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The obscure artist
By Jonaid Iqbal
Nadir Aman, a self-schooled painter from Passu, Gojal in upper Hunza now living in Skardu, has dedicated his life to painting the rugged features of the Gilgit-Baltistan folks whose entire lives are spent combating the fierce forces of nature.
There is the face of a porter with thick lines reflecting the strain of many years of living the life of a coolie carrying burdens of visiting adventurers to K-2 or Gasherbrum. He is quite like Sherpa Tenzing, but without the recognition accorded him. Unruffled, he goes on guiding and carrying eatables, goods and equipment for mountaineers as they climb from base camp to layers upon layers of high ridges.
Unlike most painters, Nadir Aman sketches the faces while people go about their daily chores. He does not ask his model to sit as a study as most painters are wont to do, to catch the sharpness of the characters they are studying. Adept at catching facial nuances, he translates the joys and sorrow of his ‘models’ into an artistic study, though he still does not even own a work studio.
Nadir is in his early 50s and is often seen in his odd socks, covered with paint as he works. And while as yet undiscovered by a formal art organization, he can proudly claim to have a vast collection of his profile etchings and murals — he has painted more than 50 so far. And though he hasn’t even had any national exposure as such, his paintings which are often done in rich colours, are regularly carried by the local weekly newspapers of the area where he hails from. For his admirers, his work seems to emanate a spirituality which oozes from the breathtaking scenes of the buttercup fields and where the water flows down from the majestic mountains of the North.
While Nadir Aman lives peacefully amid the mountains now, happily spending time with his family of four children, he was once an activist crusading to abolish the Hunza state, when he was still a student in Karachi.