ISLAMABAD The other side of the mellow and bright colours is yet another story of agony, despair and desolation. This is what the paintings of impressionist painter Iqbal Hussain suggest to their onlooker. An exhibition of his paintings, arranged by the Pakistan National Council of the Arts (PNCA), was unveiled here at the National Art Gallery Tuesday evening. After a long time, the PNCA could manage to bring a relevant exhibition to its National Art Gallery that is otherwise known for exhibitions sans art. Iqbal Hussain is one of those rare souls who could dare to challenge the ordinary, and bring the bold expression to their canvas. Born in 1950 in the Red-light area, he has successfully painted what he observed with a keen eye before he could embark upon a journey of creative learning. He did his first painting in 1971 depicting the womans melancholic feelings while living in the unwanted residential. Since then his subject has been the oppressed ones from the same area. I paint what haunts me ..... It really does not matter if it sells out or not, says Iqbal Hussain who graduated in 1974 from the National College of Arts (NCA). His 27-year long journey of art teaching ended with no specific reason. But, he may not quit paginating though he had enough of the agony while painting the agony spread over the faces of those who dance and sing almost all their lives to please others, and whose bodies are sold but souls could not. He is termed to be the first one to paint the forbidden subject with all creativity and objectivity. Iqbal Hussain is described as a painter of the obvious and the social peculiarities. He has no hesitation to narrate the stories of his past, so his paintings. He immortalises his subjects who mainly belong to Lahores old walled city, courtesans, dancers and musicians are his forte. His work shows his insights into the darkness, shadows, desolation, melancholy and despair of his subjects. Hussains story is one of a remarkable saga of success where he succeeded in escaping the darker period of his life and emerged as an internationally celebrated and reputable artist. Hussain has participated in several one-man shows and group exhibitions, and has represented Pakistan in International Biennials and exhibitions, and received numerous prestigious awards to his name. Under the guidance of the famous painter Khalid Iqbal, Iqbal Hussain developed an acute sense of observation, his eye sensitive to colour and light, the forms and shapes around him. Hussain has a definitive feel for the richness and density of oil paint. His canvases are varied in size and content. He is a versatile artist and paints both people and places; people with whom he is familiar and places which form a sense of identity for him. By capturing the huddled walled city of Lahore, the banks of the Ravi River, the grandeur of the Badshahi Mosque and the women of the Shahi Mohallah, Hussain has explored natures poetic qualities and lifes bitter realities. A fascinating quality about Hussains painted figures is that they are not portrayed as objects of desire but as women who are aware of their surroundings, their situation and environment. The overwhelming impressions, which these women express, are that of sadness and tragedy, and Hussain does not romanticise them at all. The result is a body of realistic work that is compelling, powerful, intense and haunting. In contrast to this Hussain paints his landscapes in romantic hues of dusty pinks and soft hues of blue. Being an impressionist and a realist at the same time highlights his multifaceted talents as an artist.