Chitra Pritam

Page 1

Nadeem Zuberi

About The Author A notable journalist and art critic, Nadeem Zuberi, has persevered in carving a delinition for the country’s art over the years. Not only has he achieved that; but has also ooniured interest of readers who are gradually transforming into keen connoisseurs of drawing, painting & sculpture. For a catalytic treatment to his endeavor to instill amicable relationship between the artist and the esthete, Nadeem has been writing art columns for the Business Recorder and Pulse magazine regularly.

As a seasoned art writer for numerous newspapers and journals, Nadeem has proactively kept the readers abreast of the dynamic trends in the art world to enable pristine appreciation and meaningful evaluation for collectors. In the wake of his illustrious contributions through the media, Nadeem has been successful in invoking renewed inspiration amongst tyro painters to rejuvenate their creative vision for acquiring a cognizable niche in the competitive art circle.

Chitra Pritam’s Expression of Gratitude to

Jamil Naqsh 2010

Oil on board, 2009 12 x 13.5


Piyare Lal Roop Mati

Chitra Pritam’s

Expression of Gratitude to

Jamil Naqsh 2010 By

Nadeem Zuberi Curator Shahzad Saeed Amjad Saeed

artscene 28-C, Stadium Lane No. 1, Opposite Khayaban-e-Shamsheer Phase 5, D.H.A., Karachi Ph: 021 3584 3961, 3585 6703 Mobile:0300 8285600 Email; Web;

Chitra Pritam’s

Expression of Gratitude to

Jamil Naqsh

Writing is the work of people associated with education and literature. Although, this is a hard and difficult task for me, however, I have a few words for my friends. Please do not consider my syntax a written prose as these are spontaneously spoken words which I present before you in all humbleness. To become a painter was the only desire I had in life. I remained engrossed in finding the path to achieve redemption, until one day with a few letters of Syed Anees Shah Gilani in hand, I left my village Sanjarpur (District Rahimyarkan) and began my life in the busy metropolitan of Karachi. With little to go on and being without friends and help, my unrelenting faith became a strength that kept my hopes high in the most agonizing times. In my obsession to paint I went through a period of deep fixation. In the melting pot of time, my life was thawing in such a way that I became oblivious to the material world, the existent and the obscure. There was only a singular objective under the influence of which I kept passing my day & night and kept praying to God. In search of a spiritual guide I kept withstanding the vicissitudes of time and events until finally I met my guru Jarnil Naqsh. Famous poet Obaidullah Aleem was the cause of this remarkable dawn in my life. The day I met Jamil Naqsh was the most striking and memorable day of my life which I will always cherish. I am forever grateful to Obaidullah Aleem and pray that may God always keep him under his blissful sanctuary. To become a solemn disciple of the deity Jamil Nacjsh is by no means an easy task. Abundant patience, tolerance, obedience and respect are some of the mandatory essentials. In plain words, it is like having to swim across a river of fine. It is my belief that whatever the circumstances, purposeful deeds and strong faith can ease out the difficulties of life. Moment after moment, considering every objective a milestone, I kept walking through the difficult junctures in the capacity of a fervent apprentice. Although I withstood hunger and weathered cold without a blanket, but I maintained respect, tradition and befitting mannerism because there was room for neither mistake nor forgiveness. With respect and obedience and without asking questions, I kept learning the appreciation of art, its universal philosophy and ways to tackle the vacuum between technical & mechanical elements of painting from Jamil Naqsh in a remarkably exquisite manner. This gradual input kept enhancing my abilities to appreciate and execute art. Spontaneous art is a mix of blood and sweat which, to this day I believe and practice with conviction. Cognizance of Jamil Naqsh to this unremitting nature developed an interest and kindness in his heart for me. I always thought that the tree that never tolerated kites and crows under its shade probably saw the nature of a pigeon in


Jamil Naqsh, my guru my soul and gave me the honor to remain under its compassion year after year. My inquisitiveness kept growing with time and I yearned for more. During this period, and to my utter dismay, jamil Naqsh moved to London (UK) for settling down; this left me shattered and destitute. In the wake of thc guru’s depmture, I could hear silence and loneliness all around me in which I would often look back and talk to myself Those days of filling tobacco for the guru, straightening his shoes and raising them to my lips had become a part of my faith. I kept searching within my soul and my life, whether a blessing or bane, was frozen in its tracks as if I had been turned into stone by somebody. I could not stop; I had to go on. So I sought refuge in painting by making use of every golden word that the guru had said to me. Art does not have any destination and it is die name of constant discovery Although I do not make claims of art expertise, whatever I received from the guru, I made it a part of my soul and kept moving forward. My entire affection, passion, respect and blessings of guru will be visible in my paintings. Truth from the core of my heart is that from the window that I am looking, my universe revolves around my father, Pritarn Daas, guru Jamil Naqsh and God Almighty. Nevertheless, when I close my eyes and dive within my soul, then iris only jamil Naqsh that remains because of whom my existence has become meaningful. My head is respectfully bowed for him in complete gratefulness. It is with the increase in the intensity of my respect and devotion for the guru that I have had this opportunity to express my profound gratitude in all earnestness. Chitra Pritam Translation: M Saeed Kureshi

Chitra Pritam’s Expression of Gratitude to Jamil Naqsh Writing is the work of people associated with education and literature. Although, this is a hard and difficult task for me, however, I have a few words for my friends.


Chilly Evening at the Shrine Oil on canvas, 2009

30 x 42


Dedicated to

Najmi Sura



Haqim Balouch and Dhan Mati Portrait photography:

Coshaliya Chitra

Photography of Paintings:

Abu Talib Naqvi Abdul Khaliq Abbasi Printing:

Yaqeen Art Press (Pvt.) Ltd. Plot 150, Sector Korangi Industrial Area, Karachi UAN: 111 927 336 Kind Coopration:

Tanveer Uddin

Director Yaqeen art Press (Pvt.) Ltd

Coordination and support:

M.M. Usmani

Chairman Jamil Naqsh Foundation

Bashir Ahmed

Head of the Department of fine Art National College of Arts (Lahore)

M Saeed Kureshi Sitara-e-imtiaz (M) Rear Admiral (R) Director General Bahraia Education & Training Services

M. Ramzan

director Ejaz Art Gallery ( lahore)

Khalid ahmed

director Ocean Art Gallery ( Karachi)

Shammi Ahmed

director Momal Art Gallery ( Karachi)

Shahzad Saeed

director Artr scene Gallery ( Karachi)

Nand Lal - Aanand Lal Hashim Rathore Krishan balach - Pirthivi Balach Rahul Balach

Copy rights Piaray Lal. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any from or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photographying, recording or any information storage and retrieval system, without prior written permission of publisher.

Contents Presss Extracts 2 Expression of Gratitude

37 A Fresh Look at Landscape painting

9 Foreword

39 Chitra’s Coming of age

Chitra pritam

M.M. Usmani

13 The True Disciple Bashir Ahmed

17 Labour of Love Saeed kureshi

25 Chitra’s Painting Obsessions Nadeem Zuberi

Marjorie Husain

Marjorie Husain

43 Changing Hues of Permanence M.A. Siddiqui

47 ‘Auraq’ Modren Calligraphic Painting Prof. Dr. Muhammad Ali Siddiqui

49 Chitra pritam’s Paintings Carry Smell of Native Soil, Rain Sodden Earth Hameed Zamn

51 Chitra Pritam’s Colorful calligraphy S. Amjad Ali

55 Rich and fabulous S. Amjad Ali

57 Magical Lines Shamim Akhter

59 A New language of Images Mohsin S. Jaffri

Oil on canvas, 2007 20 x 30 Private collection




have known Mr Chitra Pritam for the last 15 years or so. He was then a young artist struggling to make a name for himself He came from Sanjarpur of Rahim Yar Khan District. Although he had migrated to Karachi, his ties with his rural background remained strong. His earliest paintings were of landscapes of his native place. He captured the scenic beauty of his native place at different times of the day. They were not static pictures of the scenery but vibrant and moving scenes of the area. Chitra had the determination to work hard and to make a nzune for himself. To his good luck, he met jamil Naqsh, who accepted him under his tutelage. Whenever l went to meet Jamil Sahib, l found Chitra busy painting. The master guided him for achieving excellence in his work. Chitra must have worked about 10 to 12 hours a day and won approval of his master. l¡le also worked on calligraphy in this period. His recent calligraphic works show how hard he has worked to achieve near perfection. ln the words of Dr Mohammad Ali Siddiqi “his pen and ink calligraphic work is very pleasant and eye catching to look at, the main feature of this grand feast is Chitra Pritams fantastic control over the movement of pen to make his work look intricate jewellery designsâ€? Chitra has done something unique in calligraphy. He was conscious that his calligraphic paintings are usually confined to different names of God Almighty or a single verse of the Holy Quran in different shapes and forms. llc has started painting whole verses of the Holy Quran particularly Surah-e-Reltman, Surah-e-Fateha, Surah-e-Shams in a single painting. He is still at an experimental stage but the results seem to be not only attractive but the verses are also readable. l have seen one of his early paintings of Budha. The face of the great man looks so serene, humane and philosophical that Chitra Pritam seems to have captured all his known qualities and character.

