Stories about artist

Raja Changez Sultan: the sage artist behind the canvas

When I sat down with Raja Changez Sultan to talk about his journey as an artist and a poet, I was already in awe of him. I had been following his work, both poetry and painting, for many years. Seven years of my life were spent sitting under a beautiful large azure green and vivid blue canvas from his Himalayan Odyssey series. The beautiful canvas that hung on the wall of the international donor agency where I worked at that time was a welcome relief in that drab, grey, reticent building. “It has been wonderful for me. You live ...

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Puff out your chests with pride, because these 7 Pakistanis have made us real proud

The year 2018 brought with it ‘Naya Pakistan’, or at least the promise of it, that many Pakistanis had been anxiously waiting for. Now that the year is ending, several changes have taken place; some good, some bad and some plain hilarious. By hilarious I mean things such as the chicken egg business model theory of Kaptaan himself, the ‘speed of light’ trains he was so impressed by and the buffalo auctions. As this year ends, there is still gas and energy shortage in the country, there is still rampant injustice, the political discourse has become childish and the financial ...

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Jehangir Aziz Hayat and the Pashtun rock scene, finally uncovered!

A few of the bands that I grew up listening to were U2, Nirvana, Matchbox Twenty and Lifehouse, among others. The genres of these bands included rock, alternative rock, post-grunge and elements of metal in their songs. I remember attending rock fests that were held in Lahore during 2002 and 2003. They featured some rocking underground bands that were quite awesome, to say the least. Bands like EP, Aaroh and Call are some that I recall playing live at these fests, before they achieved mainstream success in Pakistan. However, almost all the songs sung by the bands that went on to receiving ...

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The dilemma of an artist: But who am ‘I’?

Who am I? The wearer of characters, The bearer of their pains. My lips vibrate, my eyes rain, My heart burns in their agony. Applause.   But who are they? Fragments of a writer’s imagination? Words scattered on a script? I give them life, Their anguish is my torment, Their gloom is my melancholy They are my mates or are they not? Bit by bit consuming my soul Then who am I, mere mould in a statue shop? Applause.   Ah that applause! I live for it but what is it? An echo of emptiness That will haunt me till my grave. Oh my life but what a life! My characters are my shadow, My muse, my madness, my mourn My characters are half ...

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German glue, pinching ears and music — Zoe Viccaji’s favourite things

You may not know this about her, but Zoe Viccaji loves to put German glue on her hands and peel it off; she also loves to pinch ears, but her greatest love remains music. At the age of 15, when most of her teenage friends had the high-school blues, Zoe wrote songs for her friends and performed at open mic sessions as a hobby. She joined the college choir and majored in Arts and Sociology; even turned towards advertising for two years post-college, only to return to her first love – music. Born in Kharian to a Parsi father and a ...

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Lusting for heroin, living in excess

My friends always did seem to be perpetually waiting for something.  They wanted an explosion of culture and expression and art to suddenly rip open their city, something that they could be a part of. The explosion never came and they got tired of waiting. The paradigm shifted from making music, writing poetry and actually being productive to watching Basketball Diaries and Trainspotting, listening to Alice in Chains and Stone Temple Pilots. “They did heroin you know?” “We should do heroin.’’ “Why?” ‘’Because. What else can we do?’’ I saw it happen, this whole fascination with Americana and the people who made it – for ...

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Noori: Once upon a light

It was the gloomy winter of 2005. My interest in philosophy and arts was growing. As a reaction of my rebellious nature and artistic romanticism, I had moved out of my house and started living in a small room in old Lahore. My mornings were dedicated to riaz (practice) of classical music and I either painted or read the whole day. Exactly like some typical ‘crazy artist’ character portrayed by Dostoevsky. One day while playing the harmonium, I saw a little girl who was peeping inside from the old, wooden window. Upon realizing that I had noticed her, she smiled shyly and ran ...

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Aalmi Mushaira 2011: Just another oldies affair?

In a candid interview with Pakistan and Gulf Economist in 2002, Azhar Abbas Hashmi claimed that the tradition of the Aalmi Mushaira in Karachi started as a means of improving the city’s image of genocide and lawlessness. Over the years, people of different nationalities, religions and political persuasions connect on an intellectual level and obtain what composite dialogue can never wholly impart: a feeling of unimpeded unity. The Aalmi Mushaira 2011 commenced with similar expectations at the Karachi Expo Centre under the auspices of the Sakinan-e-Shehar Quaid Karachi. The event was held against the backdrop of political tension and violence. And yet, ...

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The silent painter: Shakir Ali

To Lahoris today the building across the street from the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan is a familiar sight. When it was first built, however, the passers by tended to stop and wonder what the structure was meant to be. The outer walls had over-burnt bricks laid apparently by poor craftsmen. Those who ventured inside were further amazed that a home could be so different. But then so was the man who built it for his residence. The place was Shakir Ali’s home. Earlier, he had treated the National College of Arts as his home and been content amidst its students ...

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Singing through patriarchy with a bit of desi jazz

So, three years too late I have discovered Zeb and Haniya. I discovered them thanks to a friend’s enthusiasm for ‘waii waii’, a term used in their Coke Studio rendition of Paimona Bitte. The ‘waii waii’ women have brought a ‘girls just wanna have fun’ element into Pakistani music. While Paimona was the song that got me hooked, it is their song Chup (Hush) that makes me smile whenever I listen to it. It was different. Pakistani and Indian love songs are usually all about the sacrificing, shy, scared and most importantly, submissive female. Sure, there was Nazia Hassan’s Aap jaisa koi (Someone like ...

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