Contemporary Miniature Painting in Pakistan: Bashir Ahmad and his Legacy

Table of Contents:
Introduction: Scope of the book
Miniature Painting at the Mayo School of Art/National College of Arts in Lahore 1945-1980
    Hereditary Court Painters, Mohammad Haji Sharif and Sheikh Shujaullah
Miniature Painting at the National College of Arts 1980-2011
    Traditional apprenticeship of Bashir Ahmad
    Transformation of miniature painting from traditional to contemporary
    Bashir Ahmad's miniature painting curriculum/syllabus at the National College of Arts
      Definition of terms in the curriculum
      Assignments Illustrated and explained
      Thesis painting expand the parameters
The Legacy: Diversity of style and subject in contemporary miniature painting
What constitutes a contemporary miniature painting? Is abstraction acceptable?
    How to make wasli (handmade paper)
    How to make a squirrel hair brush
After independence Indians and Pakistanis alike looked to Europe and America for artistic inspiration. Most believed abstract painting in oil on canvas, the face of modernism was superior to any traditional art. The British Raj had denigrated traditional miniature painting. It was a craft, not fine art they said: one learned by copying. That mindset endured in Pakistan until Bashir Ahmad evolved a contemporary genre of miniature painting using traditional techniques. Ahmad's eight years of Mughal Period style apprenticeship under the tutelage of two hereditary court painters came to fruition in 1983 when he created the first curriculum and syllabus for a degree program in miniature painting at the National College of Arts in Lahore, Pakistan. It is the only program of its kind anywhere, India included. This book traces Ahmad's apprenticeship and the evolution from traditional miniature style to contemporary. It examines his syllabus with illustrations of the assignments, how to make wasli (paper), squirrel hair brushes and how to draw and paint a miniature. It examines theses paintings of graduates to demonstrate the expansion of the genre and looks at the different styles and subject matter of graduates who have made this art form an international movement.

Bashir Ahmad Kangra Princess 1994
Bashir Ahmad Kangra Princess 1994

Bashir Ahmad Class at National College
Bashir Ahmad Class at National College of Arts, late 1990's

Bashir Ahmad: Mughal Faces 1990's

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