Mian Ijaz Ul Hassan
Ijaz ul Hassan studied at Atchison College and later read English for his Master’s Degree at Government College Lahore and St. John’s College, Cambridge. He studied painting at Fine Arts Department, Punjab University and St. Martin’s School of Art, London. Ijaz is recipient of the President’s Award for Pride of Performance, the highest national award in the field of art.
Ijaz ul Hassan is one of Pakistan’s outstanding artists and a leader of a group of painters who identify themselves with their surroundings. His work of the seventies established a new trend in Pakistan Paintings. In the early period, he employed popular images clipped from print media, posters and cinema hoardings. Later, these were used to express larger social concerns. Ijaz not merely painted, but lived the times for which he was on several occasions apprehended and incarcerated. Many of the works of the period were censored and removed from exhibitions. Canvas Gallery Karachi recently held a retrospective show declassifying some of the works that have remained concealed from public view.
In 1977 during Gen. Zia ul Haq's Martial Law, Ijaz ul Hassan was one of the first activists to be arrested and put in solitary confinement at the infamous Lahore Fort. During this period, when every form of dissent was crushed, Ijaz tried to have his thoughts and feelings known to the viewers with images and symbols; many derived from nature.
One of the images established was that of a window through which you look from lonely confinement to sunny prospects. This image he evolved peering through the bars of his cell in which he was incarcerated at ‘Naukhar’. He also launched a series of paintings based on a vine girdling a tree. The entwining vine conveyed the feeling of togetherness and fulfillment. In a different vein, his paintings flaunting lilies and other natural elements express manifold ideas and feelings ranging from pain to joy, according to his speculative frame of mind at the given time.
ul hassan takes special care to seek out trees that have matured and acquired
striking individual identities. Most of these images symbolize human struggle
and growth. He also takes pain to record the phenomenon of life and death;
things coming into being and others perishing into oblivion; somber prospects
being suddenly invaded by sun shine, silhouetted leaves ignited and dark
lilies set ablaze by stray rays of light; a Laburnum transforming from
a spectre of death in winter to miracle of life. Ijaz is thrilled to draw
strength from the regenerating force of nature – where an axe falls
on a limb, several shoots must grow next season. His work does not aspire
to explain the meaning of life but strengthens mans resolve to live it.
Ijaz has had seven solo exhibitions, many group shows and in the course
of almost five decades has produced extensive body of work including large
murals for public spaces.
His work can be viewed at ijazulhassan.com.pk