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“Compared to Other Cities of the Country There is Less Appreciation for Art in KP”

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PESHAWAR: Inspired form the work of his father M.M Bashir, Tasneem Shehzad spent almost three decades celebrating the rich cultural heritage of Peshawar through artwork.

He works on various mediums including watercolor, oil painting and graphics, however, his focus remains on woodblock prints, depicting the rich architecture and lifestyle of Peshawar.

The Woodblock printing is an ancient technique, initially used for stamps and seals. Later on, this was used for book pages and images. “The handicraft wooden work done on the centuries-old architecture of Peshawar is just marvelous,” Shehzad told Nayadaur. ”These houses are like a living museum which needs to be preserved.”

Although most of Shehzad’s work is focused on Peshawar, he also highlighted the natural beauty of northern areas and the heritage of Lahore. With population growth and commercialization, Shehzad seems concerned over the demolishing of old buildings for new constructions in Peshawar. To him, the wooden work done in these dated buildings like Mahla Sethian is indeed very rare, almost impossible to replicate today. To Shehzad, these architectures are assets of Peshawar that should not be wasted by demolishing it; rather good care of it can contribute to furthering the charm of the city.

So far Shehzad has exhibited his work in various countries around the globe, including Italy, France, Germany, United States and Switzerland, where art lovers not only appreciated his work but were also amazed by the heritage of the area.

Graduated from University of Peshawar, for almost 15 years Shehzad ran an art academy in Peshawar, where students learnt from him the art of playing with colours. However, due to financial problems, he moved to the United States two decades back for a better future, where now he runs an art academy in New York.

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“Tasneem Shehzad is one of the finest artists in the wood cutting medium in Pakistan,” says Jahanzeb Malik a well-known artist in Peshawar. “Woodcut prints are a tough medium in art and he is just amazing at it.” Malik says that compared to other cities of the country there is less appreciation for art in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and this is one of the main reasons for artist leaving for other cities.

“People spend millions of rupees on their houses, however, they will not spend a penny on the art,” Malik lamented “When there is no aesthetic sense for art, how will an artist survive?”

Malik recalls his recent three-day exhibition where a single painting wasn’t sold. Malik now will take these paintings to Lahore and Islamabad. To him, the persistent situation is even a point of concern for the new aspirants in the field of art.

Shehzad said that unfortunately, there is no art gallery for artwork in Peshawar, where an artist can exhibit their work. “At least the government should encourage these artists by providing them space where they can showcase their work,” Shaehzad asked the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government.

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