Like all other countries, art is reflective of the rich culture of Pakistan. And when few talk of art, one of the names that significantly stand tall is that of Abdul Rehman Chughtai. Chughtai is known for his artful watercolour paintings with his very own unique style. His paintings are so close to reality with natural colours that one is simply spell bound and lost into the beautiful colours and brush strokes.
Born 21st of September 1899 in the old city of Lahore, Chughtai was a graduate of the famous Mayo School of Art (now the National College of Arts, Lahore). Later he had been the head-instructor in chromo-lithography at the same school. During the late 1930s, Chughtai's work contributed greatly to the energetic modern art scene that was burgeoning in pre-partition Lahore.
The work of Chughtai was greatly inspired by the Mughal miniature art and “Naqsh (patterns of Islamic decorative arts.” His subject matter included heroes and heroines of Islamic history, Mughal kings and queens, and particularly from the episodes of Punjabi, Persian and Indo-Islamic folklores. Chughtai’s paintings usually have a female character, which long pointed features dressed in the tradition attire of the region. His famous “Muraqqa-e-Chughtai”, published in 1927, is a collection of paintings based on the poetry of Ghalib, which in fact is the transformation of literature into the finest piece of art, especially in the unparallel watercolours by Chughtai.
His works are displayed at the British Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Peace Palace (in The Hague), United Nations Headquarters, New York, the Kennedy Memorial in Boston, the US State Department (in Washington, D.C.), President's House Bonn, Nizam of Hyderabad’s Palace, Queen Juliana's Palace in the Netherlands, Emperor's Palace Bangkok, President House Islamabad, Governors’ Houses in Lahore and Karachi, and the National Art Gallery, Islamabad. Allama Iqbal, Pablo Picasso, Queen Elizabeth II were amongst his great admirers.
Chughtai also designed a number of postage stamps of Pakistan from 1949 to 1960s, including the first postage stamp issued in 1949. .On the independence day of 1951, he produced a set of 9 stamps, internationally known as Chughtai Art set, was considered as the most beautiful stamps of the world at that time. Among his famous works are the logos of Pakistan Television and Radio Pakistan. One of the most successful UNICEF cards also features Chughtai.
He was awarded Pakistan's Hilal-i-Imtiaz in 1960, and a Gold Medal in 1964 for his accomplishments by the West Germany. He died in Lahore on January 17, 1975.
See more of Chughtai’s work at: Pakistanpaedia