Anwar Maqsood is one of the country’s foremost writers. He is known for his razor-sharp wit and the uncanny ability to create puns out of words that one least expects can be used that way.
But long before he shot to fame as a writer, Maqsood was splashing colours on to canvas/paper and drawing lines that were strong and the hallmark of a painter of high merit. This creative facet is not visible to a big number of his admirers. It is against this backdrop that an exhibition of Maqsood’s artworks that opened on Tuesday at the Koel Café Galley assumes significance.
Maqsood doesn’t paint the way he writes. When he writes, he tends to expose the follies and foibles of the people he knows or interacts with in society. When he paints, he shows his characters in situations whose back-stories are not difficult to decipher but their future course of action is hard to call.
This is especially noticeable in the case of the women he draws. Like all artists worth their salt, Maqsood is fascinated with the female form. The way he draws their eyes indicates he takes partiality for totality. This means once you start looking at/into his character’s eyes, the layers to the rest of her physical self will, as if automatically, be visible, and yet there will be a lot that the viewer will be left to find out in terms of her psychosocial growth. You may call it suspension of belief.
At the heart of it all is the strength of Maqsood’s lines complemented by the profusion of colours and the use of charcoal that he chooses to fill the frame (read: paper) with.
Then comes the symbols: birds. Bird and human make a meaningful pair. The meaning gets manifold if a sad-looking girl is seen alongside a fidgety bird.
The exhibition will conclude on October 30.
Originally published in Dawn, October 18th, 2017