Long before Anwar Maqsood became famous as a writer and satirist, he was known in art circles as a painter of enviable potential. As time passed by, his art gained the finesse and poignancy that’s the hallmark of all creative souls worth their salt.
To state the obvious, we are going through an unprecedented period in history where people, even those who take pride in their technological prowess, are asked to stay in their homes for the collective betterment of the world.
Artists, like individuals belonging to any other segment of society, have complied with the directive. Maqsood too has confined himself to the walls of his house. What has he been doing? Answer: painting in the time of a deadly virus.
For the uninitiated, let’s briefly touch upon two of the recurrent motifs in his art. They are birds and eyes. Both can be and have been interpreted in several ways. But this time around, as he remains cooped up in his residence, they have assumed a deeper level of emotional depth.
Yes, emotional depth is something that not many artists are able to convey with conviction, but in Maqsood’s images it’s visible like the rising sun in summer.
Then there are other elements such as the boxed windows, trees and the hanging crescent which add an extra dimension to the feeling of, for want of a better word, forlornness. The forlornness in the eyes of his protagonists or birds is indicative of something more than the usual that’s happening in and around the artist’s surroundings.
We know what that unusual factor is: life in the world outside. So, although his motifs have not changed, their expressiveness has increased. This is what makes his paintings worth viewing over and over again — to marvel at the efficacy of art and to reflect on the times we live in.
Originally published in Dawn, April 15th, 2020