Sadquain (second from right) & M F Hussain (second from left)

Sadquain (second from right) & M F Hussain (second from left)

Sadquain (second from right) & M F Hussain (second from left)

Courtesy: Ziya H Rizvi, Dehli
(Mr Ziya is the son of Abbas Hussaini, the publisher of Ibne Safi’ novels in Allahabad)

On his 90th birth anniversary Sadequain the artist the fakir

My dear friend Haider Naqvi Founder of the Sadequain Memorial Trust whatsapp me am amazing photo where two great artistes of contemporary time M F Husain and Sadequain were caught in one frame. Both Husain and Sadequain had so much parallel as Husain had to face a tough and violent protest on his work and had to go in exile where he died also, Sadequain faced a huge demonstration on his exhibition in Lahore in 1976 where his entire work was bombed

Husain and Sadequain belonged to different school of art, Husain used forms with brush and Sadequain used line as he was a calligrapher per excellence

I met Sadequain saheb when I was a young reporter with the Patriot and he was holding his exhibition at Jamia Hamdard. In fact, he had come to India as a Roving Ambassador in 1981 initially for fourteen days but ended up staying for over fouteen month. Prime Minister Indira Gandhi gave him a carte blanche to stay as long as he wished and to work where ever he wants. During his fourteen month stay he left a large reservoir of work in India.

When I met the great legend Sadequain he had set up his work at the main auditorium where 99 names of Allah along with his other work was decorated all along the circular building. I sat with him for hours and shared the nuances of his work, his multi faceted personality, the sheer magic of his hand. In fact his exhibition with hundreds of his work each one different from other, displaying variety of colours and hues.

I found the legend an unassuming personality, sitting on a chair in the auditorium. But his work was speaking volumes, it was sheer magic, a frail man with intensity in his eyes has changed the total landscape of calligraphy. Script in Urdu till late was hand written on a transparent butter paper and that used to go for print. He brought calligraphy into a mainstream art form, and since then calligraphic art now dominates the art scene.

Sadequain also painted classical literature from the poetic verses of Ghalib, Iqbal and Faiz. He belonged to the school of thought which enriched realism with lyricism. His work was essentially linear Sadequain illustrated French Nobel Prize–winning writer Albert Camus, Ghalib, Iqbal, and Faiz He did thousands of drawings and gave them away to his admirers. He wrote and published hundreds of quartets.

Once he sold his 2 painting for just Rs 80000 and the buyer insisted he could pay more. Actually one of his staff whose daughter was getting married needed that money for her marriage and he sold his priceless work to help him He was a fakir

As I wrote earlier, I still recall an incident which the great artist shared with me of his young days about one of his friend MOHSIN who was madly in love with a girl by the name NISHOW. Knowing that he could translate his feeling into an art form his friend requested Sadequain to draw a design that could impress the young girl.

“ It took me just a minute. I wrote NISHOW and then drew a mirror image and it was MOHSIN and presented it to him You write it and see it in the mirror”” Later he laughed, “ Even with this brain storming image Nishow refused and later got married to someone else”.

But it gave Sadequain a new canvas to convert calligraphy into an art form and his journey in exploring and redefining the contour of calligraphy took a concrete shape and changed the world of traditional art .The body of work he left behind is amazing.

He was born in Amroha in Uttar Pradesh but later migrated to Pakistan.

My congratulations to Sadequain nephew Haider Naqvi for his pain staking work to keep the memory of the legend alive.

Salutation to Sadequain saheb as his work will always live on as art never dies nor it can be confined to narrow boundary of nations or religion. It belongs to all of us.

(Ziya H Rizvi)

Posted by Rashid Ashraf on 2020-06-30 09:52:00


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