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A Collection of Prints by Anwar Saeed

Author: Marjorie Husain      Publications: The Review - (p.14)      Dated: 18 Dec 1995

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Painter, print-maker Anwar Saeed was instrumental in setting up the department of print-making at the National College of Arts, Lahore in 1985. Since then he has divided his time between the two disciplines. An Assistant Professor in the department, he graduated from the National College of Arts in 78, and then gained experience working as an illustrator and designer. Awarded a British Council Scholarship in 1984, Anwar spent one year on Post-Graduate studies in illustration and print-making at the Royal College of Art, London, where his work was included in the Degree display.

The first of Anwars six solo exhibitions, a series of finely executed drawings collectively titled Windows, was held in Islamabad in 1984. Since then his work has been included in numerous group shows in Pakistan and abroad. In 93, Anwar was one of the six Pakistani artist who worked with German artist, Julia Lohmann, in a three-week, Goethe Institute sponsored, artists damp. The theme of the project was Violence in which Anwar portrayed a war machine, an assemblage built from numerous materials. His object was to represent the system as a vehicle hung with obsolete objects. The viewer completed the experience by looking through a small slot where a war film ran repeatedly.

Recently, Anwar Saeeds painting Night Zone exhibited at the Dhaka, Bangladesh, Biennalle, earned recognition for him and for Pakistan in the form of an award. Introspective and profound, Anwars work concerns both inner and outer dimensions of existence, for along with candid personal analysis are perceptive socio-political observations. His latest collection of prints, shown first at the National College of Arts Gallery, Lahore, then at Chawkandi Art, Clifton, consists of fifteen photo etchings, a technique which assimilates diverse images to photo sensitive materials. The abstraction of language, a device of the artist, adds tonality to the work, creating the illusion of three-dimensional space. Arabic, Sanskrit, and Persian script, contribute decorative elements. Curving into recognisable objects, resembling musical notes or complimenting the folds of the sculptured robes of Gandhara images, they are characteristic of the artists literary interest. Anwar refers to modern or classic masters in his work, incorporating ancient symbols from many cultures in a pastiche of images. References to Greek, Egyptian and Hindu mythology and Persian miniatures are juxtaposed with modern objects. All but one of the artwork is divided into two spaces representing material and spiritual concerns; the earth and the heavens, from which symbols of authority predominate. Formulating the presence of a narration without a story, the pieces are hung in sequence, creating a scenario that awaits the imagination of the viewer. The prints carry cryptic titles that gather around them an atmosphere of mystery beginning with LaMan, and ending You will Forget Love like another Disaster. Alpha and Omega. Anwars visual quotations encompass a legendary holy man who is reputed to have meditated for two decades, shown with vines growing around his body. Fish, synonymous with the spirit – the urge for freedom, scribes engrossed in their journals. The spatial arrangements reflect the confused cultural conditions of contemporary existence. The divisions of the artwork parallel the contradictory facets of mans inner being. Anwars present collection marks his return to print-making after a two year period of painting. Immediate plans include a return to canvas and brushes.