His mother making colourful traditional ‘ralli’ and sisters doing intricate embroidery at home was his first exposure to the beauty of colours and lines, during his early childhood. Rooted in the colours and literary traditions of his land, Aqeel Solangi stands tall among his contemporaries for his sound painting skills, employing a variety of mediums.
He was born to a family of farmers in a remote village near Rani Pur, a small town in Sindh.
“Like other boys of my village, I would help my father in farming and take care of cattle. I would love scribbling on walls and making charcoal drawings.”
The passion to draw led Solangi to joining the studio of cinema board painter Ustad Mehboob at Rani Pur as an apprentice.
“I was trained to write banners initially; the next stage was painting flowers and landscape that made a lasting impression on my mind. The periwinkle flower, which I painted in various compositions, was planted in my mind during that time. Cinema hoarding painters had a culture of their own. The huge boards were drawn by senior painters, followed by layers of painting by students and final finishing by the master himself again.
“I grew up painting famous actors like Rani, Neeli, Sultan Rahi and Nadira,” he vividly recalls.
Joining the studio of veteran artist Mussarat Mirza in 1999 was a watershed moment in his life.
“To enhance my skills with the permission of my Ustad, I joined the studio of Mussarat Mirza which she opened in Sukkur after her retirement from the Sindh University. After few months of training, she advised me to join the National College of Arts. For the first time in my life, I had heard the name of this institution,” he says.
From the NCA, Solangi earned a masters degree in visual arts in 2005. Then he went to London for Charles Wallace Fellowship and after returning, joined the faculty of National College of Arts’ Rawalpindi campus where he is working till date as an assistant professor.
With seven solo shows to his credit, his career spans over more than a decade.
“The academic environment (at the college) was altogether different from the workshop of Ustad Mehboob. Interaction with people from different cultural backgrounds and experimenting with wide range of mediums helped a great deal in my grooming as an artist,” he believes.
He works in oils, acrylics, gum tempera, egg tempera, graphite on paper and various mix media techniques on paper and canvass.
These works, mostly surrealist in nature, are inspired by the poetic metaphors of Kalidas, Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai and Amrita Pritam.
“The image of clouds came in my paintings from the poets using the metaphor of clouds as messenger in their poems. I felt myself spiritually attached to Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai,” he relates.
For the last few years, he is painting visuals inspired by the sights of various places he visited in Pakistan and abroad.
Working with a rich palette he kept on experimenting with the compositions and knits the visuals using the images of clouds, flowers, drapery, and human figures.
The figures appearing in his paintings during his second Masters in Bath School of Art and Design UK last year, are mostly not synchronised with the environment. Few of them are painted realistically in stark contrast to the backgrounds created by exploiting the dripping paint, like abstract painters.
He skilfully paints light and creates the illusions of space. The flowers and clouds rendered in delicate details reflect his command over the medium and a deep attachment with the subjects.
Courtesy By: https://images.dawn.com/