M.M. Usmani

Chairman Jamil Naqsh Foundation


Oil on canvas, 2009 30 x 36


Golden Reflection of Sunlight

Oil on canvas, 2010 30 x 36

Winter’s Evening Respite


Oil on canvas, 2007 18x 24


In Deep Meditation

The True Disciple


hitra Pritam, during his childhood days was always fascinated by the profuse variety of nature that surrounded him in the untainted ambience of his rustic abode. The wide expanse of green vegetation, the vibrant flowers. the numerous hues that varied with time were few of the elements that gave vigor to the mind`s eye of Chitra. Little did this innocent lad know that these visual experiences would one day become his strength. Brimming with desire to struggle for excellence he travelled from Saniarpur, District Rahim Yar Khan to Karachi, and met jamil Naqsh through Obaidullah Aleern, a distinguished writer and a poet. Chitra Pritam is one of the few fortunate painters who have had the opportunity of remmning under the apprenticeship of the eminent painter _Iamil Naqsh for nearly two decades. jamil Naqsh, being a devoted trainee of the master miniaturist at the NCA, Ustad Sharif from Patayala Ghrana of East Punjab, believed firmly in the process of transferring wisdom & expertise of art to those who had the passion, and of course. the patience for it. Painting, in jamil Naqsh`s adroit hands, seasoned and sensitized through tough challenges of the miniature, went through revolutionary transformation entering the realm of modern art that has been acknowledged worldwide. Chitra Pritam, the sole disciple during this period of Jamil Naqslrs intense creativity, was intently watching the guru and devouring every moment of visual pleasure and learning. The good fortune of devotee can be gauged from the fact that, with decades of experience behind him, Jamil Naqsli would reflect wisdom in every sentence he spoke and each stroke of the brush that he applied! Incidentally, as with other forms of art, individuals who had mastered the traditional art of miniature painting, continued to digress and experiment remaining within the rigorous parameters of disciplined handling and meticulousness of this art form. The inherent spirit of detail and consistency of the miniature was manifested in almost every medium over the years and eventually, it‘s rapidly developing variants and evolving art forms finally crystallized into expressive artifacts with distinct identities.

Acrylic on board, 2008 13 x 13

Vivid Revelation

Apprenticeship system of art education is a term referred historically to the intensive training give to artists for professional or personal purposes. The three principle contexts for this instruction have been : within the apprenticeship system, in art academies and art schools. and more recently, as an aspect of a wider curriculum, arts and crafts schools, university and private educational institutions. There are professional pedagogical specialirations and degrees in art practice, art histo ty and theory, and teacher training within the universities and art institution such as museums and galleries to educate the general public turd to help them understzmd and appreciate the changes that have occurred in the field of art. However, art education today is largely based on the apprenticeship systems in Canada. rtustralia, France, Germany-, india. Paldstzui and certain other parts of the world. Chitra Pritam went through a variety of experiences of apprenticeship, learning various styles throughout his life. First he started shagirdi of his father at home and learned jewelry-making and this is where he first understood the


Oil on canvas, 2009 30 x36


village from the Roadside

Buddha’s First Lure Oil on board, 2005 15 x18 Private collection

meaning of ustad-shagird relationship. He is also familiar with the respect of ustad and respect of learning through apprenticeship teaching. The apprenticeship of jewelrymaking is very similar to learning of miniature painting.

continued to learn with diligence, until the time when he was permitted by his ustad, he embarked on his own work with everlasting gratitude in his heart and respect for his mentors.

The discipline of miniature painting demands rigorous training of skills and techniques. On occasions, Jamil Naqsh’s tacit mode of training used to be stern, pragmatic and demanding as he understood all aspects of classical training system of apprenticeship teaching. These were the stringent obligations that Chitra Pritam sustained with ease just because every moment of audience with jamil Naqsh was a moment of revelation. Jamil knew that Chitra had tremendous potential to bear the onus of this trade and handle it with responsibility. From his father’s training to ]amil’s apprenticeship Chitra

I am pleased to state that in the case of Chitra Pritam, both ustad and shagird did justice to their duties to fulfill the requirements of the apprenticeship system. It is my earnest belief that apprenticeship system is the true system of acquiring expertise in arts which leads to achieving professional excehence. Bashir Ahmed Head, Department of Fine Art National College of Arts, Lahore


Weathbered Tree Village Entrance Oil on board, 2007 20 x30 Private Collection


Oil on canvas, 2004 30 x36 Private Collection

Labour of Love


fter independence, art in Pakistan began to receive its share of exposure to global contemporary art, initially through the print media then later followed by alumni

Disembarking the Days Clatch

returning from abroad. One such individual was Shakir Ali, who with his recent exposure to modern art, had incipient signs of juggling with structure of shapes in nature as well as with light. He reduced the elements of his canvases to simple, imposing forms. By abandoning realistic depiction in favor of fragmented perspectives, he moved his style towards abstraction. His revolutionary approach to painting became the focal point of many budding artists of that era.


Shakir Ali passed on the newly acquired ideas of expression to his students at the National College of Arts causing a new movement which gathered rapid momentum. Resulitantly, figures that emerged as modernized painters were Jamil Naqsh, Bashir Mirza and Zahoor-ul Akhlaq, amongst others. While the unconventional Bashir Mirza & Zahoor-ul Akhlaq were students who took to design trends in painting, jamil Naqsh merely followed Shakir Ali through inspiration. Being a devoted student of ustatl Sharif, jamil Naqsh continued to experiment with a variety of media based on the restraint and finesse of miniature painting.

Today the evolving native art, remaining within reasonable tradition, is being carried furthter by the 3rd generation of rare-breed artists. sueh as Chitra Pritam, whose paintings echo with resounding hint of Shahir Ali‘s expression that was siphoned through Jami Naqsh. It is reckoned’ that works of the modern Shakir Ali reflected influences of the French painter Paul Cé’e9zanne, often called the father of modern art, who evolved an idea representation of nature through deliberate synthesis and personal expression in an abstract order. He had a major influence on both the French artist Henri Matisse, who admired his use of color; and the Spanish artist Pablo Picasso, who developed Cé’e9zanne’s planar compositional structure into the cubist style. Based on nearly two decades of committed apprenticeship of Jamil Naqsh, who had received the gift of color and line from Shakir Ali, Chitra Pritam continued the bold excursions

Oil on board, 2004

13 x 13.5

into radicalism, while highlighting the importance Of instinct and intuition in the production of a work of art. Chitra Pritam believes that an artist does not have complete control over color and form; instead, colors, shapes, and lines would come to dictate to the sensitive artist how they might be employed in relation to one another. Chitra Pritam finds pleasure in submitting himself to the play of forces of color and design, and considers rhythmic but distorted, forms of many of his compositions culminate into harmonious visuals. Some feel that he is a naive primitive while others consider him a skillful virtuoso of technical procedure. The vibrant intensity of color, coupled with the visible rigor of his compositional organization indicates that he manages to synthesize basic expressive and represenial elements of painting in a remarkably original manner. “Representation of reality- without artist deformation and transdormation-cannot be the subject of painting’’ Popova -Moscow 1919 In his early days, Chitra Pritam’s unyielding struggle to capture the shrine of Hazrat Musa Nawab at Sanjarpur (Sirwahi) with every changing light of day and night speaks volumes about the painter`s obsession to fully understand the meaning of atmosphere. The ma1ar`s minaret with its dynamic setting always brought new ambiances that provoked the artist. Every

