JAMIL NAQSH (1938-2019)
signed, dated and inscribed 'Jamil Naqsh 24th June 03 / Wigmore Street London' (on the reverse)
oil on canvas
30 x 40 in. (76.2 x 101.6 cm.)
Painted in 2003
Acquired directly from the artist by the present owner
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Lot Essay

Jamil Naqsh is one of Pakistan’s most celebrated figurative painters. Throughout his career, one of the themes he remained preoccupied with was the female form, depicted in his distinctive style. Naqsh studied at the Mayo School of Arts and Craft under the guidance of the modern miniaturist, Ustad Mohammad Sharif. “As Naqsh continued to produce work […] and earn critical acclaim, his style began to reflect a multiplicity of influences from art movements in Europe and America. He fused Cubist elements, pointillist techniques and the geometrical division of the ‘pictorial’ space with striking results.” (N. Askari, Jamil Naqsh: A Retrospective, Karachi, 2003, p. 13)

The artist's use of sharp lines and a muted monochrome palette is especially noteworthy in this painting. Here, he delicately manipulates his pigment in layers of impasto to create a remarkable surface texture that allows the figure to shimmer in and out of representation. The rendering of a reclining nude juxtaposed with a dove held closely to her face lends a melancholic and pensive mood to the painting, but also a sense of hope. The artist's female forms were often inspired by his companion and muse of 35 years, Najmi Sura, and the doves by the birds that used to fly through the windows of his ancestral home in Kairana, Uttar Pradesh. Writing about his work, Manjorie Husain noted, “his early training (as a miniaturist) enables him to ‘accept the necessity of monotony.’ He sits cross-legged for hours at a stretch, totally absorbed in producing canvases of such depth and vitality that the end effect is magnificent.” (M. Husain, Jamil Naqsh: A Retrospective, Karachi, 2003, p. 21)

After an artistic career that lasted for six decades, Jamil Naqsh passed away in May 2019. During his lifetime, he received many honors and awards in Pakistan including the prestigious Sitara-i-Imtiaz (Star of Excellence) in 2009, and the President’s Pride of Performance in 1989. His works have been widely exhibited, and form part of important collections all over the world.

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