Rashid Arshed: An Innovative Pakistani Artist
By Dr Tahira Nasreen

Rashid Arshed is a well-known artist of Pakistan. He studied art at Mayo School of Art, Lahore; Rarsons School of Design, New York; and Rutgers University, New Jersey. He obtained his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in History from Karachi University. Rashid Arshed has served as Principal of Central Institute of Arts and Crafts Karachi and as Head of Fine Art Department, Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture.

Rashid Arshed’s paintings are known for their innovative style based on Islamic calligraphy. He is one of the earliest exponents of a style known as contemporary calligraphy. The emphasis in his work is not on the literal meaning of the text; instead, he explores the aesthetics of the noble art of calligraphy.

The artist exploits the pictorial language of color line and texture instead of words and phrases. He expects the audience to see his paintings, as they would see any other work of art, instead of trying to read and search for textual context.

Rashid Arshed migrated to the USA in 1975 and lived in the New York metropolitan area. In 1977, The Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art hosted an exhibition of artists from nine North Eastern States. Rashid Arshed’ work was included. Since then, his work has been shown in many art galleries and museums in the United States, UK, Germany, Belgium, Rome, Madrid, Bombay, and, of course, Pakistan. He has won several coveted awards for his work which includes the First Prize by Union County New Jersey, Best of Show Award, New Jersey Art Center and most recently, Life Time Achievement Award given by Pakistan Arts Council Los Angeles in collaboration with the Pacific Asia Museum, Los Angeles. The Chaffey Community Mujeum of Art Ontario, CA acquired one of his works for its permanent collection.

Color, Texture and line are the basic elements of Rashid Arshed’s paintings. Besides predominant red, he also uses various hues and tints of blue which he borrows from Islamic architecture. The bold, black and white in some of his compositiosn depict t simplicity and mysticism. At times, he leaves a lot of blank space in his paintings which he describes as solitude.

Rashid Arshed explains that blank space is no less important than used space. In fact, blank space is more inviting and intriguing. He further explains that the space in a painting is like a ‘pause’, the most dramatic and majestic note in music.

Besides being an artist of international renown, Rashid Arshed has authored three books consisting of satirical essays in Urdu which have received rave reviews from critics like Prof. Seher Ansari and Ghazi Salahuddin.

Since 2009, Rashid Arshed has settled in Los Angeles area and lives in Montclair, a suburban town. His first solo exhibition in the West Coast is being hosted by the Claremont Community Foundation and is to be held at the Claremont Chamber of Commerce. The Exhibition will open on August 6, 2016 and continue through August 31. For more information about the exhibit please visit the facebook of Pakistan Arts Council Los Angeles or call 909 212 4350.

 

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Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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