ISLAMABAD – The first ever painting exhibition ‘Colours of Democracy’ was inaugurated here Thursday at Parliament House displaying the works of 24 leading painters depicting country’s maturing parliamentary democracy.

Speaker National Assembly Dr Fehmida Mirza inaugurated the unique event held to commemorate the completion of fourth parliamentary year and beginning of fifth and last parliamentary year of the present National Assembly. All 24 artists from across the country gifted their masterpieces of art worth Rs 1.65 million to the Parliament to beautify its building and bridge a gap between the art world and the Parliament.

Addressing the exhibition, the Speaker said the democratic struggle in Pakistan has always remained under the strong influence of verses from Faiz and Jalib and strokes of Shakir Ali, Nagi, Zubaida Agha and Laila Shahzada. She said even an otherwise affluent painter like Gull Jee, when picked pebbles to translate Faiz’s Sheeshoun ka Maseeha’, he ended up painting Bhutto.

“Such strong anecdotes of our history however, have long remained missing from the corridors of power. An evident disconnect between the art world and parliament is reflected from the barren walls of its building,” she remarked.

Although Fehmida Mirza said, some of the leading maestros were duly involved in the initial renovation when Jamal Shah’s terracotta work and few paintings of Gull Jee were brought, this remained largely an exception.

“Politics was too crude to appreciate the finer details of art,” she commented adding the credit goes to the 13th National Assembly that has corrected the overdue errors of the past in shape of 18th, 19th and 20th amendment. The first ever group painting show is another daring step that showcases the spirit and zeal of our people in long pursuit to freedom, social justice and democracy, besides displaying the fruits of democracy.

The speaker hoped that the partnership between art world and parliament will grow in other vista of art and literature as well, mentioning to the establishment of a souvenir shop in Parliament House. “We are also looking into possibilities of developing post cards on the existing art in the Parliament and the proceeds from the sale of these cards can be utilised for buying more artworks for the building,” she said.

Among the painters whose work was displayed at the exhibition included late Rauf Khalid, Ahmad Habib, Ajab Khan, Altaf Ahmed, Arif Khan, Aqeel Solangi, Azeem Iqbal, Azeemullah Babar, Farrah Adnan, Hajra Mansoor, Mansoor Rahi, Mashkoor Raza, Ali Bhatti, Muhammad Shafiq, Nahida Raza, Natalia Tariq, Tariq Kakar, Raja Najam, Rasheed Butt, Najam Kazmi, Ali Abbas, Tahir Bin Qalandar, Tariq Javed and Wasi Hayder. Deputy Speaker Faisal Karim Kundi, Minister for Information and Broadcasting Qamar Zaman Kaira, Minister for Information Technology Pervaiz Ashraf and dozens of parliamentarians visited the exhibition and lauded painters’ works.