Oil on board, 2004


Geared for the Long Trip

painting, before it ended, made room for the next painting at the same spot. Like the repeated paintings of Rouen Cathedral painted by Claude Monet, Chitra Pritam, oblivious of the French painters ordeal, painted the shrine in lights ranging from dawn to dusk & even in the moonlight. Chitra Pritam deems that there are no milestones and destinations in an owing to the limitless variation of expression and appreciation. This practice is a labor of love that elevates pleasure with every new tribulation that emerges from the unfinished canvas. In the wake of his timid childhood and the resultant limited exposure to immediate vicinity he chooses to paint places that are familiar which include the Karachi sea and its streets; albeit, subject of painting does not bother Chitra Pritam. Painting for him is a means to repress thirst for the truth — the truth that would unleash the mystery of nature, light and hue that continue to alter their individual and collective character irreversibly Chitra Pritam prefers to work endlessly; with little heed to sleep and food, nevertheless, he too is vulnerable to biorhythms that compel him to break away for brief respites, though with compunction. With Chitra Pritam, the urge to paint comes all of sudden, and then, there is no stopping if the envisaged result is not visible. He believes that the painter has an important responsibility and should strive without relent and produce work with complete knowledge and awareness. Assuming an attitude of perseverance and consistency is mandatory; otherwise the artist would be confined to the doldrums. The psychology of art is concerned with such elements of the arts as human responses to color, sound, line, form, and words and with the ways in which the emotions condition such responses. Chitra Pritam emphasizes that a painting does not need a formula and its development takes place on the canvas. It can begin from a dot, and if it has to, end with a dot, but a sound foundation of academic strength is essential to qualify for doing that. Exciting patches of accidental forms and color need flawless understanding before these are accepted as a foundation to move ahead. Painting journey starts from realism and transforms gradually into abstract. The abstract, however, is not independent of realism but is connected. The local art scene has a rich variety of painting styles, nevertheless, these works are in

Oil on board, 2005

13 x 13

dire need of a check post that can gauge their quality. To date, the process of evaluation of art remains fairly obsolete and wanting. With the exception of a few most paintings are transforming into designs that can be employed as pieces of display and not of learning. The sale potential of a painter is not the yardstick that governs worthiness of art but it is the consistency and continuity of the painter’s work. Art does not require controversy to draw appreciation. It is the painter who is responsible for his work and not the seller. Consistent artists are like trees that have deep roots, while theaimless ones are like vines that assume a parasitic tendency. Whereas the deep-rooted trees are hard to uproot, the vines are pulled out and thrown away to obviate stagnation of vegetation it encroaches. The buyers sometimes go after artists that are popular but little do they realize that the value of their acquisition would be short lived! Modernity in art can be grossly misleading if interpreted irresponsibly As a consequential catastrophe, the painting is dominated by technique and texture and is devoid of atmosphere, while drawing is almost non-existent. The combination of the old and new is a foundation which cannot be overlooked and deserves a place in the pursuit of art. Chitra Pritam professes that he paints only what he can experience, touch and feel. In his early youth he saw trees and was exposed to Buddha so he chose to paint these simple


simply to aggravate his task further With the passage of time and harsh experiences, he has managed to streamline his evaluation process so as to arrive at an early reconciliation with the canvas.

Oil on board, 1998 48 x72

Shrine of Moosa Sarahi

forms. When he reverts to calligraphy he gets signs and signals on verses which strengthen his desire to explore beyond visible barriers. Painting has two aspects, the inspirational/conceptttal/aestheic and the craft. Both are needed if the work is to go on pleasing nhe informed observer. They are also interdependent. New techniques encourage new perspectives, and vice versa. Painting is a challenge which an artist continues to battle irom Erst to the last stroke and layer by layer; there is no ageement of time between the painter and the painting. According to Chitra Pritam, duration of the painting process am either be short or a protracted one. Longer the period, the greater are the signs of the artist’s personal eventualities that get imprinted on the canvas forever The overwhelming iict is that the painter himself begins to recognize every dot and stroke as the painting unfolds under his hand. Chitra Pritarn reckons that the attitude of an artist is of prime miportance whereas technique should not dominate the work of art. Technique merely harmonizes the painting while the style is the way of presenting the subject but spirit of the work lies in the approach and the attitude. Chitra Pritarn considers painting as the purpose of his life and can spend months and years doing it and never feel Lonely: Colors fill his life therefore he has no dreams for antthing else. When detached from canvas, he feels insecure and with every fleeting moment, his despair increases. Thus he quickly returns to his studio to recover his ebbed spirit. Chitra Pritam is never satisfied with what he paints and feels that there is always room for improvement. With this tendency there have been times that he has re—worked on paintings


Being a die-hard pupil of jamil Naqsh, Chitra professes that knowledge of academic principles and guidance of a tutor are essential to appreciate one’s own work. The tutor first demonstrates the method of developing an art work, while also pointing out the challenges and the opportunities. After some time, the apprentice begins to understand the methodology and starts to work systematically. Soon the wiser artist Ends himself provoked by form, line and texture that make him handle these elements amicably — beyond this it is a journey that finds its own passage and moods. When the painting begins to take form it is an indicator that completion is nearer. In retrospect, it was ahnost ten years ago that Chitra Pritam had decided to dedicate an exhibition to jamil Naqsh. In search of that perfect set of paintings befitting the guru’s stature, he continued to work precariously with the apprehension that the guru might not approve the quality of work. To paint was becoming an agonizing niglitmare because there was no one he could turn to. Absence ofjamil Naqsh, who had moved to the UK, is a reality that Chitra Pritam has not been able to reconcile to this day Notwithstanding, he managed to remain occasionally connected to jamil Naqsh through communication, which gave him the strength to complete this collection. These paintings that Chitra Pritam has made so passionately as an exclusive dedication to jamil Naqsh are One Hundred 8: One in number; a number associated with allegiance & good fortune. The 101st painting is an impressive mural, "The Golden Fields of Yellow Mustard Seed", which not only spearheads the exhibition but also binds the entire set of paintings in unison. The work on this mural is spread over nearly 5 years and had served Chitra Pritam as a faithful companion. This mural provided Chitra Pritam the catalytic reminiscence of his apprenticeship days with ]amil Naqsh; a subtle reflection of which appears in most of the paintings in this book. M Saeed Kureshi Sitara-e-Imtiaz (M) Rear Admiral(R) Director General Bahria Education & Training Services

Oil on board, 2004-09 48 x 84

The Golden Fields of Yellow Mustard Seed

Tribulations of Buddha Oil on board 18 x 20, 2006 Private collection


Oil on paper, 1993-07 22 x 30


Native Village, Sanjarpur

Oil on paper, 1993-07 22 x 30

Mosque at Sarwabi


Oil on canvas, 2010 20 x 24


Shrine overlooking the Village

Chitra’s Painting Obsessions


hitra Pritam was born in a family of professional jevvellers. therefore it can’t be said that his childhood was devoid of art. When Chitra reached his teens he began assisting ins father, Pritam Das, in their native village of Sanjarpur. disrnict Rahim Yar Khan. But Chitra’s craving for art led him to the city of lights. In this busy metropolis, with a few letters of Syed Anees Shah Gilani in hand, he arrived as a complete stranger. Determined to pursue art, he gained courage tlnonglt study of Maxim Gorky‘s biography and struggled brrav·rely l through the hardships of city life. He was keen to ind a rnaster who would nurture his talent and guide him in pursuing the long cherished interests of painting. Chitra Pritam. tmortgh an acquaintance Obaidullah Aleem, a poet, met the nrodern master; jamil Naqsh, who observed qualities in this young artist. To encourage his innovative mind, jamil Naqsh him space to work in his own house. Under jarnil Naqsh`s guidance, Chitra reached the status where he stands to»dav. Guided by the renowned artist, he explored the posasibilinres of oil paints, which to this day remains to be his favourite medium.

Pritam Das (Chitra Pritam’s Father)

Chitra is proud to be jamil Naqsh’s disciple. He dotes on as an idol. He believes that all that he is blessed with flows from Jamil Naqsh. Chitra Pritam is a dedicated artist who has great command over art and continues to hone his skills. His works portrays beauty in a number of ways and depicts his thought process and is a testament to his individuality and expressive inrgenuity. Painting gives Chitra Pritam wonderful, truly marvelous and serene feeling. His intense paintings speak volumes abo ut seasoned artist. All of his art pieces are eye-catching full of vibrant crolors and rich texture. Each of his works whether landscape, abstract or Buddha, seem to be intricately arranged and have a deep meaning. The works on Buddha bring forth the painter’s extraordinary life as an artist to an admirable level of maturity and mastery. Chitra has been a practicing professional for over two decades and has now established himself as an identity on canvas through his unrelenting struggle to achieve his goal. His

The young Chitra Pritam


calligraphic art is no less than a marvel of vision and a strong expression. Chitra depicts it with unique esthetic sense of color depicted in an aura of antiquity. Elaborating his work he said, “I like to let a painting evolve as I paint, rather than planning everything out in detail before I start. This is not to say that I start painting without an idea of what I’m trying to do; rather it’s that I don’t stick to it religiously as I go along if I find that something else is vvorking’’.

