Mohsin S. Jaffri

Mohsin S. Jaffri

Jamil Naqsh, a master in his own right

Jamil Naqsh, a master in his own right, a unique artist when itcomes to drawing lines of magnificent movements, defining reality or distorting it, and applying colours of sophisticated nuance and introducing figures of artistic ecstasy. In Pakistan, he is highly admired, widely appreciated and held in specialveneration for the art he creates. He is accepted as a masterartist among his contemporaries. He stands tall, yet alone on apedestal.

In Karachi, his friends have established a Jamil Naqsh Museum which is visited by a large number of people, especially young artists and art students. There is also an art gallery, Momart,adjacent to the museum where the work of various artists isregularly exhibited. Most of the artists have a predetermined notion about theirwork, but the artist who leaves it all for the sheer pleasure and understanding of art lovers without categorizing his work intoany compartment takes precedence over others. Jamil has thisknack of letting his work be interpreted by the viewer’s art sense. There is more to Jamil Naqsh’s painting than many of his contemporaries because his mind and heart both come togetherto interpret his canvas. He converses with his skills where lines and colours mix in an environment of intellectual rendition to create a bond of communication with viewers.

Studying Pablo Picasso, one notices the extreme care of his draughtsmanship. He draws his lines as if a freeh and engineering has moulded and systematically distorted defining contours of figures and shapes with conviction and the philosophy of perfection. As he once famously remarked, “One has to know the line in order to break it.”It is in this realm that Jamil Naqsh creates his own genre; he gathers his thoughts, pours out his passion and lets his canvases absorb his conviction so convincingly that his lines when defining shapes creates a ‘reality’ of his own. Thus, when conviction and passion mingle, then and only then a master painter allows his canvases to communicate, and this is the hallmark of Jamil Naqsh, imposing a difference among artists where the real and the significant speak louder than any words of praise.

Jamil’s working environment is of immense concentration, he chooses his moods; he looks deeply at his canvas and then starts to create an artistic atmosphere in water colours or oil or graphite, where the lines have to be more distinguished and pronounced. In most of his paintings he shows a modern sensibility and also, at the same time, the discipline of a miniaturist. His emphasis on content, tonality and mood that he transfers on to his canvas has helped him to evolve his own signature. As an art student Jamil was never satisfied merely with whathe was taught. Following the principle that, “learning neverends” he craved for more and more in his intricate artistic environment. His insatiable thirst grew with every step of learning. He became obsessed with lines, drawing and ‘moving  lines’ that masters like Paul Klee and Pablo Picasso are known for. And this obsession imbued him with such skill that he too cantake his “line for a walk.”

The three images that have graced Jamil’s canvases tell a three dimensional story; peace and tranquillity, passion and desire, and sheer force. A pigeon, a classic form of woman and a powerful horse – completes the picture of asserts his knowledge of the world around him and the skill with which he deals with them. Jamil, in his own way, has paid tribute to many artists that include master miniaturist, Mohammad Sharif, sculptor Marino Marini, Pablo Picasso and others. This reflects his mature approach tothe work of artists who have helped, in one way or another, and have contributed to art, making it rich and innovative. Jamil is not a party-man; he enjoys poetry, classical music, dance and good books; he understands the painof parting and affairs of the heart; he finds solace in letting his canvases come to his rescue. He knows the art of meditation and concentration, and all these help him to evaluate life in all its facets. An artist’s best companion is his canvas. That’s where his perceptual energy takes shape and starts to wear colours full of meanings. But most important of all is finding a companionship where understanding, concern and comfort all come togetherto play their role. It is when Jamil Naqsh’s canvases want to take some rest and he is looking for meaningful relaxation thathe turns to Najmi Sura, more a friend, a companion and a life partner – providing all those comforts that are a must in human relationships.

Najmi Sura, a renowned artist herself, has the knack of balancing her role between work, relaxation and play, and in togetherness finding and providing emotional satisfaction, experiencing mental peace and thus reinvigorating the process of ‘back to canvases’ for Jamil Naqsh and herself. The confirmation comesfrom Najmi’s canvases when what she paints emerges as beautiful thoughts triggered by happy moments. Najmi paints in a styleof her own. Using a miniaturist’s technique, she constructs passionate figures and shapes, with the contours reflecting themagic of lines. Under the watchful eyes of Jamil, Najmi learnt todraw – a master’s guidance made all the difference.


The best of their relationship comes out whenever you join theircompany; Najmi Sura is loveable for all she stands for, and Jamil Naqsh knows that, and that’s what their relationship is all about.Van Gogh said, “In a picture I want to say something comforting as music is comforting,” and Matisse says, “What I dream of is an art of balance of purity and serenity devoid of troubling or depressing subject matter, an art which might be for every mental worker, be he a businessman or a writer, like an appeasing influence, like a mental soother, something like a good arm chairin which to rest from physical fatigue.”In the initial analysis, in my opinion, Jamil Naqsh as a person,as an artist, as a lover and as a human being, if asked to say something about himself and his art, would say, “My art is love’secstasy, exposing emotions and passions for beautiful minds tofeed upon”. And about himself he would say; “I am a man and what I give lovers of my works is the understanding of a worldhidden within our selves.” Thus, Jamil’s paintings should be looked at in relation to our own period and with the brand-newsensibility of today – and we will see that his work has no time -limit.


Mohsin Jaffri is a journalist, an art critic, a poet, a writer and anartist of distinction. He left for the United Kingdom in 1960 and returned to Pakistan in 1990. Mohsin Jaffri has authored three books, one on social issues: The Other Half: Discrimination Against Women, and Time and Love (a collection of English poems) and Sang-e-Geran Aur (acollection of Urdu poems). His fourth book, on Pakistani Art, is nearing completion.