Sadequain was invited to visit Paris in 1960 and received numerous national awards; he was the laureate winner in the category ‘Artists under 35’ at the 2nd Paris Biennale in 1961 and was endowed with a scholarship to remain in Paris. The following years were key to his success internationally. This composition was painted in 1962 and marks the beginning of his career and fame in Europe and the start of his residencies at several galleries across Paris and London.
The artist believed that his paintings spoke for themselves and that viewers should interpret them as they wish. “I do not preplan or preconceive, but as the painting begins to unfold and the image begins to take form, so does the message behind the imagery, for that is the soul of my work.” (S. Ahmad, Sadequain: Resurrection of “Three Wise Men of the East” and Other Contemporary works, Alternative Publishing, U.S.A, 2009, p. 33). His interest lay not only in art but also in poetry and literature, as illustrated in his calligraphic series. He painted verses from Ghalib, Iqbal and Faiz amongst others.
This work renders Islamic iconography in a cubist manner. Although many of his paintings are considered to be claustrophobic, with every available surface packed with lines and forms, in this painting he covers the canvas with a clever composition in the center and the prudent use of space. The Arabic script, painted into non-representational forms is a brilliant example of his avant-garde employment of abstraction. Sadequain was also compared to Cubist artists such as Pablo Picasso, ‘The multiplicity of Sadequain’s gifts is reminiscent of Picasso.’ (Le Monde et La Vie, Paris, April 1964) By modernizing the ancient calligraphic techniques, he was also responsible for the renaissance of Islamic calligraphy in Pakistan.
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