This is a collection of articles archived for the excellence of their content.
Readers will be able to edit existing articles and post new articles directly
In tune with nature
By Marjorie Husain
The well-known artist and social worker, Jimmy Engineer, recently returned from travels to the USA, Berlin and Dubai, where he showed a limited edition of prints and spoke on the cultural aspects of Pakistan. The first exhibition took place in Washington at the Pakistan Embassy on March 21. From there he flew to Berlin where his work was shown for a week, before returning to Washington for further exhibitions.
“I have started travelling a lot,” says Jimmy, “There is such a distorted view of the country abroad. It seems the foreign media focuses on negative issues without showing the rich cultural aspects of Pakistan. In Germany and America I spoke in universities and on the radio and answered numerous questions. The audiences appeared very interested and were very responsive.”
Known as a ‘social crusader’ and an artist recognised through national awards, Engineer has, since the early nineties, taken on himself to ‘make a difference’; walking for causes, raising awareness on social issues, and exhibiting his work here and abroad. When asked about his feelings on his dual identity, Engineer declares he is first and foremost a Pakistani who loves his country, and he would rather be known as a good Pakistani than a good artist.
His aim now is to travel as much as possible, work for causes and talk about Pakistan: its great history, culture and the current art scene. Through the years he has taken up countless causes. He has traversed Pakistan on foot, living in villages, sharing the lives and problems of people of the interior, and he has created a wide awareness of these problems in the country.
Through Engineer’s efforts, clinics and schools have been erected, and his work for Special children is well known. Above all he loves to take the children out for ‘fun’ and takes great pleasure in their enjoyment. ‘Everyone should have some joy in life’, is his philosophy.
He has been instrumental in arranging assistance in hospitals, children’s homes and the young offender’s jail, visits to prisons, hospitals and institutions are part of his routine. Though his parents and siblings are settled in the USA, Engineer has made it clear, he will never leave Pakistan.
Painting is Engineer’s great solace, a time of peace and quiet and few people have visited his studio, a cool, pristine setting without the clutter of furniture. There one discovers centuries old tiles and objects, paints and brushes neatly arranged and ready for work.
Some time ago I visited the studio and found four rooms, each one stacked with huge canvases; many as large as seven by five feet in height. Not surprising as he had trained as a muralist at the NCA and most of the work he has exhibited in the past has been on a grand scale. His work in the genre of landscape exudes an ambience of peace, nature and the lasting things of life. He has also painted beautiful, seascapes, still-life and portraits, which are carefully stored, but the work in process at that time was an extensive body of very large paintings with an architectural theme.
In the work he has detailed ancient seasoned brickwork, the decorative aspects of classic architecture, and myriad classic motifs and designs. In some of the paintings he has juxtaposed famous buildings from diverse countries and cultures as an allegory for ‘unity’; his personal message of peace and tolerance for all mankind. “My work is always positive, I do not believe in negative issues.” A follower of the Sufi philosophy, Engineer has painted multiple images of the Shah Rukn-e-Alam tomb in Multan, firmly believing that the rationalism of Sufism is rapidly spreading globally.
The final stage of his travels found him in Dubai. He spoke at length on the art activities in Dubai, where, he said, the local artists are promoted with respect. The plans for art underway appear very exciting, and he spoke of an exhibition of Picasso’s work shown in Abu Dhabi. “A lot is happening.” In May this year, Engineer’s limited edition of prints was shown at the Avari Hotel, creating considerable public and media response.
In exhibition, 65 artworks were displayed, out of which 30 carried an architectural theme, but the work was not for sale. “I just want people to visually enjoy my work, not to buy it.” Writer Enid Parker covered the exhibition for Khaleej Times, and Engineer told her: “I still consider my self to be a student.”
Jimmy Engineer is a man on the move, deriving energy as he says, “from nature,” and always on to the next appointment, wanting immediate results for his social work. This view point is in complete contrast to his art persona, where he has no thought of finishing the work in a hurry or pleasing a market. The world of art is Engineer’s retreat, and there he creates a world of his own where all is in harmony with nature.
Jimmy Engineer displayed an extensive body of very large paintings with an architectural theme