Personified painter

Holding the voluminous book on Jimmy Engineer, I wondered for a while the depth in his personality. The legendary artist doesn’t need any special introduction. There are very few people on 
Pakistan’s social mosaic who are distinguished for their work and contribution, and certainly this veteran artist and social activist is one of them.

By Ishtiaq Ali Mehkri

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Published: Fri 27 Apr 2012, 9:12 PM

Last updated: Fri 3 Apr 2015, 12:34 AM

His uniqueness is that he has campaigned and championed for causes that others would hardly bother to even look at. Be it a walk in the sweltering heat for awareness or carrying the Indian flag across the length and breath of Pakistan advocating peace, he is candid, selfless and innovative.

The book by Marjorie Hussain, a reputed art critic, In Search of My Master on Jimmy Engineer is worth reading. It articulately details the life and person of the artist, in a first person narrative, and keeps the reader glued till the last word. Similarly, samples of his art, paintings and miniature designs in the billowing book is like an art gallery at hand, and a museum of sorts to be preserved on one’s personal shelf. The book, an autobiography in essence, is a comprehensive attempt to understand the artist and his crusades, especially of a person who never believed in caste, creed or religion, and is obsessed with the cause for humanity.

In his active professional life since 1976, he has impressive credentials to boast: more than 2,000 original artworks; 1,000 calligraphies; and over 200,000 paintings of his works are in private collections in more than 50 countries. Moreover, he has always been the ‘man of action’ when it comes to championing a cause: hundreds of walks spanning thousands of miles and numerous campaigns with the sole motto of personalisation.

Honoured and recognised by a host of foreign governments, Engineer’s paintings on partition depict the pain and misery that he could feel for the people of his subcontinent. The fact that he didn’t come to witness the saga but has painted it marvellously and in real-life essence speaks high of the mind of a genius and a kind heart. That is not an end in itself, the hope, despair, frustration, anger, misery, fear and innocence that he painted while depicting the Freedom Movement, and likewise the mosaic of cultural interdependence while portraying monuments, buildings and icons of history are too telling to be viewed than commented on in words.

Though his art and paintings rest solely in history, he is an indispensable contemporary. His colours and drawings hint of an evolution under the belt, whereas they are revolutionary in spirit. The book is a must-read to know him and his works at ease.

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