Authored by Ahsan Raza, published in Dawn on February 22, 2015
A session on a book of essays titled ‘What You See is What You See’ written on the late artist Imran Mir was held on Saturday, day two of the third edition of the Lahore Literary Festival. The session was moderated by Quddus Mirza with Nighat Mir, Noorjehan Bilgrami and Hameed Haroon as panelists.
A pictorial multimedia presentation by artist Nighat Mir opened the session where snapshots from Imran Mir’s personal and professional life were presented.
Nighat Mir also shared the life story of Imran Mir, his studies in the USSR and the US and his achievements while studying in America. She said that in his early career, Imran Mir was influenced by Ahmed Pervez. He would painstakingly put in every detail in his paintings.
Noorjehan Bilgrami spoke on the art and life of Imran and his relation with other artists. She said Imran Mir was a reserved person with a few close friends, of them celebrated artist Zahoorul Akhlaque.
Though his work was cheered and applauded for its philosophical depth, Imran Mir would love to work in silence and live a solitary life, she said.
Hameed Haroon said Imran Mir’s life was a creative journey but his work was not easily accessible in terms of it being displayed in art galleries. Art and communication had not been completely worked out in Pakistan which kept the art works unexplored. Pakistani art had to reach and share international arena with other artists but before that we also needed to realise that how little we knew about Lahore art in Karachi and the same was generally true about Karachi art in Lahore. There was no dialogue between those interested in art in the two cities.
Besides dialogue, Haroon continued, a lack of understanding of art was a big issue. There was no systemic mechanism of exchange and bilateral relationships between artists. Bilateral relations did exist on personal level but there were no institutional relations between Karachi and Lahore.
Other than exchange and a broad understanding of art, he said archiving and cataloguing of art works was a serious task which had yet to be undertaken in the case of so many artists. He said the book – ‘What you See is What You See’ – compiled by Nafisa Rizvi and Durriya Kazi was an accomplishment of what needed to be done.
Coming to Imran Mir’s works, Haroon said “What You See in Imran Mir’s work is the working out of formal discourse of line and colour on philosophy”.
Quddus Mirza said as there was a lack of space to accommodate and display piles of art work, books were a substitute to take an artists’ work to the public. He said Imran Mir chose not to paint fashionable or figurative work and he stuck to the true spirit of art.
Published in Dawn, February 22nd, 2015