Sadequain: The master of calligraphic Art

Syed Sadequain Ahmed Naqvi is a world renowned artist and calligrapher from Pakistan. He is also famous with the name as Sadequain Naqqash. He is considered as one of the finest painters and calligrapher for his superb artistic skills and talent. Sadequain was born in 1930 in a family of calligraphers at Amorha in British India. Sadequain started his artistic career in 1940, when he joined the Progressive Writers and Artists Movement.

Syed Sadequain Ahmed Naqvi

In 1954, the first solo exhibition of the work of Sadequain was organized in Quetta, Pakistan. His work was much appreciated and soon he earned his name for the Mural artwork. A mural is any piece of artwork painted or applied directly on a wall, ceiling or other large permanent surface. Similarly, Sadequain was admired a lot for his calligraphic style, which is widely considered iconic by many critics of South Asian art.

Treasure of Time Mural by Sadequain

In 1955, a Mural by Sadequain was affixed at Jinnah Hospital and his exhibitions were also held at Frere Hall and at the residence of Mr. Suhrawardy. Sadequain also went to France where he spent some time in Paris augmenting his skills. In 1960, Sadequain was Awarded with Tamgha-e-Imtiaz and got the first prize in National Exhibition. In 1961, Sadequain painted the huge mural (62′X10′) in the Head Office of the State Bank of Pakistan at Karachi, titled “Treasures of Time” in which he showed the intellectual advance of man from the times of Socrates to that of lqbal and Einstein. In 1961, Sadequain was awarded “Laureate de Paris” and President’s Medal of Honor by the government of Pakistan in 1962. The work of Sadequain became famous thorough out the world and his art exhibitions were held in many countries of the world like in USA , France , Middle East etc.

Lahore Museum Mural painted by Sadeqain. Photo : leeno (flickr)

His fantastic Mural works include the Murals in Lahore Museum , at Mangla Dam, in Abu Dhabi and at Free Hall. Sadequain painted the ceiling of the Lahore museum entrance hall, depicting Evolution of Mankind, and additional nine large panels of calligraphies for the Islamic Gallery.

Saga of Labor by Sadequain at Mangla Dam

The ceiling spans approximately 100 x 35 feet. The mural titled “Saga of Labor” by Sadequain at Mangla Dam is a glowing tribute to the workingmen and women of all times and places who form the backbone of any society The ceiling of the Frere Hall, displays in bold, the words, “Arz-o-Samawat” (Earth and the Heavens) bears a historical significance, since it represents the last piece of work by Sadequain.

Calligraphy by Sadeqain

Sadequain was equally popular in the neighboring country India and one of his biggest fan in India was the then prime minister of India , Indira Gandhi. He was invited by the Indian government in the 1980’s and during this tour of India, the murals of Sadequain were affixed at AligarhBanarasHyderabad and Delhi. The study of these fantastic Murals suggests that Sadequain was a deep thinker and philosopher. He truly represented the human’s continuous struggle to discover his inner self. Sadeqian was awarded in1975 with “Cultural Award” by the Government of Australia and in 1980 he was acceded “Sitara-e-Imtiaz” by the government of Pakistan.

Aftaab-e-Taaza : An illustration of the verses of Iqbal by Sadequain

The illustrations of Faiz Ahmad Faiz, Iqbal and Ghalib are also one of the most prominent works of Sadequain.  Sadequain also illustrated the French Nobel Prize winning writer Albert Camus.

Ghalib by Sadequain

The calligraphic works of Sadequain possess the allegorical significance. Sadequain claimed that his calligraphy is a result of the divine inspiration bestowed upon him by the God. Undoubtedly the calligraphic paintings of Sadeuqain were true expressionist presentations. Sadequain created countless paintings, drawings, and murals in his lifetime. Sadequain was not a greedy and desirous artist so he hardly ever sold his work. Most of the times, this phenomenal artist gave its work away to many of his friends. In his lifetime there were two galleries named after him by the authorities, but they no longer exist. Sadequain was deeply inspired by Cactus and its growth in scorching heat. Sadequain symbolized Cactus to depict labor, struggle, and persistence against natural elements of resistance and triumph of hard work.

The calligraphy of Allah's names at Lahore Museum by Sadeqian

Sadeqain, the master of calligraphic Art was died on February 10, 1987 in Karachi at the age of 57 while painting a wall as he fell. He is buried in Sakhi Hassan graveyard. After his death the mammoth book “The Holy Sinner: Sadequain” was published which is a tribute of the work of this greatest Pakistani artist. This book consists of 700 pages, weighing 12 kg and it includes the reproduction of some 400 of Sadequain’s creations.