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    Hales, in collaboration with Odabashian and the Estate of Anwar Jalal Shemza, are delighted to announce the release of a limited-edition tapestry based on a now lost 1979 drawing by revered artist Anwar Jalal Shemza.

    Anwar Jalal Shemza (b. 1928, Simla, India – d.1985, Stafford, England) is representative of a generation of artists who came to Britain in the wake of decolonisation. His experience of migration contributed to a dedicated practice, synthesising various techniques and traditions. Shemza’s deeply studied understanding of both Islamic aesthetic principles and the tradition of geometric abstraction in the West, allowed him to explore modernism through a uniquely doubled prism. His visual vocabulary draws on an array of lived experience, from carpet patterns and calligraphic forms to the environments around him: Mughal architecture from Lahore, Pakistan to the rural landscapes of Stafford, England.

  • Birds in Flight (1979) is characteristic of line drawing traditional to Pakistan, a style that Shemza had mastered at the Mayo School of Arts in Lahore but which led to him failing a drawing exam at the Slade School of Fine Art in London, where his technique was misunderstood and rejected. In Shemza’s remarkable Birds in Flight his pigeon motif is executed in elegant, sophisticated line. Pigeons were important to Shemza – as a young boy he kept homing pigeons on the roof in Lahore, where he often slept because of the heat. Once he lived in London, as an immigrant – if visitors came from abroad it was customary to visit the tourist hotspots like Trafalgar Square to feed the pigeons and take photographs.

    The classical Gobelin-type tapestry re-honours the original, lost Birds in Flight in a timeless, traditional medium.

  • Birds, 2021, New Zealand wool tapestry, 127 x 153.5 cm (50 x 60 3/8 in). Edition of 5. Click for...
    Birds, 2021, New Zealand wool tapestry, 127 x 153.5 cm (50 x 60 3/8 in). Edition of 5. Click for more images. 
  • Anwar Jalal Shemza (b.1928 – d.1985) was born in Simla, India to Kashmiri and Punjabi parents. Shemza attended Mayo School... Anwar Jalal Shemza (b.1928 – d.1985) was born in Simla, India to Kashmiri and Punjabi parents. Shemza attended Mayo School... Anwar Jalal Shemza (b.1928 – d.1985) was born in Simla, India to Kashmiri and Punjabi parents. Shemza attended Mayo School...

    Anwar Jalal Shemza (b.1928 – d.1985) was born in Simla, India to Kashmiri and Punjabi parents. Shemza attended Mayo School of Arts in Lahore, Pakistan, graduating in 1947. In 1956, already an established artist and writer in his home land, he relocated to England to study at the Slade School of Fine Art. Throughout his life, Shemza was devoted to a singular practice in which multiple histories, cultures and experiences were distilled and expressed in pure shape and colour.

    Shemza’s work is in many public collections including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, USA; Tate, London, UK; Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, UK; Guggenheim, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates; Lahore Museum, Lahore, Pakistan; Sharjah Art Foundation, United Arab Emirates.

     

    Images:
    1. Anwar Jalal Shemza with his wife Mary and daughter Tasveer. Trafalgar Square, 1963.

    2. Anwar Jalal Shemza with his father Sadiq Butt. Trafalgar Square, 1972.

    3. Anwar Jalal Shemza with his younger brother Khalid Bilal, Trafalgar Square, 1975.