Landscape Painting A number of painters in Pakistan have a keen preference for landscapes. This is perhaps the reason why Chitra Pritam has been able to put soul into his canvases that depict native soil. His landscapes are a play of changing light and shade. He says that he entered the world of art for self discovery. Hailing from a rustic background, Chitra’s love affair with the village life continues. He has deep attachment with the soil

Acrylic on canvas, 2010 20 x 24


and rural life that is reflected in his work. Hills and valleys doted with goats, buffaloes, camels, bullock carts, peasant men and women, vast green Helds, big shady trees, cool streams and mud houses. The shrine of Moosa Nawab, which recurs in his paintings, shows his deep fascination for the variety of lights that it cast during different hours of day & night. Chitra’s landscapes have glimpses of William Turner’s artwork, one of the fathers of Impressionism based in England in the late 19th century The degree of similarity between the freshness and natural color is due to his inclination to achieve equivalent impressions; some intended & some accidental. Like visionary Turner and poetic Constable - the landscape masters-Chitra’s true ambitions are directed towards landscape compositions on a large scale, which are deeply felt, experienced and deliberately composed. His impressions of nature are largely painted by collecting material for the composition from nature. His landscapes are thoughtful and traditional in his use of warm colours and brushwork.

The Raw Backyard

sunshine both are necessary for a villager as both are the key elements in forecasting weather. The sky reveals the good or bad days it will bring for the farmers in future. His paintings depict different styles and time periods as well as distinct picturesqueness. His pen drawings may be described as landscapes brought to life through the magic lines. lt is the lines that give visual balance to the paintings and his command over lines is impressive. Chitra has worked hard for many years and has gone far to discover this form of universal art. His determination has taught him the language of lines and now with his experience he has achieved the art of true expression.

Acrylic on canvas, 2009 16 x 18

The Golden Expanse

One can witness a great variety of handling in the landscape paintings exercised by Chitra, some are almost expressionistic, while others are comparatively painted with precision. He enjoys doing paintings of the native landscape and encompasses universal feelings and concepts of nature. Every painting looks as if it’s in search of truth and beauw through the use of color, form and light. His style in building a volume of foliage is traditional whereby the painter is required to proceed from dark to light. The feel of color consistency and effect given by the painting medium with a touch of light and shade enhance the composition and reflects the beauty of nature on his canvas. He is successful in reproducing effects of light in a natural progression from the foreground to the distant view.

The space defines its own character in Chitra`s paintings, be it a landscape or calligraphy It is quiet interesting as the whole painting seems to hold that space within it. Most of the landscapes are relatively small but the landscapes revealing his native village are often very large. Landscapes depict various scenes of village in different times of the day and year - like a moonlight scene, an afternoon scene, a golden evening scene, a woodland scene, a farm scene and a rainy scene, an impressive view of mustard Held with lush yellow flowers of mustard.

Influenced by Natural Beauty Seascape Painting Chitra is a genuine landscape artist and painting is his only passion. Therefore he pays tribute to the city of lights - Karachi by painting seascapes - a way he is best at. He believes that

Chitra seems to have full command and control on colours. His paintings depict the countryside as the reflection of nature, which leave a soothing effect. He embraces the changing moods of time to capture the variation of seasons. It seems that he is actually present in his landscape. His paintings communicate with the viewers who can experience a quiet rural life of peace and harmony with nature through them. He uses nature to provide solace to the city dwellers, living a distressed fast life. The landscape backgrounds are increasingly prominent and skillfully painted. He has adopted a style of panoramic landscapes with an elevated view The clouds and the sky have a distinguished importance owing to their subtle realist technique for depictmg light and weather. The clouds and Acrylic on canvas, 2009 14 x 16

The Approaching Storm


this city has given him name and fame and he must express his feelings towards Karachi.

Chitra used to paint very cautiously and in great detail, this is especially apparent in his boat and seaside scenes. The forms of the boats are very carefully and minutely depicted and the people visiting seaside in a happy mood full of life fill his seascape with life. While painting impressionistically his work remains impressive and genuine, both in the case of seascapes and landscapes, but more so the latter. The process of painting allows him to communicate with people through his art. He tries to capture his feelings in paintings whether on paper, canvas or board;’they are a rich blend of reality and the versatility of his imagination which results in something new and refreshing.

Chitra’s Calligraphic Endeavours Calligraphic is an important aspect of Islamic art that has progressed alongside the religion of Islam and the Arabic language. Contemporary artists, other than the follower of Islam, were drawn to the beauty of this Islamic art. Chitra Pritam, a known artist for his personal abilities, researched on the heritage of calligraphy and used calligraphic inscriptions in his art work. His inner urge to seek solace led him to Calligraphic. Chitra is highly influenced by Islamic heritage and this can be seen on his canvas with a strong background of bright colours in calligraphy Specialization in colour and texture speaks for themselves.

Inspired by Islamic motifs and traditions he uses different design patterns, bold brush strokes and detailed inscriptions, all of which are characteristic of his style. He is drawn towards bright vibrant colours and his compositions are embellished with a variety of old calligraphic seals and different textures. Balanced, aesthetics and modern forms are all well integrated in his work and result in art which is rich and creative in nature. Most of the artists who use heavy colours in their paintings always lean more on decorative designs, the pleasing quality of the visual Held rather than on artistic expressions. Chitra’s case however; is different where his artistic expressions speak for themselves and need no interpretation.


Acrylic on canvas, 2009

18 x 24

Chitra in calligraphy follows the style of Jamil Naqsh, the master of this technique, who first dared to deviate from pure calligraphy toward abstract expressionism. Like Jamil Naqsh, Chitra has also broken away from the traditional script of Sadequain and Hanif Ramay. In fact its Jamil Naqsh, Chitra’s Guru who gave Chitra permission to leam the Holy Qura’n and do calligraphy Initially when Chitra started painting calligraphy he was faced with controversy. Chitra’s calligraphie paintings are widely appreciated for the new wave of calligraphic breakthroughs that have been achieved. Chitra became familiar to the Holy Quran during his school days and to this day he reads Maulana Maududi’s translation for linding refuge from worldly anxieties. Chitra believes that an object of passion can be anything and anybody. When one is fully absorbed in one’s passion, then one sees his lover, his God everywhere and in everything. He said, “I have started painting calligraphy with the permission of my Guru ( Jamil Naqsh), and until he stops me, I will continue? Works of Chitra Pritam in pen and ink on paper and oil on board is popular amongst art lovers. Chitra Pritam, through

Acrylic on board, 2005

his brilliant use of colours and superb balance between arrangement and form, creates an immediate soft visual impact. His painting’s strong aesthetic appeal not only invites a closer look but also gives a new message every time the viewer sees it. Another distinctive feature of his calligraphy is his preference for covering of surface with random patterns in strong colors mat gives his paintings a beautiful and attractive look. He uses dark colors in the background that enhance the words and make them appealing and attractive to the viewers. The effect of such calligraphy is eye-catching, besides being graceful and


16 x 15

Calligraphy is not a simple art; it demands great patience and heightened sensitivity for composition and colors. His painting with minimum use of colors and strokes also leave a strong and impressive impact. The lines are the most important element on the canvas.The artist plays with curves, loops, circles, squares cubes and other motifs of adornment, especially in calligraphy which express the state of his feelings. In calligraphy he uses the fusion of bright colors that culminate into a powerful depiction. Chitra Pritam’s pen and ink calligraphic works are highly unusual and complex. These eye-catching and beautiful calligraphies reveal his superb control over line and form.


Acrylic on canvas, 2008 24 x 24


Distant Thoughts

Chitra P1itam’s landscapes and calligraphies reveal that existence is synonymous with truth and beauty.

