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Goblets II

Goblets II
signed and dated in Urdu (lower left); further signed twice and dated twice 'A J Shemza 1963 Shemza 1963' (on the reverse)
ink on Japansese handmade paper laid on card
27 5/8 x 19¾ in. (70.2 x 50.2 cm.)
Executed in 1963

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Deepanjana Klein
Deepanjana Klein

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Lot Essay

Anwar Jalal Shemza was a modernist pioneer both in his native Pakistan and later in the United Kingdom, exhibiting with Francis Newton Souza and Avinash Chandra in London at Gallery One in 1960. Shemza graduated from the Mayo School of Art in Lahore in 1947 and his modernist engagement already manifested itself in the early 1950s when he founded the Lahore Art Circle, a group who championed abstraction of forms in painting. Shemza's arrival in London to study at the Slade School of Art in 1956 heralded an existential crisis in terms of his own artistic and cultural identity. Shemza remarked, "[...] the search was for my own identity [...] The simple answer was; A Pakistani [...] I was an exile, homeless, without a name." (A. J. Shemza cited in, Iftikhar Dadi, 'Anwar Jalal Shemza, Calligraphic Abstraction', Perspectives 1, Green Cardamom, London, 2009, p. 3) Inspired by the Slade School of Art and the Eastern collections of the British Museum, Shemza sought a transcultural aesthetic. Distilling East and West, Shemza's Goblets II fuses calligraphy and geometry into modular totems which pulsate with primitive potency. Stradling both abstraction and figuration the schema incorporates shapes from the Roman alphabet to construct architectonic goblets, like visceral visual puzzles.

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