dMOAZZAM ALI Watercolor Master
Indus Feminine Saga
Woman of Thar is drawn in its various possibilities on Moazzam Aliís large scale canvases at artscene galleries, Karachi. Being an artist, Ali may have diverse and odd opinion to find unique meaning in the recognizable image, (a hot subject to paint for many artists). He looks at his subject with the eye of a historian; but than it is not history alone. He expresses his narrative in a poetic manner. The ingredients include his excellent drawing, colour sensibility, expertise to fuse hues to create a feeling of mystery which takes the viewer back in time beyond BC. The place remains the Indus Valley. Moazzam is equally at ease with the use of watercolour on canvas.
His current exhibits in watercolour on canvas are a new adventure in the aesthetics of painting. As an established artist, drawing, fine colour lines vigorous pigment and dramatic bleeds enter and re-enter his painting process to stimulate and challenge the painted image. Moazzam transfers his soul into his female forms and makes them breathe with time. At the same time, Moazzam is serving the cause of preserving time old culture and lifestyle of gypsies of the desert as symbols of continuity and life.
Behind the curtain of extremely pleasing paints and lines is an objectivity with respect to Aliís self. It started with discovering who he was. He discovered that his expressions on canvas were not strictly personal to him. They came from an older point of departure, from a more elevated point of view which linked it up with the original, spontaneous and divine source. In this sense, Ali is different from the modern painters who spend all their efforts on producing something in a new way so that they could present it as the expression of their own thought as if truth could be the property of a man. Ali discovered that the love of wisdom cannot constitute wisdom itself. Wisdom is identical with veritable internal knowledge. Only wisdom cannot produce a painting. It is the intuitive value coupled with the understanding of internal knowledge. And external observation that brings out canvases like those of Moazzam Aliís. The act of creativity may or may not address itself to reason but to the soul and the spirit. It is here that the viewer feels the pulse of mastery on Aliís canvases decorated with an ancient image. This mystery prevails over a period from today to time immemorial. Aliís silent narrative makes use of figures, symbols and paints to explain his internal state which allowed him gradually to attain real knowledge. With his antique mystery he transports the mental to the heart. He tries to touch upon the essence of being. But at the same time his paintings also have a more profound sense which is related to him, and to the internal way through which he can realize the knowledge in himself- a realization which is nothing but the realization of his own being.
Ali travelled a long way to arrive at the definition of his self. His major motif- the woman of Thar- addresses various directions. It is plainly descriptive and allusively symbolic. It is not a mere design for what he wants to convey. It is the result of a research journey which Ali started as a young artist. Twenty years ago in 1989 his artistic spirit was in common with nature. His passion for the true and constant was inherent in nature. Nature with its limitless diversity glories and graces spurred his imagination. It urged his eyes and refined sensibility to capture and preserve the fleeting moments of joy. In nature Ali discovered the source of creative energy that turns the whole aesthetic experience into motion- from observation and conception to creative impulses and expressions in terms of colours and compositions.
Laced with creative energy, Ali, at his early artistic career painted snow-clad mountainous landscapes of northern areas, river views from the Punjab, habitats of Swat and Murree and village scenes one finds in the rural areas of Pakistan. He experimented with abstract cubism; but remained loyal to his roots by exploiting Ralli designs. From here onwards, unconsciously he started moving towards his calling. His canvases portrayed village damsels. Most of them were the gypsies from the desert of Thar. Woman remained his main motif as a symbol of continuation of life through the centuries. Ali moved away from the simple and one dimensional subject. He explored all possible diversions and dimensions of his motif in watercolour, a medium he excels at. His excellence with the medium made his narrative a poetic experience.
Moazzamís superb sense of design easily conveys vividness, veracity, rhythm and poetic rapture on his canvases. Focusing on the Thar female figures, he characterizes images by an explosion of colours, spilling out vibrant hues of nature out of the boundary of forms and weaves complex webs of colour splattered, splashed and washed through a dense background of sandy jungle. To arrest movement on his canvases through women busy with manual grinder, carrying pitcher and other works of the sort, he catches the right moment. Creating movement through figures engaged in manual labour is no problem; Moazzam shows his painterly skills when he paints a lying human form. One can feel her pulse even if she has turned her back towards the viewers.
Widely exhibited across the borders, Ali developed a command over every branch in Fine Arts. He made large number of portraits and paintings on ceramic tiles (it was a commissioned work). He painted alluring pictures documenting cultural and historical aspects of life in Pakistan. Thus he was linking the past with the present- the past as a reality without which present becomes baseless. While living abroad, he kept visiting Pakistan along with his paintings for display. With semi-abstract strokes he created images of Pakistan depicting scenes of life in the rural areas of the Punjab, NWFP, Baluchistan and Sindh. Khattak Dance of Kohat was his favourite subject because he could express his power of movement and restraint through this delicate medium. His musical strokes created a sense of symphony and rhythm. Intelligently he picked subject of folk dances of various regions of Pakistan that added more movement to the strength of his strokes. He made full use of the white of his canvas and by only applying dabs of muddy red and blue created tremendous effects of painterly skills. And when he wanted to create serenity, silence and stillness, he seemed to have no equal.
Moazzam has to his credit ten solo shows spread over Toronto, Canada; New York, Washington D.C., USA and Islamabad and Karachi, Pakistan. Trevor Allen Art Gallery, in Toronto mounted his works, which were considered as superior works of art in various reviews published in newspapers.
Moazzam has done a lot of commissioned work, especially 500 paintings in watercolour for a hotel in Karachi for walls of its guest rooms. His works can be seen at Presidentís House, Islamabad; Prime Ministerís House, Islamabad; Governorís Houses; embassies and consulates of various countries in Pakistan; staff colleges and offices of Pakistan army and air force; nation bank of Pakistan and various corporations; national and international companies, places and homes of art connoisseurs and permanent art galleries. Moazzam has worked in the capacity of Principal of various art colleges. He also held the position of Art Director in leading advertising agencies.