Eqbal Mehdi (1946 - 2008)
Oil on Jute
23 x 32 in.
Born in Amroha, India into a family of writers, poets and filmmakers, and moving to Pakistan in his teenage years, Eqbal Mehdi grew up in a family that was intensely deep rooted in art. Mehdi was a self-taught artist and painted realist portraits and scenes of various subjects often drawn from the life of the lower classes, which he elevated to stunning levels of beauty and emotional complexity through his mastery of light, and the heightened sentiments it could be used to invoke. In the Untitled work on view, a father sits tenderly with his daughter, both bathed in transcendent light. While the young girl stares inquisitively straight ahead at the viewer, the father gazes solemnly towards the light while his hands protectively embrace his daughter. In this sense, the work can be read as a generational allegory, with the young child focused questioningly on the reality at hand, while her elder looks somberly and longingly towards the light, perhaps representing his hopes for a future he will likely not experience himself. The scene is an incredibly poignant masterwork by Mehdi in which he’s created a remarkable narrative magic through his handling of light, shadow and subject.
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