Today marks the 32nd death anniversary of painter Allah Buksh. He was one of the prominent artists of pre-partition. He painted popular scenes of Hindu Mythology. He maintained his own distinctive, romantic style, and painted Pakistan folk stories such as HeerRanjha, SohniMahiwal and different festivals and seasons. He died on October 18, 1978.
He was born in Wazirabad in 1885. By the age fourteen Buksh had become an accomplished signboard painter. He worked as a carriage painter for Mughalpura Railway and as a scene painter for Agha Hasher Kashmiri’s theatrical company.
In 1914 he went to Bombay, where he was employed as a photographer, retouch artist and portrait and landscape painter at the Bombay Art Studio. After returning to Lahore in 1919, he became a fine art painter who supported himself as a commercial artist.
In 1923, Allah Buksh ignored commercial art totally and participated in the important annual Bombay and Calcutta art exhibitions and was awarded the top honors.
Allah Buksh’s beautiful work caught the eye of the maharajah of Patiala and in 1937, he lived and worked in Patiala then he moved to Lahore where he remained rest of his life.
After partition he portrayed the landscape of the Punjab. His work gained a lot of popularity and in great demand both at home and abroad.
The National Art Gallery has a large number of beautiful artworks in different mediums. He was an informally trained painter whose first personal exhibition was staged in Lahore in 1903. In 1960, he was awarded the Tamgha-e-Pakistan.
Allah Bakhsh’s first personal exhibition was staged in Lahore in 1903. Between 1904 and 1932, Allah Bakhsh taught and painted. He belonged to the older generation of traditionalist artists, trained in the traditions of the Mughal School of miniature and ancient Indian wall paintings.
Allah Bakhsh’s works depict the history and culture of the peoples of the Punjab. His trademark is a clearly defined main figure, both in his portraits and his genre scenes, with many figures against the background of a landscape stressing the subject’s mood.
The way the Ustad positions some figures, as if they are going beyond the frame, gives the impression that the figure is in action. Also characteristic of Allah Bakhsh’s works is a richness of color scheme, always in tune with the nature of the action.
Light modeling of faces and the use of deep shadows in his figure painting makes the Ustad’s art somewhat similar to wall paintings. He painted portraits in the ‘realistic’ manner: his male images are monumental, while the female ones (in the best traditions of the miniature) are very feminine and beautiful.
Some of the main works of Allah Bakhsh are A Poet in the Garden, The Blind Singer, Ploughing with Oxen, and In the Family of Weavers.