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April 15, 2019

Watercolourist Abdul Hayee paid a vibrant tribute


April 15, 2019

The ArtCiti Gallery paid tribute to Pakistan’s renowned watercolourist Abdul Hayee through a recent exhibition. A statement released by the gallery stated that they had paid tribute to the artists by arranging his first-ever solo show at the age of 72.

The gallery said that the exhibition was organised to recognise and appreciate Hayee’s services to art for the past four decades, adding that he had spent almost his entire life working in the field of art and serving people who were interested or connected to it.

“My mission is to promote creativity, learning and growth in the lives of aspiring artists by teaching them the techniques of art using watercolours as a medium of expression,” said Hayee in his artist statement.

“I advise my pupils to look past the obvious, observe the environment closely and engage with the subject matter that they want to paint. I want to challenge them to see beyond the conspicuous self and capture the uniqueness in nature.

“I hope to kindle in them a passion and appreciation for arts and our culture. My own inspiration is nature, in all its colourful grandeur and vibrancy, and the way sunlight makes them shine in brilliant splendour.

“Under the hide and seek of natural sunlight, using traditional watercolours, whether it is a simple landscape, the harbour, old architecture or flowers, I aim to capture movement and life, making the colours on my palette sing to my dancing brushstrokes on paper.

“My work is an examination of the simple yet different forms in nature, presenting them in the way our environment is formed and the way I behave within it.

“My watercolours are a celebration of life, treasuring the local, small-scale, ordinary people who build the boats at the harbour; the fishes in our seas; those who tend to our gardens and flowers, preserve our heritage; the creative ones — to view, paint and present. My watercolours pay tribute to the natural world, serving as a reminder to slow down and reconnect with nature.”

Hayee was born on January 15, 1948 in a village between India’s Kanpur and Agra to simple parents. He is one of five brothers, each of whom pursued their own vocation, while Hayee pursued art.

His passion led him to the Karachi School of Art, from where he received his diploma in fine arts in 1971. While he worked at the Sindh Secretariat for 25 years, whatever spare time he had, he devoted it to pursuing his passion for nature and art, which continues to this day.

Hayee is a man with a mission to teach his art of watercolours to whoever wishes to learn it, and this he has been doing for over four decades.

Being an on-the-spot artist, he has been taking his band of eager pupils to various sites, patiently teaching them the art of painting and inspiring them with his technique of bringing watercolours to life. To the artist in him, every location holds millions of possibilities of creativity, and this is aptly apparent in his diverse watercolours.

Wearing his Breton hat, he can be seen at diverse locations, busy in capturing the blue waters at the West Wharf or the greenery of Malir. His mind captures every detail, and using his palette, he transfers them onto paper, creating the imagery with depth and perfection.

Not restricted to nature’s blue and green, he ventures to parks in Karachi to paint colourful flowers and foliage, studies old architecture, shifting to earth colours and ochre to paint the very essence of these old buildings and saving them for posterity.

He has been a regular traveller to the northern areas of the country, especially to Swat, captivated with the abundance of nature there. Sitting quietly on riverbanks and large stones, his brushstrokes aim to capture meandering springs and rushing waters as they wind their way through lush forests and tall trees.

With his brush and colours, Hayee expresses art with a visual vocabulary, attempting to convey the emotion each scene evokes in him. His subject often contains a composition, shape and form, colour and contrast, chequered with an array of light and dark.

His wish is to inspire his students to look more carefully at the world around them, to discover beauty in unusual places. He also hopes they continue his legacy of painting watercolours with passion and zeal, bringing the colours of nature to life.

— Photos courtesy ArtCiti Gallery