, university and college students, as well as school students, who are engaged in research about Sadequain’s life and work. Dr. Pirzada Qasim, Vice Chancellor of Karachi University, stated in an article that Sadequain’s poetry should be the subject of research at the highest scholarly levels. Hameed Haroon of DAWN publications also made a similar statement about Sadequain’s art.

If art captures the pulse of the nation, then Sadequain had his finger on this pulse. During the 1960s, 70s, and 80s, in foreign lands, Sadequain’s art was considered one of the most effective ambassadors of the nation. Though Sadequain is no longer with us, his work still is. He used to say that he did not want his work to be locked in institutions, palaces, or residences. He wanted his art to be displayed in public for all to see. But that is not the case, not even close. His labor of love is locked behind closed doors and is decaying rapidly. If not preserved physically and cataloged professionally, the fear expressed in December 2009 by the prominent art personality may indeed come true.

The SADEQUAIN Foundation is a not-for-profit organization registered in the USA. It is dedicated to discover, preserve, and promote the art of Sadequain. In pursuance of its goals, the Foundation has executed exhaustive research to locate hundreds of pieces of Sadequain’s artwork in places as far flung as Singapore, Hong Kong, India, Middle East, Austria, Switzerland, France, England, USA, Canada, and more.

The Foundation is poised to publish the largest art catalog in the country comprising of 12 volumes of Sadequain’s work, spreading over 1,000 pages of text and over 1,800 selective images, it holds regular exhibitions of Sadequain’s works, and conducts seminars at museums and universities to raise awareness about Sadequain’s prodigious palette. The Foundation supports research on Sadequain’s life and work, and provides authentication with history, analyses, and prov enance.

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Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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