Basharat Bashir

Abdul Rahim Nagori: Artist and Artwork

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A pioneer of socio-political painting and a fearless artist of Pakistan Abdul Rahim Nagori was born in 1939. He did his masters in fine art from the Punjab University in 1965. Nagori was a scholastic man, with amazing command in eastern history and philosophy. He employed symbols of ancient myths and legends to express his anger and protest against the injustice and cruelty the world was witnessing. He dedicated his work to oppressed giving them a means to rise against the oppressor. Through his artwork Nagori raised serious socio-political issues including the suppression of women, which he saw as a universal issue often neglected.

Nagori taught at the University of Sindh in Jamshoro, Pakistan where he founded and headed the department of Fine Arts. He was one of the few artists of his time who courageously portrayed the real suffering of common people in the hands implacable power. In 1982 his exhibition titled ‘Anti-militarism and violence’ got censored and banned by the martial law regime. And in 1983 he came up with Anti martial law exhibition, which was sponsored by Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists. His Anti-dictatorship Exhibition held at Indus Gallery, Karachi in 1986 was the powerful exhibition of his career where he exposed 62 different awful national events which shook the conscience of the nation.

Nagoris paintings are vibrant with dramatic use of symbolic colors along with juxtaposing horizontal and vertical lines. His work is a representation of how sure he was about each and every stroke, he was well aware of every line and its implication. Nagori is regarded as the most respected socio-political painter of Pakistan who remained true to his convictions. He was honoured with President’s Pride of Performance Award announced on 14 August 2010.

Since 1958 Nagori held many exhibitions across the country, here is a list of his exhibitions:

1982: Anti-militarism and violence exhibition which got censored and banned by the martial law regime.

1983: Anti martial law exhibition, sponsored by Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ).

1986: Anti-dictatorship Exhibition held at Indus Gallery, Karachi.

1988: Anti-dictatorship Exhibition, “Road to Democracy”, held at Indus Gallery, Karachi, Pakistan. Reviewed by Mark Fineman of the Los Angeles Times. Painted the evils of society by evolving new alphabet symbols for children, basing them on the events which took place in preceding two years. Bomb blasts, crime, dacoities, guns, heroin, Ojhri, Kalashnikov, rape etc. became new symbols of the alphabet.

1990: “I am you” Anti-violence exhibition, large hoarding for display on road side, sponsored by Deutsche Bank, participated by International Artists.

1990: “Women of Myth and Reality” exhibition at Indus Gallery, Karachi. Repudiated the treatment meted out to the women.

1992: Exhibition on minority, held at Chawkhandi Art Gallery, Karachi.

1994: Exhibition “Black amongst Blacks” held at Lahore Art Gallery, Lahore.

2004: Exhibition “Return to Sphinx” held at V.M. Art Gallery, Karachi.

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