Living Colours: ‘The quality of art was better 30 to 40 years ago’Archive
Jimmy Engineer is an artist and social worker who was born in Loralai, Balochistan in 1954. He has produced more than 2,000 paintings and 1,000 calligraphy pieces and was awarded the National Endowment of the Arts USA award in 1989.
For more than four decades, he has tried to advocate human rights through his art work. Dawn caught up with him in Islamabad before a discussion hosted by My Art World in which he talked about the local art scene.
Q: What do you value most in art when assessing a piece?
A: I am not much of a critic and I believe that all artists have the right to paint whatever they feel. A lot of international art looks like a child’s work, but they have been produced by renowned artists. It is not necessary to know the mind of an artist, but I can tell good art from not so good art.
Of course, creativity and originality matter most. The quality of work is important. I do not criticise an individual and prefer making general statements when assessing art work. However, I must say that the quality of art was better 30 to 40 years ago.
Q: Are any Pakistani artists producing radical pieces?
A: Very few are. The artists of today are not dedicated and have not studied art enough to develop it. They lack originality and are drawing influences from everywhere. There work lacks in knowledge and research and their skills are not impressive either. A few artists may be producing good work, but collectively, their work is very poor. They seem to be more interested in selling their paintings and that too, fast. Bangladeshi artists have better backgrounds than contemporary Pakistani artists which is why Pakistani artists are not that well known around the world.
Art and culture have suffered from the political circumstances and disturbances in the country. Art cannot grow amongst such disturbance, when there is no peace of mind. Art and culture need prosperity, harmony and encouragement to grow.
Q: What are art consumers in the country like?
A: Very few people understand art and that will take a long time to change. Most people collect art which will go with the curtains in their living rooms and the couch in their bedrooms. Private art galleries do not have any standards and are only in it for the money.
Published in Dawn, November 24th, 2016