Chitra’s Vision of Buddha Artists are endowed with a rich sense of beauty and their creative effort makes it possible to give beauty a tangible form and share the joy of their creation with others in one form or the other. And Chitra Pritam did exactly the same, he selected painting to vent his creative skills. Being passionate about Buddha and his art acumen, he combines the two passions in the brilliant Buddha paintings. His paintings have a surreal quality created by the use of layers of colors. The compositions of his paintings give viewers an intimate closeness with Buddha’s teachings and his tribulations. Painnng has always been a favorite form of expression for the mankind and one of its best examples is the Gandhara civilization. Gandhara sculpture itself was always gilded and painted and the surface or niches in which it was set were covered with painting. Unfortunately, painting is more fragile than sculpture. So, while we have myriad examples of Gandhara sculpture, very little painting has survived in what is now Pakistan, except what has been excavated in Swat. The main subject of Gandhara civilization was Buddha - Buddha in Sanskrit means “Awakened one” or “Enlightened One”. A statue or other representation of a Buddha is commonly known

Acrylic on board, 2008 13 x 13.5

Female Buddha in Prayer

as “The Buddha”. Buddha was a spiritual teacher in the northem region of the indian sub-continent. Chitra Pritam creates one of a kind acrylic painting that captures the beautiful expressions of Buddha. The remarkable life of Buddha has inspired Chitra since long and he continued to discover Buddha in his paintings. His work reflects Buddha’s philosophy of life and depth of vision. The life and teachings of the Buddha follow some systematic rules that inspired a number of people around the world. A number of revolutionary figures of modern times, including Gandhi, have been inspired by the life and teachings of the Buddha and so do many sculptors and artists like Chitra Pritam. The sense of the form and the face are the main technique to bring out the expressions. He had very good knowledge of the background and the main body shape and details about the subject he is working on. Chitra Pritam”s work is a class of its own kind. His paintings of Buddha depict immense skill and compositional sense. He has a very mature knowledge of the subject and his approach to the modern techniques is marvelous. His dealing with the subject is all that matters as it brings out the crux of the subject very intelligently and reveals his superb control over images.

Acrylic on board, 2008 13 x 13.5

Contemplation Beyond Material


manages to capture the personality of the Buddha very successfully He painted the figures of Buddha mostly in a sitting position like in meditation with eyes closed - in others with open eyes watching the world changing in front of him. Some in the pose of yoga, with feet crossed at the ankles, while the hands form the characteristic Buddhist mudras. The flexible fingers seem to act with weariness and their almond eyed faces gaze forth with leisurely expression, and some with mystical concentration. As we all know Buddha is taken as a symbol of peace the world over. Chitra inspired by Buddha’s life decided to paint Buddha to spread the message of peace as Buddha wants through his canvasses and in today’s scenario it is a major issue that needs to be addressed.

Oil on board, 2005 16 x 16

Enveloped in Nirvana

The beautiful, soft and delicate images of Buddha appearing on Chitra’s canvasses touch the vievver’s hearts. The soft visual impact created by the brilliant use of colours and superb balance between form and design delivers the message of peace and harmony to the people. Chitra’svisualknowledgethathegainedovertheyearsisthekey ability which enhanced with the process of artistic creativity Chitra’s present status in the painting world is a gift of his constant exercise and the years he has devoted to quench his thirst for art. He enjoys the medium of his work whether acrylic or oil and plays, with the lines and colors to bejewel his canvas. The basic technique that counts are of line and form, which gives amazing movement in the composition and Chitra has command on them. Chitra has chosen Buddha, a special issue — a prehistoric subject that he combined with the modern age in cubic form along with fine lines and bold colors. He has captured Buddha in various moods, actions and the traditional roles. While most of his paintings are done in the realistic style some have been rendered in the abstract. He


Every painting of Buddha is in search of peace and beauty through the use of colour, form, and light, it is not just what the eye sees, but what the soul senses. Figure of Buddha j appears on the canvas, highlighted by bright red, orange, blue, cloudy white and festive colours. Nothing in his paintings, shapes, colours, forms are out of place or forced, everything appears balanced, harmonious and a joy to behold. His paintings, through a long creative journey have also become non-objective with abstract forms. Mostly artists in our cotmtry follow European style of abstract painting while Chitra’s work is based on Indian methodology in circles. He paints universal feelings and concepts, rather than objects, his expressions go beyond representational images - just as music can express more than words. Every painting is an adventure in the search for truth and beauty through the use of color, form, and light. He always looks beyond the surface to depict how people respond to nature, it is not just what meets the eye, but what the spirit responds to. Nadeem Zuberi

Acrylic on canvas, 2009 30 x 30

The Descending Nirvana


Acrylic on canvas, 2009 16 x 16


Earthen passages

Acrylic on board, 2008 13 x 13.5


Shrine in West Light Oli on canvas, 2009 30 x 42


A Fresh Look at Landscape Painting


he earliest paintings in the landscape genre are attributed to Chinese artists. During the Renaissance period of art, landscapes often formed an ideal background to the subject. As a subject in its own right, landscape painting in Europe appears to have been established in the 16th century dominated by German artists. Dutch landscape artists predominated in the 17th century but by the 18th and 19th centuries, it was the British artists who weredominant. Landscape painting played a pivotal role in the development of modernism, from the formal analysis of Cubism to the Eauves.

Expressionism and Surrealism Though numerous interesting art developments evolved in our century; the genre of landscape painting remains important to the artist. In recent times there has been an increasing sense of the merging of urban and rural experience. This phenomenon is strong in the work of Sousa who, living in the heart of New York refers constantly to his birthplace, Goa; Veteran painter Cassim Mapara, urbane, Calcutta trained, draws frequently on the tranquility he hnds in the countryside of Bahawalpur, where he spent an idyllic quarter of a century. It has often been stated that no artist is ever viewed in isolation. One takes to a display a lifetime of picture gazing, so that new notions are absorbed into a kaleidoscopic panorama of impressions. These feelings were very strong at the recent debut of a young artist. Chitra, who is familiar with the same area as Mapara has a totally different viewpoint. While Mapara’s work has a refined mystic strain, Chitra’s vigorous landscapes, blunt broad strokes of paint freely applied, suggest the fertile crudeness and honest simplicity of the rustic viewpoint. The bright array of paintings delights the eye with the sheer physicality of paint and pigment. Often the colouration and wildly executed brush-work echo the paeans to nature found in the work of Van Gogh, but Chitra’s interpretation of the genre is his own.

The Country Scenes Sadiqabad, straw-coloured earth reflected in skies or water, speak of the vital importance of the soil as a life giving force. The artist’s statement is timeless, significant to a century ago as well as to the present. Crops shimmer with heat while an occasional hardy tree throws some shade for welcome relief to the eyes. One can smell the earth in Chitra’s paintings. These landscapes belong to the world of man - robust, sunbaked. Respite is found only as the evening approaches. Painting the landscape at different times of the day the artist shares with the viewer a variety of changing sensations, from the bright heat of morning to the poignant close of day. Chitra captures the stillness in the atmosphere that is only found in rural areas. The ground exudes heat. Stretching as far as the eye can see there is a theatre of changing colour in the. skies. When work is over for the day, exhaustion is seen in the pose of the resting animals. A few straws floating lazily in the canal indicate the changed cycle. Colours of earth and sky gradually unite while the world rests. One, almost mural size painting depicts a field of mustard seed in full flower seen against the backdrop of a breathtaking blue sky It spreads before the eye in a glorious profusion of nature’s power and beauty One could ahnost walk into the painting. There are cityscapes too. Here the artist describes his impressions of streets and traffic with exuberant, energetic brush strokes. These paintings bring together the fragmented aspects of his experience. A fortuitous meeting with ]amil Naqsh in ‘89, encouraged Chitra to begin painting. Guided by the renowned artist, he explored the possibilities of oil paints, still his favourite meditun. Texture is extremely important in Chitra’s work in which the tactile, almost relief like brush-work sweeps across the canvas. Chitra’s countryside is a vital, breathing panorama in which the earth is proliferating in a cycle of seasons set by nature andthe elements before the coming of man. (Dawn, May 2-8, 1995)

Marjorie Husain


Oil on canvas, 2008 30 x 36


Converging Fish Hunters

Chitra’s Coming of Age


lthough Chitra Pritam was not at the Gallery when I recently looked in, the exhibition space was permeated with his presence. In preparation for a display of his paintings the walls were decked with work that could only have emerged from his brush. Ranging from enormous panels to standardsize surfaces, on view were three sequences of importance to his maturity as an artist. A series of landscape paintings appeared to have opened windows on a rustic panorama that has changed little through the centuries. Presentlg with his life centered in the city, the artist aspires to give substance to memories and impressions of early years. The result of this nostalgic mood is paintings that capture the essence of an age—old way of life, one that looks at seasons and their unchanging cycle. Chitra’s belief in his ability, a national award, and regular appearances on the exhibition circuit, owe much to the stimulus given by Naqsh. Perhaps Naqsh perceived in the raw talent a capacity for serious involvement, the dedication and need for expressions that are vital components of an artist’s life. Naqsh has been mentor to several artists, notably N ajmi Sura, Mona Naqsh, Amber Aslam and Chitra. The veteran artist does not examine the work in process. His method is to give time to those he deems worthy, by setting aside all other matters. Naqsh sits in his usual relaxed way on the carpeted floor and studies in detail the work set before him. With the yotmger artist by his side, Naqsh explains, describes, criticises in a positive way, and sends the artist back to work with a new resolve. From him, Chitra has learnt to ‘see’ his subject with an inner eye, one that is able to penetrate all the infinitesimal shades that emerge from a colour. Examine Chitra’s painted skies in a large panel one views a wide-stretching rustic panorama. Occasional trees and glimpse of a canal enliven the rich earth. The focus of interest is a figure wheeling a bicycle along a country road that leads over a canal bridge, presumably heading for a hamlet barely discernible in the far distance. A remarkable feature of the

