Picasso and Sadequain: Comparative Analysis

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Table of contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Section 1: Pablo Picasso (1881-1973)
  3. Section 2: Sadequain biography and work

Introduction

From the beginning of the world till now there is no doubt that the world holds a huge number of creative artists who they sophisticated in art, but Pablo Picasso and Sadequain marked essential attentions in the art world. The purpose of this essay is to emphasize the comparison between life and the art work of Picasso and Sadequain accurately, juxtaposing their cultural differences for artistic similarities. Obviously, they create a new theme in either painting or drawing in the contemporary art style. Interestingly, Picasso stayed innovating on painting and sculpture while Sadequain has been distinguished for his interest in painting and Literature and for revolutionizing calligraphy in Pakistan.

Section 1: Pablo Picasso (1881-1973)

the artistic genius of Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) has impacted the development of modern and contemporary art with unparalleled magnitude. His abundant output includes over 2000 paintings, prints, drawings, sculptures, ceramics, and theatre sets that convey intellectual, political, social and amorous messages. His creative styles transcend realism and abstraction, cubism, neoclassicism, surrealism and expressionism. Born in Malaga, Spain, in 1881, Picasso studied art briefly in Madrid in 1897, then in Barcelona in where he became closely associated with a group of modernist poets, writers and artists who gathered at the Café Els Quatre Gats (the for cats) including the Catalan Carlos Casagemas (1880-1901) (Brighton and Klimowski, 1995)

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living in Paris and Spain periodically until 1904, his works during these years suggest feelings of desolation and darkness, inspired in part by the suicide of his friend Casagemas. Picasso’s paintings from late 1904, referred to as the Blue Period, This period was marked by its solemn subject matter, painted in a blue and green colour palette that conveyed the subject’s suffering. Images from this time were stark and often featured street life, including portrayals of prostitutes and street beggars. The monochromatic use of blue was commonly used in symbolist paintings in Spain and France, where it was often affiliated with the emotions of melancholy and despair, suggesting that Picasso drew inspiration for The Blue Period from his time spent in Spain observing these symbolist works. (Brighton and Klimowski, 1995)

La Vie, one of Picasso’s most iconic and mysterious works depicts a nude couple and a robed woman cradling a baby stand ominously before two paintings that depict figures crouched over in despair. The composition is stilted, the space compressed, the gestures stiff, and the tones predominantly blue – features characteristic of works from Picasso’s Blue Period. La Vie began as a self-portrait, but Picasso soon found his own features transforming to those of his lost friend Casagemas (the male figure on the left), perhaps suggesting the very personal nature of this work. (McCully, 1981)

Picasso moved to Paris in 1904 and settled in the artist quarter Bateau-Lavoir here he lived among bohemian poets and writers such as Guillaume Apollinaire (1880-1918) and Max Jacob (1876-1944). In At The Lapile Agile (1905), Picasso directed his attention towards more pleasant themes such as circus performers, acrobats and harlequins. In this painting he used his own image for the harlequin figure and abandoned the daunting blues in favour of vivid hues, red for example, to celebrate the lives of circus performers. This phase refers to the rose period. In Paris he found dedicated patrons in American siblings Gertrude (1874-1946) and Leo (1872-1947) Stein, whose Saturday-evening salons in their home was an incubator for modern artistic and intellectual thought. At the stein’s he met other artists living and working in the city- generally referred to the School of Paris. (McCully, 1981; Arnhem, 1962)

Painted in Gertude Stein (1905) records Picasso’s new fascination with pre-roman Iberian sculpture and African and Oceanic art. Concentrating on intuition rather than strict observation, and unsatisfied with the features of Stein’s face, Picasso reworked her image into a masklike manifestation stimulated by primitivism. The influence of African and oceanic art is prominent in his masterpiece Les Demoiselles d’Avingnon (1907), a painting that signals the nascent stages of cubism. Here

The basic principles of analytic cubism (1910-1912), with its fragmentation of three-dimensional forms on a two dimensional picture plane, are embodied in Still Life with a Bottle of Rum painted in 1911. The techniques of Analytic Cubism were developed by Picasso and the French artist Georges Braque (1882–1963), who met in 1907. Picasso’s Bottle and Wine Glass on a Table of 1912 is an early example of Synthetic Cubism (1912–14), a papier collé in which he pasted newsprint and coloured paper onto canvas. Picasso and Braque also included tactile components such as cloth in their Synthetic Cubist works, and sometimes used trompe-l’oeil effects to create the illusion of real objects and textures, such as the grain of wood.

