Islamabad (Khyber Mail): Caretaker Federal Minister for National Heritage and Culture, Syed Jamal Shah, a renowned visual artist, has used the Murgha symbolically in most paintings to create an ambiance of lampooning, remorse, and mounting struggle. Shah believes that humanity’s salvation lies in making a positive contribution towards the well-being of the less fortunate.

Acclaimed Miniature Painting Ustad Bashir Ahmed inaugurated Shah’s set of works titled “Celebration of a Dehumanized Existence” at the Pakistan National Council of the Arts (PNCA). The collection, which bears universal interpretation transcending peace, positivity, and harmony, was praised for its profound symbolism and message.

Shah’s paintings and sculptures are about themes so inquisitorial, soul-searching, and heartbreaking that it seems almost trite to describe his subject matter. His work inserts itself into the viewer’s consciousness through the way he seems to fumble towards an understanding of how he should respond to the world he lives in.

The return to painting reaffirms Shah’s belief in the permanence and intellectual nature of the medium, the sense that the painted image necessitates a singular, uncompromising confrontation between the viewer and the object. He has been almost unique in reinventing the paradigm of socialist painting.

Consequently, his account of the imagery focuses attention on the notion that the combined images present a history of the working class – the dispossessed and the disenfranchised. Hence, the new body of paintings offers a memoir of the victory of British colonialism and reflects on the decline of working-class identity in confrontation with the right-wing programs.

It is clear that these paintings, titled “Celebration of a Dehumanized Existence,” on show at PNCA National Art Gallery, Islamabad, are a response to a particular set of historical circumstances. This helps explain both the polemics and the urgency of the imagery.

In the first instance, Shah has saturated the pictures with symbols, allusions, and questions. There are the recurring emblems of working-class struggle: the spade and the axe, the monkeys, and labor cast as a murgha – a stress position used as corporal punishment.

In his welcome remarks, M. Ayoub Jamali, Director General PNCA, expressed his deep honor in hosting the first solo exhibition of Mr. Jamal Shah at the National Art Gallery. He described the show as amazing and emphasized the importance of showcasing Shah’s work in a national space.

In his speech, Mr. Jamal Shah said, “As an artist, my work is a reflection of the society I live in. It is an attempt to engage in a dialogue with my fellow human beings, to explore and confront the contradictions and struggles that exist within our society. Through my paintings, sculptures, and ceramic pieces, I hope to initiate a dialogue that can engage people towards the best possible path for our society. I believe that art has a responsibility to serve humanity, to contribute to the betterment of society. Ultimately, the goal of any creative individual is to achieve a level of existence that can be called aesthetic, where truth prevails over deception, and where there is total transparency. My work is a reflection of this struggle, and I hope that it can serve as a catalyst for positive change.”

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