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The Vision of a Painter

Author: Marjorie Husain      Publications: Dawn – Tuesday Review (p- 14)      Dated: 21 July 1992

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No other artist has portrayed the essence of Sindh – its beauty, its poverty, its way of life and changing vistas, the way Mussarat Mirza has been able to do. A child of Sindh, the artist has made a life-long study of her subject. An authority on the cultural heritage of the area, she is familiar with numerous diverse elements of the areas history and traditions, from the long established customs of handicrafts to the mysticism of Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai.

Mussarat was born in Sukkur, the ancient town of northern Sindh, situated on the banks of the river lndus. Childhood was a happy time, growing up in the midst of a loving family. From her earliest memories, the artist loved to draw. Tradition made it impossible for young Mussarat to paint or sketch en plein air, instead she spent hours on the rooftop of her house or gazing from a window at the subjects all around her. She painted the rural dwellings, children at play, whirring dust storms and changing skies. Accordingly she absorbed the atmosphere of her surroundings into the very fibre of her being. Ali these impressions Mussarat took with her to Lahore where she received her art education.

Lahore was an exciting place for artists in the 60s. It was then the centre of art in the country with Shakir Ali, Anna Molka Ahmed and Khalid Iqbal stimulating and encouraging young artists and art students with their knowledge of contemporary art methods and ideas. Artists gathered from all over the country to display their work at the Alhamra Arts Council and brilliant young artists such as Colin David, Ahmed Khan and Murtaza Bashir were prominent among them.

Mussarat joined the Lahore College for Women where her talents in the Fine Arts department were soon recognised. Even then, the paintings of the day-to-day life of rural Sindh were coloured by the artists emotional response. The rhythms of Sindh, its people and its seasons were portrayed in harmonious and meditative compositions. Mussarat went on to do a post-graduate course from the Punjab University, taking her Masters degree with honours. Her experience of the Lahore art scene at that time filtered through her brush to the canvas resulting in impasto textures and semi-cubist forms in earthern shades and tones.