After world war 1 (1914-1918), Picasso reverted to traditional styles, experimenting less with cubism. In the early 1920s, he devised a unique variant of classicism using mythological images such as centaurs, minotaurs, nymphs, and fauns inspired by the classical world of Italy. With this renewed expression, referred to as his Neoclassical Period, he created pictures dedicated to motherhood inspired by the birth of his son Paulo in 1921 (his first of four children by three women). Woman in White of 1923 shows a woman clothed in a classic, toga-like, white dress resting calmly in a contemplative pose with tousled hair, eliciting a tender lyricism and calming spirit of maternity. Toward the end of the 1920s, Picasso drew on surrealist imagery and techniques to make pictures of morphed and distorted figures. In Nude Standing by the Sea of 1929, Picasso’s figure recounts the classical pose of a standing nude with her arms upraised, but her body is swollen and monstrously rearranged.

By the early 1930s, Picasso had turned to harmonious colours and sinuous contours that evoke an overall biomorphic sensuality. He painted scenes of women with drooping heads and striking voluptuousness with a renewed sense of optimism and liberty. Reading at a Table from 1934 uses these expressive qualities of bold colours and gentle curves to portray Marie-Thérèse seated at an oversized table, emphasizing her youth and innocence.

Although still living in France in the 1930s, Picasso was deeply distraught over the outbreak of the Spanish civil war in 1936. He reacted with a powerfully emotive series of pictures, such as Dream and lie of Franco that culminated in the enormous mural Guernica (1937; Reina Sofía National Museum, Madrid), painted in a grisaille palette of grey tones. This painting, Picasso’s contribution to the Spanish Pavilion in the 1937 Exposition Universelle in Paris, is a complex work of horrifying proportion with layers of anti-war symbolism protesting the fascist coup led by Generalissimo Francisco Franco. From the late 1940s through the ‘60s, Picasso’s creative energy never waned. Living in the south of France, he continued to paint, make ceramics, and experiment with printmaking. His international fame increased with large exhibitions in London, Venice and paris, as well as retrospective in New York at the museum of São Paulo in 1953. A retrospective in New York at the Museum of Modern Art in 1957 garnered a massive amount of attention, with over 100,00 visitors during the first month. This exhibition solidified Picasso’s prominence as museums and private collectors in America, Europe, and japan vied to acquire his works. In Faun with starsfrom 1955, Picasso returned to the mythological themes explored in early pictures. Again, incorporating life experience into his painting, he evoked his infatuation with a new love, a young woman named Jacqueline Roque (1927–1986), who became his second wife in 1961 when the artist was seventy-nine years old. Picasso symbolized himself as a faun, calmly and coolly gazing with mature confidence and wisdom at a nymph who blows her instrument to the stars. The picture embraces his spellbound love for Jacqueline.

Even into his eighties and nineties, Picasso produced an enormous number of works and reaped the financial benefits of his success, amassing a personal fortune and a superb collection of his own art, as well as work by other artists. He died in 1973, leaving an artistic legacy that continues to resonate today throughout the world. (Brighton and Klimowski, 1995)

Section 2: Sadequain biography and work

Syed Sadeqauin Ahmed Naqvi was born into a family of calligraphers in Amroha, India in 1923. He is regarded as one of Pakistan’s finest calligraphers, muralists and painters with over 15,000 pieces in his collection, consisting of giant calligraphic murals, figurative art and drawings and not to mention, several thousand pieces of poetry. A self-taught artist, Sadeqauin is most commonly identified with the development of a uniquely idiomatic calligraphic aesthetic. However, his visual language is in fact one of the most variegated and complex of the south Asian modernists working post 1947. (Sadequain foundation, 2011)

India, descending from a family of Qur’an scribes and is recognized as the foremost calligrapher and painter of Pakistan, responsible for the renaissance of Islamic calligraphy in the country since the late 1960s and bringing the art form into the mainstream.

In the late 1940s, Sadequain joined the Progressive Writers and Artists Movement and through his career, produced works of thematic content reflected by his commitment to social justice, and the progressive ideals of his peers of writers and poets. Sadequain's unique visual vocabulary stemmed from the complex merging of Eastern (calligraphy) and Western (figurative) traditions in art, alongside Hindu and Muslim ideology. Sweeps of a calligraphic brush are echoed in the artist's flamboyant approach to painting figures but his forms and themes are mostly biographical. Contortions to figurative style arose from his observation of wild, defiant cacti growing against the odds in the deserts of Gadani (Karachi, Pakistan) which left an indelible impression on the artist and his work. Colours used are simplistic yet provide strong structural elements through Sadequain's contrast of etched strokes.

