Syed Sadequain

  • Born 1930 in Amroha, British India
  • Died 1987 in Karachi, Pakistan

Born into a family of Islamic calligraphers, Sadequain drew on this aesthetic tradition throughout his painting career. In 1944, Sadequain moved to New Delhi and worked as a calligrapher for All India Radio. From 1946 to 1948 he studied at the University of Agra. In 1947, after the partition of the British Indian Empire, Sadequain identified as Pakistani and joined the Progressive Artists and Writers Movement. Sadequain’s work was exhibited at the residence of Pakistani Prime Minister to be Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy (1892–1963) in 1955. Subsequently, he received a number of public commissions for large-scale murals. Notable examples include Treasures of Time (1961) for the State Bank of Pakistan, Karachi; Saga of Labor (1967) for the Mangla Dam Power House, Azad Kashmir; and Evolution of Mankind (1973) in the entrance hall of the Lahore Museum. Sadequain’s art heroicized the working class and included symbols of struggle, such as cacti. In 1960, Sadequain won Pakistan’s national prize for painting and left for Paris later that year. In 1961 he won the laureate for artists under thirty-five at the Paris Biennale. He returned to Pakistan in 1967. Sadequain’s influence resulted in the use of calligraphy becoming widespread within Pakistani contemporary art.

Artworks by Syed Sadequain in the exhibition