Oil on canvas, 2007 20 x 24

Mustard Path Shrine

painting is the vast expanse of sky reaching half way down the painting: it is a subtly toned mass of palest hues that dominates the work without distracting the eye. Chitra Pritam’s collection is at comprehensive one; it consists of approximately fifty paintings based on themes he has spent the last decade exploring: landscapes, modern calligraphy, and impressions of the fisheries. The subjects of Chitra’s work are not uncommon, they are avenues often explored by Karachi’s artists, but while the focus may be general, his handling of the media brings a piquant individuality to his viewpoint. No longer the ‘youngster from the village’ painting with passionate, impasto violence, guided by Jamil Naqsh, Chitra


learnt to control his emotions and his paints. Working with a purpose and discipline that heralded his coming of age as an artist, the figurative style symbols commonly synonymous with rural Punjab, encompassed not only cattle and croplands, but also metaphysics. The viewer is aware of mazars and legends, the physical dimensions of a space and how they can be dominated by an intangible atmosphere. Chitra’s growing maturity as an artist became evident in an exhibition of paintings held in 1997. Here the ardst examined the environs of Sadiqabad and the Mazar of the holy man, Musa Nawab, an integral thread in the weave of life linked to his ancestral village, Sanjarpur. Taking the example of Naqsh who painted one hundred studies of a single pigeon each different from the other, Chitra studied every aspect of the legendary saint’s tomb.

Changing moods saw the mazar enlivened by the sunlight of day turning the white dome gold among the dense greenery, or the cool rays of the moon casting mysterious shadows on the night darkened foliage. Later paintings witnessed the artist’s burgeoning interest in people and their activities, whether riding in a tonga in the country towns, walking the streets or enjoying the sandy beaches of Karachi., He discovered the fisheries and the colour, movement and power of water. More recently Chitra turned to gestural expressionism conveyed through the media of calligraphic art. In this current display the viewer observes the change, from expressionistic impetuousness to a deepening sense of dialogue, (Dawn, October 10, 2001)

Marjorie Husain


Oil on board, 2000 24 x 30 Private collection

Harvest in Impending Monson

Oil on canvas, 2007 20 x 24 Private collection

Native Village


Oil on canvas, 2010 36 x 48


Raw Earth Mercury Rising

Changing Hues of Permanence


andscape painting in Pakistan has not been the hobbyhorse of a significant number of young painters. May be the reason is simple; very few painters have been able to put their ‘souls’ into their canvases. Perhaps the modern painter has found himself/herself completely hooked on _,the modernistic fads of visual expression. Hence we witness a great deal of ‘subjectivism’ — sometimes psychedelic fantasies — in a manner which smacks of a blind following of the Western idiom devoid of any relevance to our own situation. The English painters of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries were in tune with the Romantic Movement in poetry and architecture. It looked as if there was a great burst of euphoria, for the idyllic nature of their canvases ran counter to the spirit of classicism which sought to regulate human imagination to the set rules of discipline. Man was no doubt in the centre stage of their intellectual pursuits. As a consequence, nature was relegated to a secondary position. Chitra Pritam, a disciple of ]amil Naqsh, has for sometime been pressing his claim to be yet another serious landscape painter with a great potential to blossom. He has been successful in recording progress of time in ‘painting’ by way of recording changing lights and shades in the course of a day. His paintings celebrate his love affair with his village, Sanjarpur, Sadiqabad. The tomb of his villages patron-saint is the centre of attention. He chooses different time of the day to work out his nostalgia - daybreak, noon and evening. It is really bewitching to see how the mystical frame of the artist’s mind combines with the mode of colours. One can’t help but appreciate the ambience that these paintings exude: a longing to discover one ’s native moorings , which give inner strength to the seeker of solace. I think that Chitra Pritam enjoys full control over colours. A precious feeling is induced in the onlookers to regard countryside as the work of Nature. It inculcates a kind of reconciliation. It soothes. It comforts. Our countryside is also astir with a number of ‘tensions’,

Oil on canvas, 2009 30 x 42

The Golden Field

which were unknown a few decades before. Old values are receding and a mercantilist approach is becoming the order of the day. Chitra’s devotion to his village’s patron-saint betrays his predilection for a society where even the changes worth recording have a permanence of their own. The sun, the mausoleum and the landscape are admirably fused together to evoke a comfortable feeling - the changing shades of permanence. He takes time in preparing the surface he is working on until he finds the exact shade, texture and reflection to match his feelings. I think that no other painter in Pakistan has depicted the changing moods of Time, as well as Chitra Pritam has done.


Oil on board, 2005 16 x 18 Private Collection

His colours are evocative of multifarious moods and he makes them explain the changing moods ofthe landscape. He is very much there in his landscape and, like a good artist, he doesn’t fail to betray a simple mind negotiating a perplexing phenomenon. I believe that he has brought to bear upon his landscape a sense of urgency which makes his landscape communicate with us. Living in cities we hardly realise how dehumanised we are prone to become with each successive day. We live in a city which rarely cares for its citizens and there are those who


ensure that the process of alienation keeps on gathering momentum. It is, therefore, all the more important that we should hail every attempt to invoke Nature as a therapy to counter the rampant feelings of apathy and indifference. MA. Siddiqui

Oil on board, 2004 13 x 13.5


Oil on board, 2004 13 x 13.5


‘Auraq’ Modern Calligraphic Paintings


hitra Pritam, being a disciple of ]amil Naqsh and on top of it enjoying his blessings, has tried to persist in according preference to painterly obsessions so much so that every painting is a typical case of a wilful departure from the conventional efforts made so far in the field. Chitra, like jamil Naqsh, does not subordinate the compositional brilliance and virtuosity of a painting to design and the allurement of design to calligraphy. He does not want to settle for less. Every painting is first of all a painting and it tends to seek its validation on this yardstick alone. One need not to go into the grand with the art of calligraphy , as the calligraphy itself. Going through Chitra Pritam’s paintings I could discern that this obsession with the painterly treatment is not too self conscious as it could otherwise be. After all being jamil Naqsh’s disciple has a price and that is not something easy to pay. He is a stickler for perfectionism and it is rather difficult to get his kudos or Aashirvaad. Chitra Pritam has, perhaps, got it in abundance and the confidence emanating from the canvasses speaks for it. Chitra Pritam’s calligraphies are highly unusual. On the face of it they are no calligraphies. They are first and foremost paintings in their own rights. They have a rhythm and dynamism of their own and all that calligraphic motifs- or their” suggested existence” help to provide the key to the feelings which the Quranic verses have inspired. They portray the feelings of devotees - a devotional of the Creator. Chitra Pritam’s pen and ink calligraphic patterns are a difficult fare indeed. Very pleasant and eye—catching to look at, the main feature is Chitra Pritam’s fantastic control over the movement of pen to make his work look like intricate jewehy designs. Every letter and word is tucked in its proper place. No liberties have been taken to elongate or shorten a letter.

