Monday, September 29, 2014

Flying High

Hussaini’ painting at the Pakistan Air Force Museum at Karachi depicted an outstanding ability for using the aerial points of view that are both unusual and dramatic. These perspectives impart a sense of speed and excitement on the scene. Every image has a deep caption referring to the event and time of the scene. The show was all about war aero planes- a documentation of the history of aircrafts on canvas accompanied by a book launch entitled “Flying High” by Group Captain Rtd. Hussaini.  The occasion was to commemorate PAF’s valour on September 6, 2014.Although retired from active air force duty, Hussaini's commitment to art and the PAF continues with undiminished vigour.

Group Captain Syed Masood Akhtar Hussaini is the official Military Aviation Artist of the Pakistan Air Force. Born in January 1951, he joined PAF College, Sargodha in 1963 and was commissioned as a pilot in March 1971 at the PAF Academy, Risalpur, gaining a Bachelor's degree from that institution. In 1973 he qualified as an Air Defence Weapons Controller, a capacity in which he continued to serve until his retirement in 2000.

In addition to this sixth full-colour volume of his paintings entitled “Flying High”, Hussaini's art work has appeared in several other publications. On the 40th anniversary of the PAF, the Government of Pakistan issued ten commemorative postage stamps; all bearing the miniaturised prints of his aviation paintings. Several exhibitions of his art have been held. Hussaini is well-known, rather, more known in foreign countries. His paintings are displayed in the air force premises of Bangladesh, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Jordan, the UK, the USA and Zimbabwe.

In 1987, the President of Pakistan conferred on him the Tamgha-i­ Basalat in recognition of his contributions as the Aviation Artist of the PAE. This was followed in 1998 by the President's Pride of Performance Award to Hussaini. The American Society of Aviation Artists has honoured him with their fellowship after his work was displayed at an American exhibition.

Hussaini is a realist in the tradition of the leading aviation artist of the United States Keith Ferris, Frank Wootton of the UK and Paul Langeley of France. Ferris was the first professional artist to recognise Hussaini's extraordinary talent and became his friend and mentor.

Keith Ferris, founder of American Society of Aviation Artists penned down the preface of Hussaini’s current volume of paintings. He writes: “I have enjoyed knowing Group Captain SMA Hussaini for the thirty-two years since we first met at Khamis Mushait, Saudi Arabia in 1980 when he was seconded to the Royal Saudi Air Force as a young Pakistan Air Force officer. It has been a pleasure to watch Hussaini's progress in the aviation art world as he became the official Pakistan Air Force Artist and the author of a fine series of books on the PAF. The American Society of Aviation Artists (ASAA) has been proud to include Hussaini as a Foreign Associate Artist Fellow and Life Member for the past 25 years. We always look forward to his participation in ASAA's Annual Juried International Aerospace Art Exhibitions and Educational Forums. 'Flying High' is another fine example of Hussaini's skills as an aviation artist.”

Foreword by F. S. Aijazuddin highlights the skills of Hussaini and counts the PAF fortunate that it has a painter of Hussaini’s skills to provide a pictorial panorama of the PAF’s growth and success since its creation.  His immediate link with flying and air force imbues his paintings and drawings with an authenticity that is instinctive. His brush passes over the canvas as if his hand was caressing the metal surface of an aircraft. His feeling for his subjects is almost tactile. His depiction of every aircraft is the product of an intimate knowledge of its functional machinery.

To this natural affinity, Hussaini adds an unimpeachable knowledge of the history of his service. Each incident he depicts is a reminder of a particular event that even from this distance in time, glows with relevance and in many cases of chivalry as a beacon of inspiration. Hussaini's talents are a national asset; his work our national heritage. Books such as this volume will remain not only his personal homage to a service to which he has devoted his life, but a tribute by the grateful nation to the Pakistan Air Force and its allied services.

Air Chief Marshal (Retd) Jamal A. Khan is another admirer of Hussaini’s artwork. In his introductory note he lauds his documented effort and says, “Flying high depicts many significant and memorable way points during the development of the Pakistan Air Force as the vital arm of national defence. At the same time, this is no less a pictorial history of the daunting challenges that Pakistan has faced from its birth in safeguarding its security. Nearly every painting reflects how the spirited men and women of the young country's air force have played a consistently professional and valorous role - often in the face of impossible odd- - to ensure the nation's independence and safety.

I know of no other air force that is as fortunate as the PAF in having, in the midst of its numerous dedicated personnel, also a world-class aviation artist of exceptional talent and patriotism. Hussaini, an internationally acclaimed painter, wore the air force uniform for 35 years - first as a pilot, then as a weapons controller and finally as the Official Artist of his Service. Retiring in 2ooo, he has continued to paint his highly dynamic scenes of the air force life and events that are as enjoyable and inspiring today as they were at the time of their occurrence. Each edition of this book represents a visual feast that Hussaini has proudly created for his country and his air force.”