Oct 1 2011: Pakistan Modernism II (Paintings from The Pakistan Year Book, National Publishing House, 1969)

A few images left over from the previous Pakistan Modernism post, which focused on architecture and industry: these four images – one of a female student at the Dacca Art Institute of Bangladesh c.1969, and the other three of paintings by artists working in an abstract idiom at the same moment – show another side to that quest for modernity: though of the three, only one actually worked in what is now known as Pakistan, the other two being based in Bangladesh, once the former state of East Pakistan (established in 1947) had won its independence in 1971: both feature in the Pakistan Year Book for 1969 because this independence was still two years away when the book was published.

As for the images themselves, the untitled painting by Mohammad Kibria (b.1929) is a subtle play of textures and muted colours that reminds me a little (in colour and approach, if not really sensibility)  of the work of Wols (Wolfgang Schulze: 1913 – 1951) while the work here by Saifuddin Ahmed (b.1922) pursues a kind of vibrant, almost African inflected mode of abstraction that appears to have some roots in textile design – though the artist’s other works seem to cover many different idioms at different times. Perhaps most intriguing is Zubeida Agha (1922–1997), the woman who is more or less credited with introducing modernism to Pakistan during the 1930s and 40s, and someone whose work – on the evidence of available material – deserves further investigation. 


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