Shahzad Zar is perhaps the last young artist to have been guided by that man of the arts, s. Ali imam. When the artist first approached imam he was in his teens, a self-taught young man struggling to teach himself. The art of collage, mixing organic materials and paint. Imam was interested in Shazad’s work and in his determination to be an artist. He sent him away with advice and suggestions and monitored his progress from then on. Four years later imam felt the artist was ready for an exhibition at the prestigious indus gallery and Shahzad Zar was launched with a solo exhibition in 1999.
How did you get interested in art?
I am a self taught artist, started my work with the inner inspiration & learned to express myself through paint & calligraphy on natural preserved leaves under supervision of Asian legend, Ali Imam, founder of Indus Gallery, Karachi, Pakistan.
What kinds of art you do?
I started my work using preserved leaves to paint my colors for calligraphic work, now I am tuned into oriental figurative thematic paintings using different mediums, including pastels, paints, collage and so on.
What and who inspired you to start?
Ali Imam, gave me an Artistic eye to see & a realization to express myself. I have worked with leading artists in Pakistan with shows in almost all leading art galleries & venues in Pakistan & abroad.
What problems did you face to achieve your career?
I think there is a dire need to promote young upcoming artists, as a new artist in the field, I have faced problems that most of the time, discourage young artist, and to confront with those problems, I myself created a Youth Art Circle, known as Zer's Youth Art Circle @ ZAC studio, which promoted many youngsters who are now well known in art community in Pakistan.
What are results of your achievements?
As I mentioned earlier, I have struggled for myself and other young artists, now I am known for the artist who use to work with leaves and young talent.
What are your plans for the future?
Live my life as an art promotor.
2011 JI’S ART GALLERY, KARACHI
2008 ZENANI ART GALLERY
2007 CLIFTON ART GALLERY, KARACHI.
2005 CLIFTON ART GALLERY, KARACHI.
2003 JI’S ART GALLERY, KARACHI.
2001 INDUS GALLERY , KARACHI
2000 NOMAD ART GALLERY, ISLAMABAD
1999 INDUS GALLERY, KARACHI.
TWO MAN SHOW
2002 NOMAD ART GALLERY, ISLAMABAD
PRIVATELY DISPLAYED WORK
2004 DISPLAYED WORK 3’.0 X 6’.0 (DUBAI)
2003 NAME OF ALLAH (6’.0 X 16’.0)
1999 FAISAL BANK, KARACHI.
2006 MOMART GALLERY , KARACHI
2006 KUNJ ART GALLERY, KARACHI
2006 THE ART GALLERY , KARACHI
2005 ALLIANCE FRANCAISE, KARACHI
2005 LOUVERS ART GALLERY, KARACHI
2004 BAHRAIN ART CENTRE,(BAHRAIN)
2004 ISLAMIC CULTURE CENTRE (LONDON)
2004 CLIFTON ART GALLERY, KARACHI
2004 UNICORN ART GALLERY , KARACHI
2004 INT’R NATIONAL GALLIGRAPHY EXHIBITION AL-HAMRA, LAHORE
2003 JI’S ART GALLERY , KARACHI
2003 8TH NATIONAL EXHIBITION OF VISUAL ART , ISLAMABAD
2002 ROSHNI P.A.C.C. , KARACHI
2002 JAHANZAIB ART GALLERY , KARACHI.
2002 MOMART GALLERY , KARACHI
2001 NATIONAL MUSEUM , KARACHI.
2001 NOMAD ART GALLERY , ISLAMABAD
2000 5TH NATIONAL EXHIBITION , ISLAMABAD
2000 THE ART GALLERY , ISLAMABAD
1999 ART COUNCIL , KARACHI
MY WORK IS .....
Mixed Media on Paper
Pakistan Art - Nigaah Report
Symbolic Creations by Shahzad Zar at JI Art Gallery
Symbols are a part of our everyday interactions. Sociologists specialize in the study and analyses of symbols in society, politicians intelligently exploit symbols for power-gains, marketers try to employ symbols to advance a given product or brand, and the ‘icon’ is how the technology-savvy among us refer to the symbols used on the Internet and in gadgets. No rite of passage, no ceremony, no activity, nor does any day pass where humans do not interact or utilize symbols.
The wedding ceremony is one such important rite of passage in the Subcontinent and it is one that is loaded with symbols. Painter Shahzad Zar recently held a show at JI Gallery, in Karachi , titled Symbolic Creations, which showed his recent body of work that celebrates those very wedding festivities and the symbols that are employed throughout the ceremonies.
Weddings in the Subcontinent are and always were huge productions. “Since the time of the Mughals to now, the wedding is the time to rejoice, to enjoy henna, music, sweets, and finery,” explains the artist, who is still a bachelor, which perhaps explains his fascination with weddings. Shahzad’s mentioning of the Mughals at the exhibition resonated immediately, as it became apparent that the painter’s style and motifs were derived from the Miniature tradition. Elaborate borders and backgrounds composed of vegetal and geometric designs, along with brides being the central focus are what give these pieces the likeness to Miniatures. The elephants are a reoccurring motif in Shahzad’s paintings, because the elephant “…is not just a part of the Subcontinent and its history, but it was a symbol of wealth and status. You can say that the elephant of before, is like the 4-wheeler of today”.
During last decade’s ‘time of plenty’, the wedding became more of a time when families of both the bride and groom seemed to compete to out-spend, out-party, and out-dress one another. Symbols of wealth and status took on new precedence and unbelievable frequency, bringing industries related to weddings immeasurable wealth, and bringing families more worries and burdens.
However, Shahzad’s paintings showed the happier and colorful side of a wedding. These paintings are actually mixed media, with “…gold leaf, silver leaf, pen, pencil, acrylic paint, oil paint, and collage techniques are all employed.” The intricate backgrounds and borders were inspired by the henna that brides and women close to both the bride and groom apply to their hands and feet. And some of those backgrounds were actual remnants of wall paper- perhaps symbolic of the redecorating that occurs at the homes of the bride and the groom, ahead of a wedding.
Like the Mughal Miniature, the female form takes center stage, with the bride being the subject of many of these pieces. “I focus on the Eastern bride this time. Notice the clothing and the jewelry”, explains Shahzad. Despite the finery and the details with which the brides are shown, they lack facial features- making the figures perhaps more universal- that any girl can imagine herself as the bride shown. One painting that stands out shows the bride perhaps at her Mehndi/Sangeet ceremony, dressed in the traditional colors of yellow green and shows the henna painted on her palms in the traditional manner. One would think the actual wedding and giving away of the bride are the climactic points of a marriage celebration in Pakistan , but instead it is the Mehndi ceremony, a ceremony with the most number of traditions, rituals, and the most participatory for friends and family members. It is also the most abundant with symbols.
Often this is the ceremony when the elders from the two families exchange gifts for the bride and groom, with great pomp and circumstance, hoping to not only make one another happy, but to show one another the fine taste, the wealth, and the large hearts that they possess. As for the younger generation, this ceremony is party-like, with food, music, and many other young people to mingle with, perhaps giving rise to another wedding in the future.
Symbolic Creations was a body of work that celebrated more than just the festive rite of passage of marriage. In itself, the show was a marriage between the Mughal Miniature and contemporary art.