Visit the website of Lubna Agha, an honored Pakistani painter based in America (the link is listed towards the end of this article); you can read these lines on the Homepage: Amongst the foremost contemporary American-Pakistani artists is Lubna Agha, whose images challenge the immovable qualities of traditional Islamic art and artifacts to provide a vibrant and ephemeral experience of two contradictory themes — infinity and oneness. Her paintings, mostly made on wood and canvas, depict ordinary objects using the patterns and narratives in the Islamic art
We can read on her webpage an excrept from Lubna Agha — Points of Reference written by Dr Marcella Nesom Sirhandi and published by Oklahoma State University. The excerpt is part of the biography which deals with the turning points in Lubna Agha's magnificent career. As an observation on Lubna's art, Sirhindi writes: 'In these works, not only do these images integrate elements of architecture but also incorporates a brushwork style consisting of points. This method of painting gives her subject matter a distinct brilliance in color and shape.'
The above two paragraphs give you a picture of the artist, who died recently and, as atypical of an obituary, this article wanted to focus on what is alive after her demise rather than on the loss. Lubna was battling with cancer. And her demise happened immediately after the successful Oklahoma festival conducted by the Oklahoma university in the month of February this year.
Belonging to a family which moved from Delhi, Lubna Agha was born in Quetta in the Baluchistan province in 1949 and did her schooling in Karachi. She inherited the flair of art from her mother who was skilled in embroidery. Lubna joined the Mina School of Art, which later came to be renamed 'Karachi School of Art.'She graduated in 1967 and taught at the Imam Ali Central Institute of Art. She got married to art writer Yusuf Agha. Read from the excerpt on how Lubna came to be under the spell of Islamic Art: 'In 2004 Yusuf was invited to Morocco to teach at Al-Akhwayn University. Lubna took short leave of her graphic design position to visit her husband. Together they traveled to Casablanca and marveled at the Òmagnificent King Hassan II mosqueÓ. They visited Marrakesh, Meknes, the ancient city of Fez and Ifrane. In each city the couple walked through and lingered at old madrasas, casbas, riads and the medinas (the Islamic university, the area around the rulers palace, palatial homes, and the market places, respectively). It was the first experience either of them had in North Africa. The following year the couple traveled to Turkey and visited the ancient sites of Ephesus and Capadocia. There Lubna witnessed Greek and Roman and Early Christian ruins. In Istanbul they found lodging in Sultanahmet next the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sofia. On both trips Lubna took hundreds of photos, architecture old and new, and details of painted and carved designs on common, everyday objects.’
‘Photography had long been a passion with Lubna. Photographs were a way to preserve the memory of shapes, forms, colors and historical traditions, but were not taken with the intention of providing models for her art. In choosing what to shoot and framing the scene, Lubna looked closely and carefully at the subject. She noticed that Islamic pillars in Morocco were different from those in South Asia. This was true of other structural elements as well as common objects. She began to realize how much was taken for granted or simply overlooked in oneÕs culture. A desire to inspire a fresh vision of Islamic religious and cultural heritage became Lubna's challenge.
And this challenge would be the inheritance from the ace painter