From lens-making to romanticism
Born in 1966 in Lahore to a working class family, Abid Khan started practical life early when he began helping his father, who was an optician, after the school hours. Being a below-average student, his studies could never interest him. Drawing school charts and learning an optician’s skills were among his major interests. He continued working at his father’s shop until he earned his Masters degree in English literature in 1993.
With a passion to paint and draw, he kept on practicing on his own, as he lacked resources to have formal art education. In 1996, he met a senior painter, Khalid lqbal, and showed him his works.
“Considering my seriousness, he agreed to guide me and that was the turning point in my life,” Khan recalls.
In 1999, he had his first solo show of cityscapes, executed with dry pastels. “Though it was well received by the media and art circles, only one painting was sold at the show. I had a lot of pressure from my family to do something else to earn Iiving,” he says, adding that the poor market response made him upset.
However, his father realised that any discouragement would add to his agony.
“My father changed his attitude and started helping me by giving me money to buy art materials. He would accompany to various spots in the city and sometimes sit beside me is that no one could disturb me while painting in the busy streets of Lahore,” he says.
“I started meeting established art figures to seek their guidance for my professional growth. Then someone advised me to concentrate on my work rather than running from pillar to post,” he said. He stopped socialising and focused on his work. The strategy worked for him.
“In 2001, I got married. The change helped a great deal in stabilising me emotionally, which is reflected through mellow colours and soft brushstrokes in my work,. he relates.
He continued displaying his works regularly in solo shows, winning appreciation and gradually having his share in the art market.
“I was producing a lot of works till 2004 when Quddus Mirza criticised me for being over ambitious. I took it seriously and changed my pace to produce mature and quality work,. he adds.
“The moment the stress caused by deadlines eased, I started making dialogue with the paintings and enjoying my work- This romantic approach improved the quality of my works,” he relates.
Inspired by the impressionist painters Monet and Van Gogh, he is working for more than 15 years with 10 solo shows to his credit. Popular for his delicately treated landscapes, he works with soft brushstrokes and mellow ton. usually on low textured
He also remained on the faculty of Naqsh School of Arts for a few months- “My enthusiastic approach towards teaching and giving attention to every student was not in accordance with their academic tempo, so I left teaching after working almost one year,” he says-
He is among the few Lahore-based artists working as whole-time painters. The works of lqbal Hussain, Colin David and Khalid lqbal have been his permanent sources of inspiration-
BY NAEEM SADHU
Published in Down