With the support of state patronage, Sadequain completed many celebrated commissions for example in 1955, Sadequain painted his first mural in Jinnah Hospital, Karachi. However in my research, I failed to find the dimensions, title and condition of the mural. It was in 1961 that Treasures of Time, the first large mural in Pakistan (65ft x 10ft), was executed by Sadequain for the library of the State Bank of Pakistan, Karachi. In the mural, the historical progress of humanity, knowledge and civilisation is represented through pictorials of philosophers, scholars, mathematicians, scientists, writers and poets, starting from the first pre historic man to Allama lqbal and Einstein. In the middle he drew a self-portrait; the frail figure of Sadequain showing his pulse to Hakim Al Razi. The painting also highlights the pinnacle of Islamic scholars through representation of Ibn-i-Zakaria, Rumi, Al-Idrisi, Hafiz and Ibn-i-Khaldun, Al-Beruni, Omar Khayyam, Ibn-i-Rushd and Al-Khawarizmi. The scientific equipment, navigational instruments and architectural landmarks elaborate the identity and acumen of depicted personalities. Unlike Sadequain’s customary blues, greys and blacks, this mural is moderately punctuated with shades of orange, yellow and bright blue.

He shot to fame at the young age of 31, when his work won recognition at the 1961 Paris Biennale. The October 16, 1962, edition of the Parisian newspaper Le Figaro noted, “Sadequain adds up the impression of space, density, volume and the reality of matter, which transforms an abstract thought into a material fact in plastic.” (Sadequain foundation,2011) It is said that in between 1962-63 during his visits to Paris, he completed a mural for the PIA office there. Again, I was unable to find the dimensions, title, condition and whereabouts of that mural. Two years later, Le Monde et La Vie, Paris, reported in April that, “The multiplicity of Sadequain’s gifts is reminiscent of Picasso. (Sadequain foundation, 2011)

In terms of Sadequain's work in calligraphy, outside of Quranic verses, the artist's affinity to literature resulted in works illustrating the classical poetry of Iqbal, Ghalib and Faiz. He was even chosen to illustrate Nobel Laureate, Albert Camus’s 1942 classic “The Stranger” while he resided in Paris.

A collection of paintings from the 1960s, when Sadequain lived and worked in Paris. Titled The Lost Exhibition, this set of eight paintings are dancing figures of calligraphy; lyrical despite their scale. These works are considered examples of what the artist called “Calligraphic Cubism”. Employing the scratched surface technique on the background, the texture produces volume and three- dimensionality. Seemingly caught in action, the elongated movement of the script along the vertical axis make these works appear monumental in viewing.

Sadequain’s acute sense of design allowed him to deftly use the line to fill space. Apart from a few paintings he seemed to fill space more with line than colour. His love of the line is apparent in many sketches he produced and led him to become one of the first artists in Pakistan to experiment with calligraphy as an art form. While analysing Sadeqauin’s line drawings, Akbar Naqvi in culture of enlightenment makes a connection between his act of writing and the act of making images. “Taught and trained in calligraphy, he learnt to draw and paint in the modern way, without going to an art school. The line of the Khat or the Arabic/Persian alphabet, and the arabesque of his own kind were the principal strength of his art.”

One feature of Sadequain’s metamorphic skill, an aspect of the vitality of his art, was his unbelievable creative strength and energy. In 1967, Sadequain painted the 180 feet x 23 feet wall of the turbine hall of Mangla Dam in less than 3 months. This piece titled Saga of Labour illustrates the age of progress and industrialisation by beginning with a man using his muscles to break stones and concluding with man using his brain to mechanise, build and develop.

He was after realism and strongly rejected the calls of the material world. Although he had made a great name for himself in his homeland and beyond, Sadequin never sold his paintings. This is why his art works are featured in multiple public places in Pakistan such as at Lahore Museum and Karachi airport. He once gifted 250 paintings to the Pakistan National Council of Arts in Islamabad and used to give away his best works of art for free.

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Picasso and Sadequain: Comparative Analysis. (2022, December 27). Edubirdie. Retrieved June 16, 2024, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/picasso-and-sadequain-comparative-analysis/
“Picasso and Sadequain: Comparative Analysis.” Edubirdie, 27 Dec. 2022, edubirdie.com/examples/picasso-and-sadequain-comparative-analysis/
Picasso and Sadequain: Comparative Analysis. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/picasso-and-sadequain-comparative-analysis/> [Accessed 16 Jun. 2024].
Picasso and Sadequain: Comparative Analysis [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Dec 27 [cited 2024 Jun 16]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/picasso-and-sadequain-comparative-analysis/
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