To commemorate the exhibition of his calligraphy series held at LUMS earlier this year, Shah Abdullah Alamee has donated his artwork “Sâh Kandan” to the Gurmani Centre for Languages and Literature. The ink on canvas piece was one of nine paintings showcased at LUMS during the calligraphy exhibition titled Man Pardêsî Jai Thee-ai (If the Self Suffers Exile). The exhibit was curated by Dr. Nadhra Shahbaz Khan, Associate Professor, History of Art, School of Humanities and Social Sciences, LUMS, and remained on display from February till May 2020. Expressing her gratitude for Alamee’s gift to the campus, Dr. Khan said, “This beautiful gift will not only keep the memory of Shah Abdullah’s fantastic exhibition fresh in our minds, but will also be a source of inspiration for everyone who views it for all times to come.”
The piece, titled “Sâh Kandan”—or “On the Threshold of Death”—is a calligraphic rendering of verses from a poem by the renowned Baloch poet Aṭâ Shâd (1939-1997). Alamee has used the traditional Persian technique of siyâh mashq to depict the words and sentiments of Shâd’s poem on an 83 by 73 inch canvas. The deep red smears and gradients of grey that make up this composition give a striking visual representation to the anguish and torment contained in the following verses:
My footprints will remain here forever
Forever, will glow the lamp that my blood set agleam
I am dead, die you, as well
You are alive; alive I am as well
(Translated from Balochi by Fazal Baloch)
The collaboration of poetry and visual art embodied by this artwork is representative of the spirit that informed Man Pardêsî Jai Thee-ai as a whole. Each calligraphic work made for the exhibition was inspired by poetic verses in a range of languages—including Pashto, Persian, Punjabi, Sindhi, and Urdu. The process of selecting these verses was also a collaborative effort between Shah Abdullah Alamee and Dr. Fatima Fayyaz, Visiting Assistant Professor, Persian, at LUMS. The exhibit was hence a product of a deep synergy between the humanist expertise of the University, and the visual arts. The Gurmani Centre of Languages and Literature hopes that the presence of this piece on campus will serve as a reminder of the creative possibilities offered by cross-disciplinary collaboration. The Centre is immensely grateful to Shah Abdullah Alamee for this valuable and vibrant addition to the LUMS campus.
A highlights video of the opening of Alamee's exhibition, held on February 10, 2020, can be found here.
You can also click here for a detailed report on the event.