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By Jim Fannin In Search of My Master
...

Book Review Pakistan Art Review

Marjorie has done it again. She is the author of “In Search of My Master” on the life and works of Jimmy Engineer- an artist and social worker. The book weighs five kg. The book was launch on Friday, January 27, 2012 at Convention Centre, DHA Golf Club Karachi. The launch was accompanied by an exhibition of selected 100 paintings by Jimmy Engineer from his work spread over the past 40 years.

Recalling his journey as an artist, Jimmy Engineer said he was five years old when he began drawing pictures with powder and water colours. At the age of six, he fell ill. Diagnosis revealed that he was suffering from renal failure, a deadly ailment.

By the grace of God he recovered and ever since had been painting because of Him. Later on he got into the National College of Arts, Lahore and opted for the design section because it was a key to get a job. But he was interested in fine arts and would always be found in the fine art section. Then the question of the efficacy of having a degree arose for which he walked out of the college to prove that a degree did not matter to be an artist.

Jimmy Engineer said people used to ask him why he made different types of paintings, to which his reply was that being a student, a pupil of art he would never acquire mastery over it. There's only one Master, Al Musawwir, and hence the name of the book.

He said he loved his country and want­ed to project its positive image abroad. He told the audience that he was a disci­ple of Sufi Barkat Ali from Faisalabad, who in 1979 held his hand and made him sit on his gaddi. After that the Sufi asked his other disciples to sing the national anthem and said his job was done. This meant that Jimmy Engineer was meant to serve Pakistan, the artist and social worker claimed. He then talked about his project of painting Allama Iqbal's Javednama, which he completed in 1982. Jimmy Engineer said Pakistan required good, selfless human beings. He informed the gath­ering that he wanted to change the life of spe­cial children and worked for that cause. He said he was involved in more than 50 walks for different causes and during one (in 1994) from Karachi to Peshawar he saw a lot of suffering. From then on he decided that one should reach out to the sufferers.

Author of the book Marjorie Husain said that writing was a lonely job but for “In Search of My Master” it was a team that put together the book. She said they had tried not to put too much information on Engineer's social work and instead talk about only his art. Still the aspect of a social crusader had come into the biography here and there. She said the book, divided into sections, covered a large part of his work. For example, she added, there was a section on his partition paintings.

S M Shahid, Editor of the book, said Jimmy Engineer was a painter on the move. He was a realist but had also dabbled in symbol­ism. He said that the artist had traits of both European renaissance painters as well as eastern miniaturists. While the Renaissance artists drew nobility in confined spaces (palaces etc), Jimmy Engineer painted ordinary people and situations. His use of natural light had also made him closer to the impressionists but his canvas was larger. He said the artist had a dual distinction of being both in the field of art and social service, which not many artists had.

Art collector Arif Bukhari said Jimmy Engineer's personality had moved him because he was a great human being. Publisher of the book Pervez Iqbal apprised the audience of how the idea of the book came about and how his team went through different stages of the publication. Waqar Malik and Atif Bajwa also spoke.