Description: signed and dated '84' lower right, felt pen, pastel and oil on canvas, mounted
93 x 119 cm.
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Collection of Mrs Farida Ataullah
This work exemplifies the influence of calligraphy and specifically the Kufic script on Sadequain's work, as his works evolved in the direction of greater abstraction.
As Thomas Dowling notes 'The one principal influence of his birthplace that has endured and hardened into a technique has been the use of calligraphy, particularly the Kufic script[...]
The vertical, unrounded, angular strokes of the Kufic script suggested the violent forces he found in life and in nature. In addition, Kufic calligraphy was charged with the religious energy of its Islamic origins. It conveyed to Sadequain a sense of the powerful primitive forces he wanted to incorporate in his paintings[...]
'It was not until he came to Pakistan in 1947 that he discovered a landscape that could unite with the influence of calligraphy and his own harsh view of the human struggle[...]
'All painting represents a simplification of nature, and all painters have selected from nature those details that most closely correspond to their own vision and experience. Sadequain's basic artistic drive is to represent line trying to free itself from a mass, and it is, therefore, not surprising that he began to see a desert dominated by giant cactus (in Gadani, a village outside Karachi, where he had gone to recuperate)[...]
'These plants with their tentacle-like arms reaching towards the sky instinctively appealed to him. Their struggle for life against the harsh desolate odds of the desert became a metaphor for the human struggle. The rising vertical lines of the cactus paralleled the strokes in the Kufic script. In a sense the cactus forced him to re-discover calligraphy.
'Sadequain's great talent for working directly from nature, for subduing the observed fact to his own personal artistic vision remains constant.' (Thomas Dowling, 'Pakistan's Prolific Painter', Panorama, September 1963 quoted in Abdul Hamid Akhund et al. (ed.), Sadequain: The Holy Sinner, Mohatta Palace Museum, 2002.)