. . . . . .  
Any showing of the works of Ijaz Ul Hassan is a significant occasion. Any solo exhibition by him is always a memorable event, for there is no contemporary painter in Pakistan whose output demonstrates such a versatile command over different mediums nor such a high level of consummate skill. His critics suspect this; his adherents believe this; the collectors of his works confirm this.
Since his last one-man exhibition in 19xx, Ijaz Ul Hassan has moved into ascending levels of maturity. His perception of the world surrounding him and of events in which he is often an active participant and in others a concerned observer, has gradually mellowed. The revolutionary fire which ignited the paintings done during his earlier years – the series on the horrors of Vietnam, for example - have quietened into an incandescent glow. The modern counterpart of Ijaz’s earlier image of the Vietnamese mother nursing her infant in one arm and cradling a stengun in the other has been replaced by the Kashmiri Madonna, swathed in saffron, mourning her dead.
Such dramatic visual statements are to be expected from someone as highly politicised as Mian Ijaz Ul Hassan. His alter ego as an active leader of the Pakistan People’s Party are the vital adjunct to his artistic persona. Rather like the Flemish master Peter Paul Rubens who doubled as a diplomat, Ijaz is not a politician who paints but a painter who is also a politician.
In this present exhibition, there are works which in their inspiration will be familiar with themes he has developed over the years. His view of the world through the confines of a barred window (a haunting evocation of the period he spent in jail) or the creeping vine which wraps itself around an uncomplaining tree have begun icons in contemporary Pakistani painting. To Ijaz, they remain however not subjects nor objects but almost individuals, each with its own recognisable personality, each a unique symbol of passionate attachment, of flowering joy, and even of sorrow.
If trees can inspire such fealty, so equally can the human beings he encounters. His stylised compositions which include a silhouette outline as a symbol of human estrangement from nature (represented here by a garden in the distance), and likewise his bold large canvas of one of his party workers Bhatti are arresting examples of his concern for humanity in both a domestic and a political environment.
The paintings done by Ijaz Ul Hassan during the two periods of his stay in places like New York and Maine in the United States form a separate group. Gone is the glaring exuberance of a Pakistani summer with its effusion of flowering amaltass. Instead he presents less landscapes than the change of seasons – a rooftop in summer, a glade bathed in autumnal tones, and off-white wintry snowscapes.
This latest exhibition of Mian Ijaz Ul Hassan will provide another benchmark of his development as an artist. His reputation, both at home and abroad, need no further certification. His creative genius is his own best advocate.
21 November 2000
All Speeches
Latest Books :: Latest Articles :: Latest SPEECHES :: Latest POEMS