A SAD END TO A GREAT DREAM OF A MUSEUM – FYZEE RAHAMIN AND HIS GALLERY IN KARACHI

A SAD END TO A GREAT DREAM OF A MUSEUM
FYZEE RAHAMIN AND HIS GALLERY IN KARACHI

An iconic couple

Samuel Fyzee Rahamin mixed background is an enigma. A Jew who believed in the superiority of women and was proud of being same. Hen pecked is a small word for him. Achieving great success in  England, he boasted of having taught even Queen Mary at college. Even today Tate Gallery has a website on his works. So much success, and he along with his darling intellectual wife Atiya Begum came to Pakistan, being patronized by Quaid e Azam himself.

Wedding of Fyzee Rahameen 1912

Then something strange happened. A gallery was built by them in Karachi and was working, when the erstwhile bureaucrat N.M. Khan got wind of something wrong there, and had it demolished. It was a big shock to the couple, but it was a big shock to the art world here too. WHY? There were rumours of something wrong going on there but probably unfounded and never proven and never brought to knowledge of people. In any case proving links with intelligence is literally impossible in Pakistan. Samuel died reputedly as a Muslim having embraced Islam. And loyal Atiya pursued the case with diligence and won the same, but decided never to move back to the place. A grand gallery was conceived again and built on their land but to this day it is not complete and NO ONE HAD THE FINANCIAL COURAGE to complete it. Probably a lot of works got destroyed or stolen, but some are still there. But the output of the artist was not much. We have in our archives some books illustrated by him and most art publications in Pakistan carries a Mughal subject painting done by him.

Modern Panhari

M.A. Rahman Chughtai always complained of lack of ART  CRITICS in Pakistan who literally had no sensibility for art. If Dr Muhammed Din Taseer had lived, he was the exceptional art critic produced under guidance, companionship and love of Chughtai himself. Problem is as a nation we are not sensitive to art but as art critics we are bordering on stupidity. Art requires observation and our critics do not even have time to look at art. Outside world people view art for hours, days, months,  and even in different light and come to startling conclusions about artists. There is always hidden symbolism in work of great Masters and need thorough study to understand them. I saw the analytical skill of critic American scholar Stuart Cary Welch and was amazed at how he looked at things. British scholar Basil Gray was like that too. I saw both working at close quarters. The dramas written by Samuel Fyzee Rahamin got host of critics in London. Although John Galsworthy could only appreciate that he was selected to receive a copy of his drama. The art works of Fyzee Rahamin has not discovered any art critic yet. A look a his work MODERN PANHARI highlights his desire to link various religious movements. But it is done in a somewhat child like manner. Commission of murals at Raj Bhavan went to Fyzee Rahamin. The works at Viceroys House (Raj Bhavan) in Delhi perhaps are there, as well as Parliament house,  but many of them were whitewashed by India. In cultural destruction many things common in India and Pakistan.No complaints at all!

Fyzee Rahamin parking place

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