Impressive Book Launching Ceremony
"Of Colour & Form"
The Art & Architecture of M. A. Ahed
The Eminent architect, Mohammad Abdul Ahed, known primarily for his architectural works in designing the General Post Office in Karachi, the State Bank Building in Islamabad among many others, was revealed as an artist on 12 February evening in a book titled "Of Colour and Form" which showcases water colour paintings, and sketches by the architect and artist.
The book, a project of the Foundation for Museum of Modern Art (FOMMA) and Sheba Akhtar, teacher of architecture at the Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture explored the little known side of the erstwhile architect. The book, launched at a ceremony at the Alliance Francaise, Karachi was well attended by the family and friends of M A Ahed along with a large contingent of Akhtar's students.
The illustrative book carries over 226 paintings which were simultaneously put on display. The works, many of which never made it out of private drawing rooms since Ahed never sold them, are a revelation in the least. The paintings, some of which date far back as 1939 (when Ahed would have been only 20 years old studying at the Sir J J College for Architecture, Bombay). The book showcases variety of subjects and a range of Ahed's skills as they matured over time.
Speaking on the occasion Muhammad Ahmad, the Vice President of FOMMA lauded the role of Alliance Francaise in hosting such an event. He went on to explain the exhaustive efforts of FOMMA in the revival, preservation and documentation of art in Pakistan.
Zulfiqar Lakhani, the Chairman of FOMMA thanked Ejaz Ahed, M A Ahed's son in endeavouring to collect the pieces of his father's work so as to have them documented and displayed. He also thanked, and congratulated Akhtar on her effort to successfully document an artist of Pakistan in depth.
Dr Mirza Jamil, one of the close friends of M A Ahed, having studied with him at college and then maintaining their friendship over half a century. He recalled memorable occasions spent in the company of Ahed, and the time Ahed spent with Dr Jamil's father discussing art and Sufism.
Sheba Akhtar, while claiming that the book was an exhilarating challenge for her, she described her efforts as a stepping stone for other writers who may wish to further explore the different sides of Ahed and hopefully come up with an even better and comprehensive book which would describe Ahed in totality. Analysing the art of Ahed, she said that as was Ahed's personality of brevity, as his works were his outlets within which he sought truth and authenticity.
The dutiful son, as he was described while being ushered on to the dais, Ejaz Ahed presented himself as a witness to the age old adage that "an artist lives on through his art". He said that Ahed was an artist and an architect bringing a renaissance before his time. The close relationship shared by Ejaz Ahed with his father allowed him to view a side of the architect which Ahed Sr. shielded even from his closest friends. The fact that apart from architecture and painting, M A Ahed was adept at the harmonium and wood carving all while having the availability of only a left arm. He further disclosed that despite his best efforts the works of M A Ahed in oil could not be recovered to display. Ejaz also raised the curtain on the reason why M A Ahed never took his art work in to the eye of the public storm in the quote "I paint for myself, by my self". This philosophy extended in M A Ahed's sentiments towards the ownership of his works when once two men expressed their true intent in purchasing his art "give my work to someone who loves art".
The Consul General of France, Pierre Seillan, who was the Guest of Honour on the evening said that French is the language of art and observing the work of M A Ahed (which Seillan spent an hour going through). The French words of 'Elegance', 'Finesse' among a few words which can be used for Ahed's paintings.
Before inaugurating the exhibition, Pierre said that the event was to celebrate a Pakistani artist and a humanist who could talk to the Governor and the fruit vendor with equal ease.