Hamail Art Galleries is exhibiting the collection of Tassaduq Sohail's paintings titled “Dreams Encounters”.

Sohail, who lived and worked in England for four decades and went to Saint Martin’s School of Art in London, is now based in Karachi. Basically he is a short story writer and all his life he did part time jobs rather than exhibiting his art work in galleries. He mostly paints late night in what he calls ‘witching hours’ of night. As a person, he is simple and straight forward, and believes in love, peace and humanity. He has been a nature lover all along.

I visited the gallery and had a chance to meet the artist. At the entrance, I was pulled in the display paintings. For a while, I felt disconnected of my surroundings and bemused in the fantasy. The depiction of flora and fauna with rich intensity took my imagination to the Bhimbetka Cave in ancient time where we find the evidence of primitive human life in South Asia. His landscapes seem to be a journey in a fantasy world which might have existed in the childhood of the artist before the urbanisation of Jullandhar, the Indian city where he was born.

When I mulled over it reminded me of Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s poem, "a Vision in a Dream”, a poem written about the orientalism in which he describes the palace of Xanadu – the summer capital of the Mongol ruler Kublai Khan – and the abundance of flora and fauna beauty over there. Sohail portrays the same beauty of dense, lush greenery of a nature reserve, thick bushes, tall trees with dense foliage and verity of animals and birds. All his paintings are in oils on canvas and they show his observation, connectivity and intimate love for nature.

Being a short story writer, Tassaduq Sohail has remarkable ability to say a lot in very limited space – each panel and its colours tell a story too. He told me, “I express my state of mind, regardless of how it will be interpreted. I have painted around 50,000 paintings and never repeated any painting.” His work is primarily narrative, and is laden with symbols and also has surreal feature. He says he never plans his paintings, he just let it happen and complete them in short spans of time. The treatment of portraits and their expression show the affliction and interest in primitivism that is evident in works of Pablo Picasso as well. Sohail says, “I paint better when I am miserable.” Earthy colours with contrast of dense wild life sceneries keep him connected with his land and identity.

Female figures are one of his most favourite features. In most of his paintings, female back posture presents the human existence in wild life. The artist said, “I love sexuality and I stay single in my life and fully enjoy being alone.” However, conforming to the social norms, he portrays this topic in covered ways. He used to paint in small sizes and in his figurative paintings he divided the canvas into small sections and each portion presents a full story or concept. In this way, he combines different stories with harmony in one painting. His figurative paintings give the glimpse of relief work or sculpture quality. These paintings also give the glint of ancient religious paintings and relief work of Buddhism and Hinduism in South Asia.