‘Memories Of Japan’: Shahid Jalal’s Magnificent Last Lap

A glimpse of Japan’s manicured beauty captured by Shahid Jalal in his paintings currently on show in Lahore feels like a farewell letter from him to his love for painting gardens and nature. The thrilling colours of each piece masterfully bring together elements of symmetry, perspective, and effortless control of strokes and direction of paint. These formalistic investigations indicate that Shahid Jalal had dedicated his astute sense of observation and ability to orchestrate grand productions of nature for his canvas.

The show, titled ‘Memories Of Japan’ can be viewed as a personal travelogue of the artist from his 2019 visit to Japan. The 25 paintings on show capture scenes and moments he created after returning from the trip. A montage of inspirations that the artist experienced while travelling entails luscious trees surrounded by an explosion of anatomic flowers created through Jalal’s interpretation of form and colour.



This passionate body of work shows his remarkable self-reflection and deeply immersive painting practice that he delivered in the final year of his life. It carries an electrifying vibrancy felt even after his passing.

A montage of inspirations that the artist experienced while travelling to Japan entails luscious trees surrounded by an explosion of anatomic flowers created through Jalal’s interpretation of form and colour.

The artist’s long-standing relationship of being represented by the Ejaz Art Galleries throughout his career continues with this tribute to his final series of painting. It is common knowledge that Shahid Jalal had a close friendship with professor emeritus Khalid Iqbal whom Jalal considered his teacher and mentor. The short duration for which Jalal was enrolled at Lahore’s National College of Arts was the beginning of his career as a professional artist at age 50. This unconventional and radical change of profession, from a corporate executive to a professional artist, made him courageous and unapologetic towards rejecting societal normativity. He possessed the drive and fortitude to persevere and keep pushing the boundaries of his practice. He celebrated life, culture, music and cuisine and became a veteran of the arts.

The precision with which he painted amaranthaceous flowers, stones, shrubs, reflections of landscape in water, wisteria, sakura, and maple trees, has hyperrealism and architectural motifs but remains balanced with abstraction of colour mixing optics. The artist drafted each inch of the canvas with deliberate focus and emotive frequencies of mark making. These design layouts within the composition are then further layered with textures and a gradient of light. The transportive quality of the painting leaves the viewer with a heightened sense of harmony. Shahid Jalal invites the viewer to join him in his admiration and celebration of nature and life.

In this paintings currently showcased at the Ejaz Art Galleries, colours are unleashed with a sense of psychedelic excitement. In ‘Full Bloom amidst the Sakura’ and ‘Veil of Flowers’ there is an enigma that draws the viewer closer to the painting, while capturing the senses from a distance. Each layer reveals another dimension and depth within the exoskeleton of the initial composition. The dominating branches of the trees are softened by the waterfall of flowers.



The hypnotic detailing of the muralistic multiple panel painting, titled ‘The Centre Within’ is a triumph of the artist’s abilities as a colourist and naturalist. The rendering of textures in ‘The Zen Garden’ and ‘Serenity in the Garden’ create optical illusions that are modernistic and able to balance realism of cobblestone pathways and microscopic views while engaging with tools of abstraction.

Shahid Jalal’s observations of Japanese landscape, mixed with his own visual vocabulary, create a personalised experience that is sincere in its representation of himself. An artist with a heart of a traveller, poet and philosopher, he leaves his viewers with a final volume of painting that are testament to his unfaltering commitment to oil painting.



The source of light in these paintings is the sun. We understand the time of the day with the direction it falls on the objects in view. The illuminating light coming from within each flower in ‘The Flower Chandelier’ has a celestial quality. In ‘Garlands Of Sakura’, there is almost a cosmic atmosphere that triggers the imagination. The air around each stem falling down has its own gravitational pull. Our eye travels to each corner of the painting through the interconnectedness between colours, highlights created through capturing light, and the meticulous placement of strokes.

The show opening reception was a remarkably warm gathering of family and friends who loved Shahid Jalal and his work. He is known by his friends to be caring, generous, and absolutely self-affirmed in his painting beliefs. They affectionately walked through the show that reflects his ability to weave stories into paintings — as foreground, middle and background — with the sight and psychology of viewers.

Shahid Jalal’s observations of Japanese landscape, mixed with his own visual vocabulary, create a personalised experience that is sincere in its representation of himself. An artist with a heart of a traveller, poet and philosopher, he leaves his viewers with a final volume of painting that are testament to his unfaltering commitment to oil painting.


Share the Post:

Related Posts

March 19, 2024

Navigating the History and Significance of Contemporary Art

In the vast and ever-evolving landscape of artistic expression, contemporary art stands as a vibrant

March 19, 2024

Importance of galleries in the art landscape

Galleries have long been integral to the art world, serving as hubs of creativity, innovation,

March 19, 2024

The Rise of Digital Art: Exploring NFTs, Blockchain, and the Evolution of Creativity

In the past decade, the art world has witnessed a profound shift towards digital mediums,