Untitled (Composition) is a seminal example of Anwar Jelal Shemza’s series of paintings composed almost entirely of visual structures using the letters B, D and perhaps C. The repetition of the letters adds a meditative character to the work.
“His art is more than a fusion of styles based upon a personal crisis. Rather, the artist picked elements from his own culture and European culture where they best suited his artistic aims […] Shemza also brought to these works an Islamic mystical interest in the use of geometric relationships to express the nature of the universe.” (Anwar Shemza, exhibition catalogue, Birmingham, 1997, p. 9)
The influence of Paul Klee’s compositions inspired by alphabets and Piet Mondrian’s approach towards destructive elements in art are clear in the present work. Shemza based his paintings on simplified forms drawn from three dimensional solid figures and Mughal architecture, and motifs found in intricately woven patterns of oriental rugs and calligraphy. Shemza was a creative polymath; in addition to his art, he published several Urdu novels such as Sotey Jagtey as well as collections of poetry such as Kissa Kahani and wrote a number of plays, which were performed on Radio Pakistan in the 1950s.