Nasser Azam: Saiful Malook
She stands adorned in flowing garments, upon a painting, as if rising from a lake, radiant in a splendour of colour and grace.
Who is the artist of the painting on which she stands, in this photograph by Souvid Datta? Where is the location whence came the artist’s inspiration?
The location is Lake Saiful Malook in the foothills of the mountains of Kashmir in modern day Pakistan. An aura of folklore, legend, history and a love story surround this secluded paradise.
Nasser Azam is the artist and his new series of abstract and large scale paintings have been unveiled for this evocative Exhibition which follows his pilgrimage to Lake Saiful Malook. His inspiration came from the beauty of the lake, its immortalisation in the poetry of the Sufi Saint, Mian Muhammed Bakhsh and the translation of the poem called ‘Saiful Malook’ into a song. The Musician Nushret Fateh Ali Khan introduced it into the Western World.
Mian Muhammed Bakhsh was renowned for his poem, ‘Saiful Malook’ and his romantic tragedy, ‘Mirza Sahiban’. He was the fourth generation spiritual descendant of Damriyan Wali Sarkar. Mian Bakhsh was born in Khari Sharif, Mirpur, Pakistan. The exact date of his birth is unknown, maybe about 1830. He wrote his poetry in mixed languages of standard Punjabi and the pothohari dialect of Punjabi, utilising a rich vocabulary of Persian and Arabic words. He greatly contributed to the mystic thought of the masses in the Punjabi language.
His poem, ‘Saiful Malook’ is a classic fable from the Hazara Region of Pakistan and tells of the love of a Prince for a fairy he saw in a dream at Lake Malook. He sought her, found her and brought her home with him encountering challenges and difficulties all the way. These are wonderfully reflected with feeling in Nasser’s paintings. The large scale suits the challenges.
The Musician, Nushret translated the poem into a song in the 90’s. It became part of the ‘qwaliyan’ genre of music based on the devotional poetry of sufism. Nushret was a legendary Pakistani vocalist and a primary singer of this genre. He was born in 1948.
Nasser Azam, on his pilgrimage to the Lake Saiful Malook was accompanied by the British Indian Composer. Soumik Datta and the British Indian photographer, Souvid Datta. They all worked on the site of Azzam’s inspiration.
Nasser Azam was born in 1963 in Jhelum, Pakistan and is a London based contemporary artist. He established his reputation with exhibitions in Birmingham, West Midlands and the barber Institute of Fine Art. He was Artist-in – residence in County Hall and his monumental bronze, ‘The Dance was unveiled on South Bank.
The Saatchi Gallery is an excellent venue for Nasser Azam’s large scale paintings. It is a great experience to follow Prince Saiful in his search for love, through Azam’s paintings. Azam sees his story as’ progressive and timeless’ and ‘as relevant today as when it was first written’ Grand Opera is also timeless. He hopes his work’ captures the spirit of the location’ He said ‘ he had translated the sound of the music into colour and movement’ an interesting concept.
Nasser Azam: Saiful Malook © Azam Studio, photo by Souvid Datta
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