Oil on board, 2004 13 x 13.5

visual sense. It appears that he has tried t0 prove that the Reality is synonymous with truth and beauty in the true Platonic sense. Each of his calligraphiescomes as an invitation to be dazzled by an imagination which has made a unique use of the traditional motifs. Chitra Pritam’s pen & ink and oil on board compositions are a tribute to versatility of an imagination which takes delight in coming up with something new and refreshing. Prof. Dr. Muhammad Ali Siddiqui

It is exceedingly refreshing that full artistic interplay with the space has been possible without any tinkering with the compositions. Chitra Pritam’s landscapes and calligraphies appeal to the


Oil on canvas, 2007 20 x 24


Mustard Path to the Shrine

Chitra Pritam’s Paintings Carry Smell of Native Soil, Rain Sodden Earth


hen I met Chitra Pritam and saw his paintings, I was reminded of the novels and short stories of late Prem Chand, a remarkable writer, whose writings carried the smell of native soil, fresh crop fields, rain sodden earth and stinking ponds where goats and cows bath lazily in the company of the human beings sharing the same water and same muck. The paintings of Chitra Pritam have that quality of rural sincerity which brought genuineness in the panoramic settings of the sleepy village - big shady trees, vast green fields, buffaloes, camels, bullock carts, downtrodden men and women and the gloomy shadows of the shrine of Musa Nawab. It was a world of hinterland. His is a strange story of a person who lived in a secluded shell, almost isolated from the rest of the world and then suddenly was thrown into a highly activated and energized world of the Karachi art circuit, must be a mind boggling experience for Pritam, particularly since he has been sucked into an explosive turmoil of a mega metropolis. His paintings reflect the peace of the chirping birds. It is a world of peaceful bliss. Chitra Pritam is in love with the morning light and the lengthening shadows of the setting sun. In a folklorist way he is painting what he has left behind in his native village. There are no highs and lows, yet there is the all pervading bliss of the Shrine which stands guard to the daily routine of the silent scenario and guarantees “all is well�, like the spiritual godfather. He is captivated with the shimmering shades of cool blues and in tense greens juxtaposing them with orange and yellows. The vastness of sky changes colours with the rising and setting of the sun. For him, sky is as interesting as the land mass. But despite all the peace and melancholy at times, Pritam paints his sky with agitating strokes, turning a peaceful sky into a threatening one. Allotting huge areas, he frll, his sky with anger, a loaded space which is about to burst. Here proportions vary: at times land remains just a thin strip, sky consuming rest of the space as an expression of a natural reaction of a villager who is more bothered about the weather than an urbanite.

Detail of painting page 41

That weather plays a significant role in the life of the village folk is not difficult to assess. An overcast sky is as much bliss as it could well be a menace to the standing crop. Anyway here is a creative talent with a photographic memory of a pastoral community. There is predominance of rural views with small hamlets and vast green fields. He in his oils has attempted to capture the tranquility and beauty of the idyllic settings. His yellow mustard fields are eye catching, the smell of the good earth, done with a feeling. His huge canvasses are the testimony of his firsthand experience. In that sense, he is the first genuine painter who has painted rural scenario with rustic simplicity. (The News, April 30, 1995) Hameed Zaman


Acrylic on canvas, 2009 18 x 24


Chitra Pritam’s Colorful Calligraphy


here is no reason to be surprised if Chitra Pritam has fallen victim to the charms of Islamic calligraphy. He may or may not be a believer but at least he can read the holy words. On the other hand, there is a long line of famous European painters like Paul Klee, Baumeister, Hrtung and Soulages, who have been enchanted just by the look or the face of our calligraphy without knowing its meaning. The ecstatic movement of the line charmed them, and they introduced it into their own work. Chitra Pritam, however, is smitten with a deeper love, as one can gather from talking to him and looking at his 85 calligraphic canvases, among which are two large murals; 4x8 and 4x6 feet. It is a Herculean task that he has accomplished and it has been possible only because of devotion and pure love. However, as everyone knows, lovers and devotees are slightly distraught people, overwhelmed by their emotions. Their expressions may or may not convey their deep feelings because their mind is overworked. The same is true of Chitra. in many of his paintings he seems to have laid on the paint with a trowel and churned it up with his brush. The general principle he has followed seems to be that he paints the outer areas in dark colours and within that lighter ones, while at the centre, is often a whitish glow that is supposed to be the holy word. The viewer has to be cooperative and sympathetic to make out the mystic word because that’s the idea behind it. Another composition- that, he follows is to make the base very dark and to work upward with lighter and lighter colours until he reaches the upper half or one—third of the canvas, here a form rises up in whitish blur or whitish purple like a mountain peak, against a suitable background colour, like scarlet or orange, and this peak is supposed to be the holy word. Another device is to enclose the canvas with a narrow or broad border and within this vertical rectangle he makes some linear patterns in black line or in white, fuzzily furtively and illegiblg for they are fewer words than visions. They are

Acrylic on canvas, 2008 14 x 15

like faded writing on some old manuscript containing holy words and sacred symbols. The exhibition is entitled ‘Auraq’ which means ‘leaves’ or ‘pages’. Some paintings do answer to this description, which follow the format last described, the one with the broad borders enclosing a vertical oblong like a page. To add to the illusion of the page, often a small compact doodle is made that looks like the Bismillah often found on the top of the page. Sometimes, the artist even obliges the perplexed viewer by making some scribbles in a series of lines, as in the usual page of a book. But that is rare. (Dawn, December 27, 2007)

S. Amjad Ali


Oil on canvas, 2006 30 x 42 Private collection


The Solittary Tree

Oil on canvas, 2009 18 x 24

Slicing through Shimmering Waters


Oil on canvas, 2010 18 x 24


The Quiet Haveli

Rich and Fabulous


hitra Pritam’s emergence in Karachi as an immensely productive first landscape painter in oil is quite a phenomenon. We already have a gifted group of landscape painters in water colour, as Abdul Hayee, Ghalib Baqar, Hanif Shehzad, Manzoorul Hassan, M. Yousuf, Mukhtar Haider and (semi-abstract) Zahin Ahmed. But it seemed as if landscape oil painting was the closed preserve of Lahore. Now Chitra Pritam has come within a few years’ time in this category of artists and the amount of work he has done is overwhelming. He works with incredible dedication and is fortunate to have the guidance of Jamil Naqsh. It is interesting to note that just as Claude Monet, the leader of the Impressionists, was so fascinated by Rouen Cathedral that he painted it 50 times. Likewise Chitra Pritam is so devotedly obsessed with the tomb of Moosa Nawab in his village Sanjarpur, Sadiqabad, that he has painted it and the verdant scene around it, scores of times. Naturally it has a certain solemnity which becomes ahnost awesome when he shows the white tomb emerging of a sea of dun-coloured undifferentiated vegetation. A marked change is noticed in his recent paintings. He renders the entire scene in stippling technique so that there are vast areas of foreground hill or upland and sky that are featureless and almost abstract except for a lone tree on one side. One is overwhehned by the laborious stippling that defines the scene and seems to have become an end in itself.

Detail of painting page 21

(Dawn, September 28, 1997)

S.Amjad Ali

Acrylic on canvas, 2009 14 x 15

Bidding Farewell


Pen and Ink on paper, 2008 12 x 14


Magical Lines


hitra’s paintings are a sum of drawing skills, compositional sensibility, and jewel like placing of colour in delicate fomis. With a deeply felt emotional response, Chitra combines these attributes in an aesthetic whole. These are all his new works. In his early calligraphic paintings the writings were not readable whereas his current displays consist of readable verses. This exhibition can be termed as a gift to the parting year that went through the trial of experiencing grotesque shows of calligraphic paintings laden with gold and raw hues. Chitra in the true spirit of his name (Painter), weaves delicate designs with pen and ink and uses dots - essential part of Arabic alphabets — as jewels in a piece of ornament. His line takes shape .of semi-circles, triangles on rectangular and square grounds prepared in mild hues on paper. Chitra’s current calligraphic designs with pen and ink on paper, somehow remind of Ashok Bhomwick’s line work on paper displayed at Hamail Art Gallery Lahore. Although the works of both the artists is on absolutely different themes yet there is an intrinsic relationship between them. Ashok, a Delhi based artist painted street children in closely knit straight lines that crossed each other to create figures. His figures were full of movement without involving a circular movement of line. Ashok works on the mundane and makes aesthetic use of the folk art. Chitra uses the same line to express parallels - his spiritual anguish and peace. The anguish takes birth from his search for the truth that leads him to study the Holy Qura’n and explanation of the Holy verses by Maulana Maudoodi. His pen moves in a rhythm and suddenly a letter emerges on the canvas. Sometimes the movement takes a leap and there appear triangles and semicircles to create poetic forms. The main force behind Chitra’s creativity is spiritual bound. His renditions on canvas are like those of a saint understanding the message of humanity and compassion.

