In his own words, Sadequain was primarily a figurative painter, who infused his swirling, text-heavy works with allegorical significance that resonated readily with his fellow Pakistanis. Son of a family of Koran scribes, his works possess calligraphic aesthetic and poetic resonance. Even when abstracted and utilized as an independent art form, the calligraphic forms evoke an essence of Islam as well as a sense of patriotism.
Born in Amroha, Uttar Pradesh, in India, he migrated to Pakistan soon after graduating from Agra University with a degree in Art History. He passed away in Pakistan in 1987. Today he’s known as a Pakistani painter, and one of the country’s most prolific Modernists—having produced more than 15,000 murals, paintings, calligraphies and drawings in his lifetime. He is also one of Pakistan’s best known artists, second only, perhaps, to A R. Chughtai.
In the late 1950s, Sadequain plunged himself into self-imposed seclusion on Karachi’s barren seacoast where he learned to endure a hostile environment. It proved a pivotal moment in his artistic development; his began showing almost immediately in exhibitions in Europe and in the United States throughout the 1960s. In 1961 he won the laureate of the French Biennale for artists under 35.
Throughout his career he undertook several large scale public works, most notably his murals in the Lahore Museum. He received state patronage for his murals, yet produced socially and politically satirical works; his work was violently protested during a 1976 exhibition. It took until the early 1980s before Indian audiences began lauding his achievements; he passed away in 1987.