Description: oil on canvas, mounted
193 x 95.5cm., (2)
Notes: Provenance: Mrs Farida Ataullah
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These important works were painted in the late 1960's (probably 1968) when Sadequain held several regular thematic exhibitions at the Pakistan Institute of International Affairs. These included the 'Gadani Cactus' series, the 'Barbed Wire' series, and the 'Cobweb' series.
Vazira Fazila-Yacoobali in her essay 'Sadequain: The Making and Unmaking of a National Artist' points out the significance of these works in context of Sadequains artistic career as well as the political atmosphere in the country at the time.
"In this extraordinary large body of canvas paintings and drawings he experimented a great deal in style and metaphor, but in general they were bold, dark and fiery. The work of the 1960's was interpreted as audaciously depicting societal decay, decadence and inertia...These paintings about a general moral decay in society had a particular resonance in the late 60's, with the rise of left-wing labour and student political activities. The 'labour militancy and student radicalism' of this period culminated in the November 1968 demonstrations and strikes against the Martial Law government of Ayub Khan... It is striking then, that in 1968, Sadequain was arguably at the height of his career. It was during the course of this year that he held an exhibition of his work almost every few months in the foyer of the Pakistan Institute of International Affairs in Karachi...It was both a prolific and an innovative year for him, as he continued to draw large audiences to his shows at a time of heightened social mobilization. Meanwhile, the broad range of his work continued to engage a variety of different national imaginaries in society. ...with this surge of populist optimism, Sadequain also began to actively represent himself as a people's artist. In 1969, an article announced that 'Sadequain shuns Money: My Art is for the People'. The journalist went on to report that Sadequain had decided to no longer sell his paintings... Later in an interview in 1971 Sadequain declared his famous statement 'I am not a drawing room artist, but the artist of the gutter: my art is for the people.'" (Abdul Hamid Akhund et al (ed.), Sadequain-The Holy Sinner, Mohatta Palace Museum, 2002.)
Two untitled drawings in the National Museum of Art (PNCA), Islamabad, are probably studies for the current works. (Akbar Naqvi, Image and Identity:Fifty Years of Painting and Sculpture in Pakistan, 1998, p.390, Fig. 129 & 130, illustrated)