he adopts a different technique to create colourful aesthetic forms with the sensibility of a jeweler that dazzle like gems on his canvases. Chitra refuses to take his themes from the West. He loves his soil and clings to it for references. His thinking has not changed with time. The passion and quest that he had as a youth still persist. Chitra treats colours as a family As a painter he thinks that colours also have feelings. He believes that on canvas a colour should not feel lonely It should be at its proper place. As far as technique is concerned, he is influenced by his mentor - jamil Naqsh. Drawing is prior to everything for him, strong drawing made his paintings attractive. An artist without a formal art schooling, self-made Chitra, kept alive the simple and colourful aesthetics of rural life while roughing a livelihood in urban Karachi. He has no regrets for not having a formal art education. He thinks that formal education in the subject would have made him a craftsman if he was not a born artist. He believes that devotion and hard work nourish the inborn traits and one emerges as an artist. From early morning till late evening Chitra is busy painting in his studio. He knows that devotion to a cause deprives a person of so many things in life. Chitra is a simple man and at times one can see a Sufi in him. He says, “When I peep in my own self, I find it empty. When I glance at the works of the renowned artists of the world, the feeling of emptiness encompasses.” (The Daily News, December 31, 2005 )

Shamim Akhter

In landscape and calligraphic painting he has confirmed his individuality. He creates jewel like effects on his landscapes with textural, short knife strokes. In his calligraphic paintings


Absorbing the Universe Acrylic on canvas 2008 18 x 24


A New Language of Images


xcellence can only come from dedication and determination no matter what the endeavour. In art, it’s the degree of involvement plus hard work that results in something rewarding. Once that inner sense of direction comes to play then a personalised form of end product calls for recognition. It is in this recognition that an artist measures his/her level of achievement. Chitra Pritam has worked hard, given his best, and thus is recognised on his own merit. His work reflects the attention he pays to many the details, the composition and the observance of codes of colour in its application. He knows no barrier when it comes to giving time to his work, and lets nothing stand in way to producing excellence, landscapes or calligraphy he takes both seriously and as a challenge rather than a routine. For him, hours of day or night are to be counted or distributed into separate functions but towards his one love - painting. Chitra is indeed lucky for having a mentor like jamil Naqsh, a master painter who is recognised as an artist of excellence at home and abroad. Under his guidance, Chitra found the direction and all the encouragement that was needed to begin the most arduous journey to become an artist with a difference. For him this was an opportunity of a lifetime. His devotion to work and an inner urge to scale the heights took him to levels reserved for artists having special talents. Working unlimited hours per day and continually striving to produce the best, he is serving his love for art in a manner that he knows best. Thus Chitra Pritam has succeeded where many have failed. Painting landscapes and unusually attractive calligraphy in different modes, he has made a name for himself and feels honoured when his guru looks with interest at his work and gives a nod approvingly As Chitra says; “this is a gift to me, my reward is my mentor’s appreciation.” as I have seen him in his own work environment I can say that Chitra is meticulous in his approach to what he wants. He tries to give his best by working hard, reworking and trying for that special satisfaction necessary for an artist to achieve: This shows that he takes his work very seriously - painting and calligraphy He takes time in preparing the surface he is working on until he finds the exact shade, texture and reflection to

Oil on board, 2004

13 x 13.5

match his feelings. It is then that he builds his structures and creates divisions, depth and spacing. Murals and landscapes are grounds of his ventures where he produces something different to the ordinary; he captures the essence and not just a scene being reproduced. This is where he distinguishes himself among his contemporaries. For appreciation of an environment where nature produces its own marvels requires aesthetic depth. And for reproducing the same on varied surfaces with paint and brush calls for an artistic ability of deep understanding and handling of the tools in a professional manner. Chitra seems to posses all that. In the art of calligraphy Chitra has developed his own style mixing both khattati and abstract projections. It is done in a manner that the outcome is different from the skills of known schools of khattati. This has given him an edge over playing with letters, words, lines, and background colours. The News, Karachi.

Mohsin S.Jaffri


Landscape Painting

The Golden Fields Oli on canvas, 2009 30 x 42


Oil on board, 2009 48 x 84

The Golden Fields of Yellow Mustard Seed


Acrylic on canvas, 2010 18 x 24


Returning after the Graze

Oil on canvas, 2010 20 x 24

Native Village beyond Mustard Fields


Acrylic on canvas, 2009 16 x 18


Earth and the Winter Sun

Acrylic on canvas, 2009 16 x 18

Scorching Noon


Calligraphic Painting

Oil on paper, 2009 18 x 24 Private Collection


Acrylic on canvas 2009 16 x 20


Acrylic on canvas 2009 16 x 20


Acrylic on canvas 2009 16 x 20


Oil on board, 2004 13 x 13.5


Acrylic on canvas, 2008 14 x 15


Acrylic on canvas, 2009 14 x 15


Acrylic on canvas, 2009 14 x 15


Acrylic on canvas, 2009 14 x 15


Acrylic on canvas, 2009 14 x 15


Acrylic on canvas, 2008 14 x 15


Acrylic on canvas, 2008 14 x 15


Acrylic on board, 2009 13 x 13.5


Acrylic on board, 2009 13 x 13.5


Acrylic on board, 2009 13 x 13.5


Acrylic on board, 2009 13 x 13.5


Acrylic on board, 2009 13 x 13.5


Acrylic on board, 2009 13 x 13.5


Acrylic on board, 2009 13 x 13.5


Acrylic on board, 2009 13 x 13.5


Acrylic on board, 2009 13 x 13.5


Acrylic on board, 2009 13 x 13.5


Acrylic on canvas, 2009 14 x 15


Pen and Ink on paper 2009 10 x 12


Pen and Ink on paper, 2008 12 x 16


Pen and Ink on paper, 2008 12 x 16


Seascape Painting

Oil on canvas, 2010 30 x 36


Disembarking the Days Catch

Oil on canvas, 2010 30 x 36

The Still water


Acrylic on canvas, 2009 16 x 20


Braving the Sun

Acrylic on canvas, 2009 16 x 20

Preparing the Nets


Oil on canvas, 2009 30 x 36


Securing Alongside for the Eve

Oil on canvas, 2009 30 x 36

Departing Fishermen


Acrylic on canvas, 2009 14 x 15


Lashing the Boat

Acrylic on canvas, 2009 14 x 15

Bright Water of Hope


Acrylic on canvas, 2009 14 x 16


Anchored for Fishing

Acrylic on canvas, 2009 14 x 16

Geared for the Long Trip


Acrylic on canvas, 2009 14 x 16


Sorting the Catch

Acrylic on canvas, 2009 14 x 15

Punting away from Shore


Buddha Painting

Oil on board, 2006 13 x 13.5


Transforming Dark into Light

Oil on board, 2006 17 x 14

Rhythmic Nirvana


Oil on board, 2007 17 x 14


Denial of Pleasure

Oil on board, 2006 17 x 14

Distraction of Buddha


Oil on board, 2006 13 x 13.5


Transcendental Meditation

Acrylic on board, 2009 14 x 15

Soul Searching Buddha


Acrylic on canvas, 2009 14 x 16


Graceful female Buddha

Acrylic on canvas, 2009 14 x 16

Female Buddha in Rich Gold


Acrylic on canvas, 2009 14 x 16


Sign of Hope

Acrylic on canvas, 2009 14 x 16

Destined for Peace


Acrylic on canvas, 2008 16 x 20


The Serene Buddha

Acrylic on canvas, 2008 16 x 20

Immersed in Meditation


Acrylic on canvas, 2008 16 x 20


Satisfaction and Apprehension

Acrylic on canvas, 2008 16 x 20

Endless Vision


Acrylic on canvas, 2009 14 x 16


Peaceful Refelections

Acrylic on canvas, 2009 14 x 16

The Captivated Buddha


Acrylic on board, 2008 13 x 13.5


Redemption from Youth

Acrylic on board, 2009 13 x 13.5

Embarking on Pilgrimage


Acrylic on board, 2008 13 x 13.5


Distractions of Buddha

Acrylic on canvas, 2009 18 x 20

Young Buddha Engrossed in Nature


Acrylic on canvas, 2009 14 x 16


Buddha in Ecstasy

Acrylic on canvas, 2009 14 x 16

Gradual Enlightenment


Oil on board, 2006 14 x 16


The Onset of Light

Oil on board, 2009 14 x 16

Seduction of Buddha


Birth Place: Academics: Solo Exhibitions: Landscape Show Landscape Show Calligraphy Show Landscape & Calligraphy Show One Man Show One Man Show Landscape Show Exhibition of Drawings Calligraphy Show Collection of Work’s Show

Sanjarpur - Distt. Rahim Yar Khan, Pakistan Disciple of Jamil Naqsh Momart Gallery Momart Gallery Momart Gallery P.N.C.A Gallery Shakir Ali Museum Ejaz Gallery Momart Gallery Momart Gallery Gulmohar Art Gallery Artscene Art Gallery

1995 1997 1998 2000 2000 2001 2001 2003 2005 2010

Participated in numerous group shows held in various cities at home and abroad.


National Cultural Award August 2000

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