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The associate professor at the National College of Arts, the Lahore-based artist is a name to reckon with on the current art scene of Pakistan. He uses Christian, Hindu and Buddhist iconography, has an unusual capacity to grasp unfamiliar imagery to serve his own ends. He has shown his work widely in Pakistan and has participated in group shows in the US, Australia, Egypt, Jordan and India.
Commenting on his entries to the Art Dubai fair, he says: “There are two paintings of mine in this show... the bigger canvas is called Soul of the Man diving back into his body (5ft x 9ft, acrylics on canvas). A simplified figure in cobalt blue as soul, is about to enter the body. To me it suggests some kind of a reunion or an acceptance of an important part of the Self.
“The second painting is called Toys are us (5ft x 5ft, acrylics on canvas). The figure on the right is holding two torsos... in fact he is putting them in a cupboard... torsos are hollow and in a thin material... it is about collected memories as useful toys.”
“Anwar Saeed, one of our most reclusive artists, delves into his layered persona to construct complex narratives, magical and compelling. Multiple readings are possible in viewing these works, which retain their secrecy — rather like the artist himself.”
The artist’s statement follows:
“The human body, as a major point of interest/concern in my work, appears to emphasise different aspects of existence... showing its relation with whoever lives in it (the inner-self or the soul, may be) but also with the outer realities like social values, religion and all forms of extremism. So, on the one hand the work tries to show the complexities of the body and soul relationship and on the other, it is about the conflict between the physical needs/desires and the boundaries imposed by extremist thought in society... both aspects are strongly linked to each other.”
Soul of the man diving back into his body (top); Toys are us (bottom), acrylic & charcoal;