9th National Paintings Exhibition, NAG.


After thirteen years, the National Exhibition took place at National Art Gallery, at PNCA, Islamabad. It was an evening of the fulfillment of dreams of so many artists in Pakistan. Somehow, National Exhibition has its own aura. There was a time I remember, when one just took it for granted. Conceived in 1973 by the great poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz, the event was a regular one, if not an annual one. All the gurus of art in Pakistan participated in it from the seashores of the Arabian Sea to the foothills of the mighty Himalayas.

Yesterday, as I walked around the many halls of National Art Gallery, it was packed with paintings, artists and art lovers. It felt as if my heart was getting filled with joy and euphoric bursts of happiness. Even if a painting depicted pain, one felt good that the artist’s feelings were respected. When an artist’s work was the result of complete thought pattern which is ‘out side the box’ it felt great. Here is a nook and corner (literally speaking) where your thoughts, and feelings are given a space with honor.

There is a space for all. The vibrant colors are placed next to works where there are literally no color. There were paintings with realistic intonations and there were those which were completely abstract. Sculptures in different materials, graphics, miniatures, oils, acrylics, stone, water colors and even virtual. Here you witness a heritage of art spanning five thousand years.

It is not humanly possible to capture the works of 500 artists in one article. Here is just a random walk through this amazing exhibition which took place yesterday.

The best part of it all was the opening ceremony with just two speakers Jamal Shah who spoke with great zeal about the event and its history.



25591792_1779416848758266_7441955920267058340_nThe chief guest Mariam Aurangzeb spoke with a candid and informed manner which was pleasant. The length of speeches were just right.



I love seeing my great mentors’ work displayed at all exhibitions specially the National Art Gallery. The works of Mansoor Rahi and Hajra Mansoor. Both have donated eight paintings for the permanent collection of this prestigious Gallery. Saeed Akhtar is one of the greatest portrait painters in Pakistan. He has devoted his life to painting the Quaid-e-Azam’s portraits. Besides these, his works of abstracts and other portraits are also amazing. It was a pleasure meeting him yesterday after seventeen years. I had met him last when he had come to my solo exhibition of paintings at Alhamra Arts Councils, Lahore, in 2001. Earlier I had written two articles on him, one published in The News, and one in Dawn. I also had attended classes at his studio in 1996. He has his own manner of speaking in Punjabi and with great humor. Felt so wonderful seeing him… 🙂

It was a moment of great pride and joy for me to have my work displayed along with such great stalwarts of art in Pakistan. I’ve had this privilege several times in my life.

The multimedia presentation could have been much better. The sound system of the national anthem too could have been improved, being in the PNCA. -The place of good sounds and arts! However, it was an evening to remember.


work by Riffat Alvi, the feeling when you touch the Kaaba…



I certainly plan to go there alone several times, to absorb the works on my own. It is a very private thing, the viewing of an exhibition. It is nice to go with friends, yet it can be even nicer without anyone but your own self, and then you try to understand the thoughts of the artists’. Even if you don’t know the answers, sometimes the questions themselves are enough for the time being. The art work deserves all your attention. This is the work displayed, where each piece of art is a depiction of the struggles and perceptions of the life of the artist so far. The creativity is evident in each work, and it is awesome to witness.

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  1. Kiran Naghman says:

    Beautiful review of this prestigious exhibition

  2. Kiran Naghman says:

    Beautiful review of this prestigious exhibition

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