Leading art gallery of Pakistan, Unicorn Gallery was Founded by art critic Seemah Niaz. Unicorn specialises in the history of Pakistani and Indian painting and has presented works by some of the most distinguished South Asian painters including Ustad Allahbux, Abdur Rahman Chughtai, Ahmed Parvez, Bashir Mirza, Colin David, F N Souza, Gulgee, Jehangir Sabavala, Krishen Khanna, M F Husain, Murtaza Bashir, S H Raza, Shakir Ali and Vasudeo S. Gaitonde.
Unicorn has a high reputation for the quality of its exhibitions, Annual Art Book Fair exclusive to Unicorn, art scholar talks and documentary screenings. Unicorn is also active in the preservation of the history of regional painting by way of a prolific production of art monographs and books.
Unicorn Gallery has hosted retrospectives of major masters including: Sadequain’s Rubbiyats, Jameel Ahmed A Forgotten Master, Ghulam Rasul - Pakistan’s most influential landscape painter and most recently Laila Shahzada a life - The legacy of a pioneer of modern painting in Pakistan.
Unicorn Gallery was Founded by Seemah Niaz.
Unicorn Gallery specializes in Modern and Contemporary South Asian Art and has a high reputation for the quality of its exhibitions, annual art book fairs, lectures, documentary screenings, launches, seminars, internships and other opportunities. Unicorn Gallery holds numerous thought-provoking exhibitions in collaboration with curators, art galleries, museums, institutes and organizations, and sources to auction houses. We encourage scholarly research and exploration of art as seen from its historical, cultural, and social contexts with art critics and historians.
The gallery produces its own exhibitions including traveling shows, introduces new art publications and hosts retrospectives of major painters as well as represents emerging artists, who experiment in a wide-range of media, display technical skill, diversity in portfolio and are innovative in approach. Unicorn Gallery’s exhibitions have encompassed all the visual arts including: painting, drawing, sculpture, printmaking, serigraphs, photography, architecture, film, video and performance.
SEEMAH NIAZ was educated at St.George’s School in London, England and Lahore, Pakistan. She is a M.A previous in English Language and Literature from Punjab University, and B.A. in French and English Literature from Kinnaird College. She has been a freelance journalist and has contributed articles to Herald, Newsline, Dawn, Star etc. She has curated numerous exhibitions on South Asian Art in Dubai, New Delhi, Singapore and London and is the Founder of Unicorn Gallery, Karachi, and Unicorn Space, Dubai. She is widely traveled and has taught at The Lyceum School, St. Patrick’s, Karachi, Westminster College and David Game.
Seemah is actively involved in social work, promoting literacy and child health in Pakistan. She is the author of the ‘Mona Naqsh’ biography. Niaz has lectured on Pakistani Art at the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland in London.
Farrukh Shahab trained under the artist Eqbal Mehdi. Farrukh Shahab’s early work comprised of portraits, realistic and impressionist paintings. Over a period of time the artist developed his own unique style which echoed traces of cubism and and abstract expressionism.Farrukh has participated in several group and solo exhibition in Pakistan and internationally.
Mohammad Kazim was born in Hyderabad Deccan in 1943. He was a distinguished painter, printmaker, calligraphist who worked in mulmul (velvet) cloth and handmade paper and vegetable dyes. Kazim was known for his Indus Valley paintings of Mohen-jo-Daro women as well as Indus Valley reliefs. The artist participated in an arts residents by Chicago Artists International and participated in various international exhibitions held in Hong Kong, Japan, Poland, Norway, and Spain and had won a bronze medal at the 6th National Exhibition held in 1994. He passed away in 2007.
Leading contemporary artist and filmmaker Owais Husain (born 1967) son of Indian Master, M.F Husain, trained at Sir J.J. School of Art in Mumbai. Essentially a figurative painter, Owais finds drawing in his sketchbook with this pen or capturing the image in his camera or ‘video sketching’ equally exciting. Owais is a multi-talented artist and and a synergy across different art forms defines and resonated through all his work that includes besides painting, some important films. Some of these are joint creations of the famous Father-son duo such as: ‘Meenaxi: Tale of Three Cities’ Owais’s paintings have been auctioned at all major auction houses, inlcuding Christie’s and Sotheby’s.
Asif Ahmed graduated from National College of Art in 2004 with a BFA 1st Division, Distinction in Miniature Painting. The artist has participated in several group and solo exhibitions in Pakistan and abroad. His modern miniatures explore traditional art, political intrigue, power and blending history with the modern. Asif Ahmed’s miniatures have been auctioned internationally and featured in several publications.
