Jamil Naqsh was born in 1938 in Kairana in Uttar Pradesh, India, but moved to Karachi in Pakistan following the partition of the subcontinent in 1947. In 1953, he enrolled at the National College Art (then Mayo College) in Lahore, but did not complete his education there, leaving after two years to study art on his own.
Naqsh, an independent spirit, found he had to discover a visual idiom for himself that could not be bound by any academic dictates, for he believed that experience and not qualification was important to be an artist. Thus, he began his self-education by undergoing rigorous training in various styles of miniature painting under the watchful eye of Ustad Mohammad Sharif to understand the aesthetics and principles of art. Though his style of painting does not directly reflect these miniature traditions, their emphasis on the dominance of line became an integral in his work regardless of the style or subject.
Naqsh’s mature style is a blend of cubism – in the way he treats form and texture – tempered with fluidity and a subtle use of colour. Naqsh has painted the female form in many of his canvases replete with poise and grace. In another series of paintings he pairs pigeons and doves with the female form, symbolic of love, peace and gentleness. One more series of works, inspired by the Italian sculptor Mario Marini, who captured the beauty of the horse in his work, combines the elegance of the nude female with the sturdy grace of the equine figure.
Naqsh’s work has been exhibited extensively in Pakistan, India, the UK and the UAE. Between 1960 and 68 he served as Co-Editor of Seep, an Urdu literary magazine, and between 1970 and 73 as President of the Pakistan Painters Guild. Among the artist’s many honours are medals and awards from the Pakistan Art Council, Karachi; the Ministry of Culture, Pakistan; and the Arts Council of Pakistan. In 2009, Naqsh was awarded the Sitara-e Imtiaz by the Government of Pakistan, and in 2003, a retrospective of his work was held at the Mohatta Palace Museum in Karachi, a rare honour for a living artist.
Naqsh lives and works in London, and is considered the only living modern artist from Pakistan.
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