For Jamil Naqsh (1939 – 2019), painting was a way of life. He is a man who has lived – and continues to live his life for art. Painting to please himself; he is a master of texture, light and space as the background for his uniquely painted figurative subjects.

Born in Kairana, in the Uttar Pradesh province of India, his early childhood was marred by his mother’s death at the age of five and by the wrenching effects of the 1947 Partition on his family. He was separated from his father, who stayed behind in India and whom he never saw again. Influenced by his childhood memories of Kairana as a centre for classical music, Naqsh gravitated towards the arts and studied at the Mayo School of Art under the Modern miniaturist, Ustad Mohammad Sharif. Though not technically working in a miniature format, his training led him to choose calligraphy and figuration as his leitmotif. Focusing the subject of his oeuvre on the nude, the horse and the pigeon, the latter taken from the symbolic language of miniatures, Naqsh’s love for the female form was particularly inspired by his companion and muse of 35 years, Najmi Sura. The pigeon or dove serves as both a poignant memory of the birds that used to fly through the windows of his ancestral home and a symbol of love, as messengers of romantic missives. In this early work, Naqsh delicately manipulates impasto and paint layers to create a remarkable surface texture that allow the figure to shimmer in and out of representation.

Related Exhibitions