The art and architecture of Pakistan is a beautiful mix of old, new, traditional, and modern. Visitors can explore the vast beauty that spans from ancient Mughal styles to post-modern lines displayed in all sorts of artistic mediums, including painting, sculpture, textiles, jewelry pottery, and architectural designs.
Pakistani Culture of Art
Abdur Rahman Chughtai
Abdur Rahman Chughtai (1899–1975) was a Pakistani painter who is best known for his unique and rather abstract style of art. Born in 1899, he studied painting at the Government College Lahore and received accolades from both Pakistan as well as abroad. In 1960, Afghanistan awarded him their Hilal-i-Imtiaz award, followed by West Germany’s Gold Medal, which they presented to him four years later because of all that he had accomplished during those 4 decades.
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Syed Sadequain Ahmed Naqvi, a Pakistani calligrapher, and painter, is famous for his talents. He is most notably referred to as Sitara-e-Imtiaz or the Pride of Performance (Tamgha). His works are admired in Pakistan and worldwide, with at least one painting exhibited outside Karachi every year since 2000.
Ismail Gulgee is a Pakistani artist born in Peshawar. He was an engineer by trade and self taught painter of abstracts, portraits, and calligraphy influenced by Islamic tradition or “action painting.” Ismael received national awards for his work, including the Sitara-e-Imtiaz (twice), Hilal-e-Imtiaz Award, which he obtained from about 1960.
Shakir Ali was a Pakistani artist and teacher who is best known for his impressionistic paintings that are now considered some of the most famous in Lahore. Widely believed to have inspired Cubism among artists, he had an entire school of followers during Pakistan’s Golden Age due largely to being their principal at the National College of Arts in Lahore.
Shahzia Sikander is an artist who explores stereotypes of Eastern and Pakistani women through mixed-media works, installations, performance art. Born in Pakistan to a Muslim family living in the United States, she has been awarded MacArthur Fellows Program “genius grant” for her ability to use artistic media as a protest against stereotyping those from different cultures than one’s own.
Faiz Ahmad Faiz
Faiz Ahmad Faiz was a Pakistani poet who had an extensive career. He is considered one of the most famous poets in Urdu, and he received both international acclaim as well as recognition from his own country when he became their first recipient of the Lenin Peace Prize, which came with the Soviet Union’s highest honor after being nominated for Nobel prize shortly before his death.
Bapsi Sidhwa is a Pakistani-origin author who does her writing in English. She has written both the 1991 novel Ice Candy Man, adapted as Mehta’s 1998 film Earth and the 2006 novel Water: A Novel that served as inspiration for his 2005 movie of the same name.
Saadat Hassan Manto
Saadat Hassan Manto was a short story writer of Kashmiri heritage who is best known for his stories, “Bu,” “Khol Do,” and the magnum opus, Toba Tek Singh. His body of work is considered to be one that truly captures the complexities of life in Pakistan.
Ashfaq Ahmed, the gifted Urdu writer from Pakistan was renowned for his heart and hand. He created insightful stories that had many appreciating him across borders as one of the best in this genre of writing.
Mushtaq Ahmad Yusufi
Mushtaq Ahmad Yusufi is an Urdu satirist and humor writer from Pakistan. He served as the head of several national and international governmental institutions, including a stint in 1999 when he was given Sitara-e-Imtiaz and Hilal-i Imtiaz for his outstanding work with literature.
Scholars consider Muhammad Iqbal as among the greatest poets and philosophers ever born in twentieth-century Muslim countries; not just because he’s written so much but because it has been translated into multiple languages worldwide.
His work has been translated into more than 20 languages around the world, including English where he has inspired poets such as Rudyard Kipling and WB Yeats with words that have resonated through times a philosopher he’s credited with bringing Muslims together following World War One when they were experiencing heightened tensions due to being treated unequally on both sides of what would become borders between India-Pakistan.
Parveen Shakir was a poet who became known for her Urdu writings. She also taught at an educational institution and later worked as a civil servant in the government.
Urdu poet Ahmed Faraz was a legend in the Urdu literary world, but his life story is quite tragic. Born to an aristocratic family and educated at English-medium schools, he attended Princeton University on scholarship before returning home due to illness. His love of poetry began as early as age seven when Persian poets were recited by those who visited his household for tea sessions called halaqas.
Amjad Islam Amjad
As a famous Urdu poet, drama writer, and lyricist from Pakistan, Amjad Islam has written many columns and essays. He is also known for his translations of other literature from languages such as English to the Urdu language. His main focus in writing Nazms can be felt through reading any one of them, which tells an enchanting tale that will leave you wanting more like we want just another bite of our favorite dessert.
Rickshaw and Truck Art
Rickshaw art, also known as truck art or ricksha painting, is a form of neo-romanticism emerging in Pakistan. These paintings are done on the canvas roof of old rickety carts and consist mainly of portraits depicting landscapes representing their homeland for drivers who long to return there.
Rickshaw art is a form of neo-romanticism that has emerged in Pakistan. Street artists paint the rear canvas roof with oil paints, creating scenic landscapes and personalized portraits for each driver’s vehicle. You may see several different styles on one rickshaw. These passionate painters use their talents to create something beautiful out of what would otherwise be an ordinary mode of transportation.