Hanif Shahzad's Rhythm of Kolachi

Friday, March 03, 2017 Heba Moeen 1 Comments

A walk through Karachi's history through Hanif Shahzad's perspective

A mural of Mohatta Palace painted by Hanif Shahzad
If you observe Karachi through the artist, Hanif Shahzad's perspective you will notice treasures in the form of pre-partition architecture prevalent in the British colonial era. Though in ruins now and often seen in dilapidated condition, quite some architectural wonders still exist today, such as the Frere Hall, the Edward House, Saint Patrick's Cathedral, Merewether Clock Tower, and the mighty Mohatta Palace to name a few.

This is what fascinates this brilliant artist in particular, considering he is a civil engineer as well. No wonder, engineering and art have fused together to make architecture his area of interest when it comes to painting that blank canvas into perfection! 

His recent exhibition housed several of his cityscapes where Shahzad captured and painted Karachi into a vibrant place where one would aspire to live. His Mohatta Palace mural is a piece of art that even the original owner, Shivratan Chandraratan Mohatta would have been proud of, had he existed at this point in time. Not many people know whom this palace originally belonged to and this is what artists like Hanif Shahzad teach generations through their work; the history and culture of a certain place they are part of. Aga Hussain Ahmed designed this palace and now Shahzad brought it back to life through his painting.

Similarly, his depiction of Frere Hall through a marvellous oil painting makes you revisit the era of 1865 when it was finally completed, only an artist and engineer like him can decipher the amount of hard work required from designing it to erecting this structure. Frere Hall was built in honour of Sir Henry Bartle Edward Frere (born March 29, 1815, Brecknockshire, Wales—died May 29, 1884, Wimbledon, Surrey, Eng.) who was the Chief Commissioner of Sindh from 1850 to 1859. An interesting fact about Frere Hall reveals that the architect, Lieutenant Colonel Clair Wilson was chosen to design it after considering the work of at least 12 other architects. This used to the level of perfection required in designing a structure that was to become part of the city. And now Shahzad's paintings seem to have done justice.

Saint Joseph's Cathedral is another outcome of sheer splendor that our Christian community has preserved over the years. Saddar happens to be one of Shahzad's favourite spots that he does justice to through his colourful palette and artistic demeanour unlike the municipality. The mid nineteeth century wonder is simply mesmerising to be part of and so is this painting:

Saint Joseph's Cathedral in Karachi
I really like the way he paints the Empress Market, thereby adding colourful hues to its surroundings. Constructed between 1884 and 1889, it was named in honour of Queen Victoria and designed by James Strachan. It belonged to a time when it was one of the seven markets of the city
Empress Market
A huge number of art enthusiasts had come to Artciti to be a part of the launch day which somehow restored faith in the fact that there still are art lovers among us who haven't excluded art from culture. Any society that starts ignoring Art and Literature embraces itself for a downfall something which we have to rescue ourselves from.

Below are some of the pictures of a few more paintings and that of the wonderful gathering of the day:

The artist discussing his work with a visitor
And I did some photography experimentation as well with one of my favourite paintings!

His paintings showcasing night and lights is something not everyone can master and is indeed a difficult outcome to achieve, yet he paints it all to perfection. Here's proof!

  To my delight, the artist gave me a signed copy of his invite! This made my day!

 Let's hope there is more to come from Hanif Shahzad's brilliant mind and magic fingers!

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