Bashir Ahmed was born in 1953 and was the department head of miniature department at the National College of Arts in Lahore. A distinguished artist Professor Bashir Ahmed has been a traditional miniature artist working in the original Persian and Mughal miniature techniques and training generations of modern miniaturists.
Book: Miniature painters, ‘Painters of Pakistan’ by S.Amjad Ali
Lahore was for centuries a flourishing centre of miniature painting. Three eminent elderly artists were working in this style in the early years of Pakistan: Ustad Haji Mohammad Sharif, Ustad Shujaullah and Ustad Aftab Ahmed Khan. They died, respectively, in 1978, 1980 and 1984.
Today four of their pupils are keeping the traditions of this art alive in Lahore. They are Bashir Ahmed who teaches this art in the National College of Art, Lahore; Khalid Saeed Butt who teaches his subject in the Punjab University Fine Arts Department, Lahore; Salahuddin, who used to work in the Lahore Museum; and Shakeel Ahmad, who practices the art privately. A fifth artist, who also works in Lahore and teaches art in the Queen Mary’s College for Women, is Munira Alam. Bashir Ahmed is the most prolific and significant artist out of all of these.
Book:Winds of change, ’Painting in Pakistan’ by Ijaz Ul Hassan
Bashir Ahmed has also undergone the discipline required of a miniature painter. He has made bolder attempts to break through the conventional format in order to express the ‘miniature’ in terms of tone and new materials rather than surface decoration.
Ali Azmat obtained an MFA with Gold Medal in 1998 and a diploma in drawing and painting from Alhamra Academy of Performing Arts, Lahore 1994. The artist paints the human form, his paintings are loaded with social commentary observing Pakistani culture, and politics and depict the human form in a realistic manner. The artist has participated in several exhibitions in Pakistan and abroad.
Akram Spaul studied at National College of Arts Lahore (1967) and Central Institute of Arts & Crafts (1972). His paintings are realistic and detailed. Colour is often highlighted with strong use of light and shade. Akram Spaul is a super realist and a partial surrealist. His paintings have been widely exhibited in Pakistan and internationally and enjoy great popularity for their impeccable execution.
Masood A Khan (born in Kushtia North Bengal) studied English and Economics and later obtained a certificate at Mashkoor School of Art. He is a known watercolourist known for his individual style of creating thin transparent layered washes of watercolour on paper. The artist has won first prize at Italy’s Biennale of Chianciano, an international art festival – and works primarily with ink, charcoal, acrylic and silk paint on wasli. His work has been exhibited widely in Pakistan and internationally.
Mansur Aye was born in 1941 and passed away in the year 2008. In his lifetime the artist executed several paintings, some of the themes included: Moon-faced girls, stilll life, portraits of women and musicians at work. The artist was prolific and worked in pencil drawings, brush drawing, chemical drawings, water colour, mixed media, acrylic and oil paints. Mansur Aye the artist was self taught and had his first exhibition in Karachi at Karachi Arts Council in 1962.
Book: ‘Painter of Pakistan’ by S. Amjad Ali
He developed his own distinctive style which consisted of utter simplification of the image and rendering the face and the features with a few bold strokes. He used a very thick brush to make an outline of the face in the form of a circle, two straight lines for the thin long neck. A little dot sufficed for the small mouth and often the eyes were shown downcast coyly and drawn by just a semicircle with a fringe for eyelashes.
The vogue for Cubist abstraction was at its height in Pakistan in the 60s and so Mansur also crossed the face and neck with some diagnol lines and coloured them flat separately. The old Cubist trick of showing the profile of the face in the middle of the frontal picture of the face was also used by Mansur.
Thus, the moon-faced girls with the moon in the background became the hall mark of his work.
Nahid Raza is a feminist painter. A graduate of the Central Institute of Arts and Crafts (CIAC in 1970) she is now a Principal at the same college. She held her first exhibition the same year, at the Goethe Institute. In the 80s Nahid’s work largely dealt with Baloch Chawkandi Tombs. With time the artist went on to develop a new style dealing largely with the theme of womanhood. She has participated in several exhibitions in Pakistan and abroad and her work has been vastly featured in magazines and art publications including Dr. Akbar Naqvi’s Image and Identity as well as Pioneering perspectives by Niilofur Farrukh.
JAMEEL AHMED also known Jhuggi wala was a self taught artist found in a slum in Karachi. While the date of his birth is unknown Jameel later moved and later died in East Pakistan present day Bangladesh in 1982. Jameel jhuggiwala was known for his landscape paintings of Punjab and East Pakistan as well as his cityscape and sea paintings of Karachi and abstract drawings. Only a handful of old collectors and families have his work, rarely do his paintings or drawings come in for resale.
