Sadeqain needs no introduction to South Asians and to art connoisseurs the world over.
Born as Syed Sadeqain Ahmed Naqvi in Amroha, India in 1930, Sadeqain rose to became the most accomplished painter and calligrapher Pakistan has ever seen.
A self taught painter, who still beholds the world with an awe by his quality and volumes of his artwork. It is estimated that Sadequain painted more than 15,000 pieces of artwork consisting of murals, paintings, drawings and calligraphies.
A man who possessed incredible passion and energy for art, donated most of his works to many friends and places. Though priceless as art treasures, his paintings stand a worth of over $1 billion now.
He is credited to have brought a renaissance, ( the reawakening) in the art of Calligraphy. Calling himself a faqir, and belonging to a family of calligraphers he considered calligraphy as a divine gift to him.
Asked many times about when did he begin painting, he often said he did not remember how early he started painting. In one of his interviews he remarked, “Perhaps I must be moving my fingers to paint in my mothers womb too.”
His murals cover an area larger than the murals created by Michelangelo and Diego Riviera combined.
The mural titled “Saga of Labor” located at Mangla Dam is credited to be his largest work (approximately 180 x 35 feet). Saga of Labour is Sadeqain’s tribute to the working men and women since early life on Earth. The mural illustrates mankind’s journey from food gatherer to the development of agriculture, handicrafts and machinery. Beginning with Iqbal’s verse on Farhad, this majestic mural ends with Iqbal’s reference to other worlds beyond the stars. It is known to be one of the largest murals in the world.
Sadeqain painted on the poetry of Ghalib, Iqbal and Faiz.
He was also a poet, who composed Rubaiyat (quartains), then inscribed, and illustrated them. There are over 200 such illustrations collected in Rubaiyat-e-Sadeqain.
A recipient of numerous national and international awards like Tamgha-e-Imtiaz, Pride of Performance, Sitara-e-Imtiaz, Australian Cultural Award, and Gold Mercury Award, he won the first prize at the prestigeous Laureate Biennale de Paris.
Sadeqain was described by Le Monde, Paris in 1964 as, “The multiplicity of Sadequain’s gifts is reminiscent of Picasso.”
He painted till the last days of his life. When he passed away in 1986, he was worjking on the “Arz-o-Samawat” (Earth and the Heavens) for the ceiling of the Frere Hall, Karachi. With 100 panels spanning an area of 3,200 square feet, Sadeqain could only complete 87 of them.
Sadeqain was immensely popular in India and his work is currently graces many locations in India including Delhi, Aligarh, Benaras and Hyderabad.
His painting are the prized possession of New York Metropolitan Museum, Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, Museum of Modern Art in Paris, and many other locales.
Dr Salman Ahmed, Sadeqain’s nephew has formed Sadeqain Foundation in 2007 with the mission to Discover, Preserve and Promote Sadeqain’s immense works.
I ask him what does he mean by discover Sadeqain’s work?
He responds that the painter was extremely generous and gifted away thousands of works to friends and places where he painted. Hence alot of his art sits with individuals, and many of their heirs do not understand the value of it, or are unable to maintain it. Moreover in the words of Anwar Maqsood, “Sadeqain is one painter who has painted even after his death.” implying that a lot of fake artwork has been created attributed to him. He envisions to create a Museum of Sadeqain’s art.
We at Rung Festival at ROM were fortunate to have two panels of the original mural by Sadeqain on May 31, and June 1, 2014. The mural called Pakistan was painted by Sadeqain in 2 weeks at a Pakistani Expo in Lusanne, Switzerland in 1966. The mural depicted the cultures of various provinces of Pakistan. In 1975 they were brought to Canada for a Pakistani Expo, and since then 7 of the 9 pieces of the mural reside in the Pakistan Embassy in Ottawa.
The exhibit became the focal point of all visitors to Rung Festival.
Information & pictures: Courtesy Dr. Salman Ahmed. Sadequain Foundation USA.