• 28 Apr - 04 May, 2018
  • Marjorie Husain
  • Art

Crescent Art Gallery is the name bestowed on a large and varied collection of artworks belonging to the well known art collector and sponsor of art events, Nasir Javed. Entering his office is a fascinating experience as one views paintings by various artists of Pakistan throughout the establishment.

His interest in art began some years ago while visiting countries of the East with ancient histories. Years later, in 2003, he met an artist with similar interests and the two became soul mates.

Nasir Javed had already acquired paintings by Tassaduq Sohail before the two met, and when Sohail returned to Karachi after four decades in London, the two were introduced by a mutual friend and found much in common to discuss.

Sohail had an interesting life, lived in Lahore after Partition, then Karachi, where he was an author of unusual stories. From there he proceeded to make his way to London, where he studied art at St Martin’s school, while working at various part time jobs to pay his way.

Those were happy days. Sohail finished his course at St. Martin’s School of Art, and went on to study art with a well known artist of the time. A time came when Sohail was selected to join the ‘Hyde Park’ painters in London; these were artists who would hang their work on the park railings at weekends where tourists and numerous visitors would turn up. Sohail enjoyed the atmosphere where all the artists were friendly and encouraged each other’s hopes and dreams. It was here Sohail was first discovered by Laila Shahzada, who had an exhibition of her work going on in London.

She brought several of Sohail’s paintings and carried them back to Karachi where they interested S. Ali Imam. Eventually Imam and Sohail met and subsequently Sohail regularly showed his work at the Indus Gallery.

Sohail’s life was interesting and full of change. He acquired success internationally, his drawings were acquired by national museums of Art and his exhibitions were featured in national newspapers and magazines.

In spite of his fame, in his later years, he decided to return to Karachi. Exhibitions in Karachi followed and he continued to work until he passed away in 2017.

Nasir Javed, who had a collection of over 100 paintings by Sohail, was determined to ensure his friend was remembered for all times to come. To fulfill the purpose, he organised an exhibition of the work of Tassaduq Sohail at the Marriot Hotel, and invited artists from Islamabad and Lahore to attend, and share their memories of the artist. It was a grand affair hosted by the film star Alyy Khan, and attended by the Cultural Minister Syed Sardar Ali Shah, who spoke of a space in the Karachi Art Museum dedicated for Sohail’s work. Nasir Javed immediately pledged three of his paintings for that event.

Altogether 115 people attended the show, and it was amazing to view those works of the artist for the first time. From the small sized paintings one had viewed at the Hyde Park shows, Nasir Javed had arranged the latest work of the artist, in which he had painted numerous, different small sized pieces on one large canvas. Each artwork was the subject of intense study.

Often joking with friends, Sohail was actually a very serious man, one who had been affected as a youth by the violence of Partition that saw neighbours become violent strangers. He moved with the family to Lahore and later, on his own he moved to Karachi. He became a popular short story writer before moving to London, where his world consisted of art.

In his paintings, Sohail portrayed animals as superior creatures. Throughout his life he would feed stray dogs and birds, moving out in the early hours of the morning. Though Sohail travelled extensively, and showed his work to acclaim in London, in later years, he settled in Karachi, and moved away from the small canvases that had been his trademark, and from 2003 onwards, created multiple scenes on large scaled canvases.

Artist Chitra Pritim and his team, who contributed greatly to the arrangements of the event, had arranged the paintings around the Crystal Ballroom on easels so that the guests could view the work in detail. Since the work had been acquired by Nasir Javed from the artist’s studio while he was working on them, many were displayed for the first time. During the exhibition, though no canvas was for sale, two paintings were successfully auctioned for SIUT. Now Nasir Javed is arranging to bring out a book on the artist and his work. He is making sure that his friend and the art he spent his life on, shall not be forgotten. •