Book: ‘Painters of Pakistan’ by S.Amjad Ali, chapter Landscape painters
It was in June, 1960 that Jameel hit the headlines. The papers were full of stories of the new artist discovered in the slums of Karachi. Some good-hearted people helped him with painting material so that he did not have to draw with charcoal taken from the hearth on which his meals were cooked, or to paint with juices pressed from leaves and flowers…
Jameel’s love of nature took him to Bengal (then East Pakistan where he wandered in the Sunderbans. He was enamored of the long thin curved boats that looked like the crescent moon and which were seen on all the rivers and lakes of the region. He painted this subject on many canvases and the massing of these crescent shapes gave a marked design quality to the picture….
Jameel had to bear serious hardships and a grave tragedy towards the end of his life. He did not live long enough to benefit by the boom that took place in the art world of Karachi in the mid-eighties, otherwise the propitious circumstances could have led to much greater development of his art. He died in the early 80s and no one has yet filled the void he left in Karachi of a dedicated painter of landscapes in oils.
Book: ‘Image and Identity’ by Akbar Naqvi, chapter Karachi Artists,
….Another painter who made quite a stir was the self-taught landscape painter, Jamil Jhuggiwala, who came from Karachi’s jhuggi, or refugee settlement of ramshackle huts. He has developed his own style of drip-and-dribble a la Jackson Pollock under instruction from a visiting American artist who was also said to be the muse of Gulgee.
SHAHID JALAL (Born 1948) is one of the outstanding members of the Association who has no art qualification from any institution and has therefore not been mentioned in their context. He has developed a style of his own which is executed with thick impasto brush strokes, the surface being further divided to form a subtle pattern in his patiently executed landscapes, in which the sunlight and shadows are the other striking elements of the larger design – Paintings at Alhamra ’50 years of Lahore Arts Council’ by Dr. Mussarat Hassan
There is nothing casual or even offhand in his work. Both the subject and the style are neat, orderly, planned, precise and refined, like the artist himself – Landscape painters, ‘Painters of Pakistan’ by S. Amjad Ali
Unicorn Gallery is pleased to present on 25th March 2014 a group exhibition of paintings by Pakistan’s most distinguished artists. The Golden Collection 2014 features new art works by: Ustad Bashir Ahmed, Ghulam Mustafa, Ghulam Rasul, Mian Ijaz Ul Hassan, Jameel Ahmed jhuggiwala, Khalid Iqbal, Shahid Jalal, Zarah David, Zulfiqar Zulfi, Zulqarnain Haider. Opening time: 4 pm to 8 pm. Exhibition shall last till 25th April 2014.
The Golden Collection is Unicorn Gallery’s most prestigious annual exhibition.
The exhibition showcases landscapes, scenic art and nature based paintings by some of the most reputable names in Pakistani art.
We are pleased to present to the public for the first time the landscapes of miniaturist Professor Bashir Ahmed, Ghulam Mustafa’s depiction of landscapes in Punjab, the late master artist Ghulam Rasul’s popular sarsoon series, Mian Ijaz ul Hassan’s flat colour application and depiction of garden scenes, a rare Punjab rural landscape by the master Jameel Ahmed (jhuggiwala), unseen work of the legendary painter Khalid Iqbal – a pioneer of modern realism in Pakistani landscape painting, Shahid Jalal’s new garden series, Zarah David’s surreal landscapes, Zulfiqar Zulfi’s dramatic depiction of Punjab countryside, and Zulqarnain Haider’s fine depiction of the countryside surrounding Lahore.
GHULAM RASUL (1942-2009) is widely considered the most influential landscape painter of Pakistan.
His works are in private and public collections including: National Museum, National Art Gallery Islamabad, Bradford Museum and Galleries, N.I.U Board of Regents Springfields, Asian Art L.V Museum.
The artist has participated in major traveling shows at Asia Museum, Pasadena, PNCA, Asia House, Artist Association of Punjab, Al-Hamra Art Center, Fukuoka Museum, Society of Contemporary Art and several others.
Trained with an M.A in printmaking and painting from Northern Illinois University, Dekalb, USA from 1970-72 and Punjab University, M.A Fine Arts in 1964, Rasul introduced flat colour application to landscape painting in Pakistan. The late master was best known for his monumental Mustard fields’ paintings and his varied use of several tones of green.
This landmark exhibition brings together the artist’s latter paintings. Ghulam Rasul created remarkable and innovative works that have redefined contemporary landscape practice.
Unicorn Gallery takes pride in hosting this retrospective in collaboration with the late artist’s family, the first of its kind to be held in Karachi with the last remaining works available on the occasion. – Seemah Niaz.