THE FIRST PAKISTANI PAINTER IN USA
M.A. RAHMAN CHUGHTAI 1929 AND 1930
DR JAMES COUSIN’S TOUR IN USA
The book Murraqqa e Chughtai (illustrating Mirza Ghalib’s verses for the first time) created great waves in India and then in Europe. USA was no exception. The book was reviewed in the magazine CREATIVE ARTS NEW YORK in 1928. The artist M.A. Rahman Chughtai was introduced to an American crowd of art lovers. As this was not enough, the famous scholar Dr James Cousin went on a tour to the USA in 1929 and again in 1930. His visit was accompanied by an exhibition of paintings of SIX LEADING INDIAN PAINTERS of that time. M.A. Rahman Chughtai was one of them and the only Muslim painter represented in the USA. The reviews were spontaneous, and we present some of them. The Women City Club of San Francisco found the works inspirational to the Americans.
Six painters were mainly represented in various American cities but the subject matter of five leading painters and the subject matter of the sixth one was different and there and then spoke in visual terms, which volumes of words could not express, the distinction between two nations. The two nation theory as being advocated by philosophers like Dr Allama Iqbal could be seen in visual terms in the Art of M.A. Rahman Chughtai.
Americans love Art. Americans have loved the Art of M.A. Rahman Chughtai, and there is plenty of the relation between the artist and the USA, but here the matter is not about Chughtai Art after 1947. Here the matter is about Chughtai Art before the inception of Pakistan itself.
And there we have the tale of the two Murraqqa prints printed by MAX JAFFE OF AUSTRIA. The two, namely ‘Desert in bloom’ and ‘Serenade’ , became the rage in USA. One could see them in many American homes, in American night clubs as well as restaurants. One even saw them in some movies as well as TV seasons. They became so legendary that the owners did not even know that they were made by a Pakistani painter. It was the stuff of dreams. Some time back an Israeli lady wrote to us that the same hung in their home in Israel Palestine ages ago. The same also hung at important institutions as well as governmental offices and royal palaces. The mythical Chughtai was born with these two everywhere.
From 1947 the contacts with Americans became very extensive but that is another story and we will take it up in another blog.