A NATIONAL ART GALLERY IN LAHORE 2ND NOVEMBER 1958
INITIATIVE OF M.A. RAHMAN CHUGHTAI AT ALHAMRA COUNCIL
M.A. Rahman Chughtai met Begum Shahnawaz at her home in 1946 and the idea of an institution to promote Muslim Culture was found and resulted in setting up the Alhamra Arts Council in Lahore. Even the name Alhamra was given to the Council by M.A. Rahman Chughtai in the background of Muslim Spain as the harbinger of the Modern Islamic Culture. It was inaugurated with a show of M.A. Rahman Chughtai by Governor General Khawaja Nazimuddin on 10th December, 1949. Other shows followed. There was a need for a permanent display of Pakistani Art at the Lahore Arts Council. The hall of Alhamra was designated as the National Art Gallery and various paintings of various artists were bought by the Council. About ten paintings of Chughtai Sahib were also bought by the Council. Most of them disappeared with time or were subject to neglect. Perhaps only two survived. One was the work PIGEONS which we found hanging in the Chief Ministers House many times and the other the SLAVE GIRL, the first version. The Slave Girl is still at the new Alhamra Art Gallery in Gaddaffi Stadium. Recently a foreign team came here to attempt restorations of such works at the gallery.
The past was so much brighter for Art and Culture in Pakistan. Today democracy has harassed the artist as well as the people of Pakistan and beaten them out of shape. No immediate relief is in sight as everybody is concerned with own self and national developments has been abandoned with sarcasm.