Brilliant news! I spoke with Jimmy Engineer yesterday. An enormously talented Pakistani artist and humanitarian, someone often described as a national treasure, Jimmy is particularly well-known for his stunning series of paintings about the partition of India in 1947. Jimmy has consented to let us use his minutely detailed, vivid paintings in order to bring the trauma of partition to life. During our conversation, he said that he evaded some of the more gruesome scenes of partition because he is more interested in healing, in giving hope to younger generations. We are honored to collaborate with someone of Jimmy Engineer’s stature and talent.
An artist of renown, Jimmy is famous for his enormous, sprawling canvases, in particular his series on the Partition of India, where literally hundreds of figures are discernable, all caught up in a violent, heart breaking migration across a nation riven with religious conflict.
In ‘Refugees Resting Under a Tree in 1947,’ a 7ft by 5ft canvas painted in 1977, the eye must first take in the throng of humanity in motion, each section offering its own small tableau. First look at the old man being pulled to his feet by a father with a child on his shoulders, the woman clutching her son, eyes dilated in fright, the wounded man borne in the arms of another, the man driving his cart determinedly through the crowd, another on foot carrying the flag of Pakistan.
Now, look deeper into the painting, past this swatch of land thick with suffering people, to the shadows of thousands more walking behind, look deeper to where an overburdened train rumbles along the rails. Can you see the men dangling from its roof, determined to join the thousands already clinging to every surface? The eye cannot hope to take it all in, in a single glance or even several. Jimmy’s paintings contain entire worlds.
Jimmy says the Partition paintings came to him in dreams, their accuracy unnerving to people who had actually lived through the times. His nightmares deprived him of sleep and lingered in his waking hours and he felt compelled to put them to canvas.
Read the entire article in the Sunday Times, Sri Lanka, here.