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Anwar Shemza

Solo show at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery. 1997 - 1998
Date: 12 November, 1997 until 1 February, 1998
Curator: Reyahn King
Organiser: Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery

Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery mounted a retrospective of Shemza’s work, curated by Reyahn King. Held between 12 November 1997 and 1 February 1998, the exhibition was called simply, Anwar Shemza.  From the exhibition, Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery acquired ‘The Wall’, one of Shemza’s ‘Love Letter’ prints, as well as ‘Meem’ print for its permanent collection.

The exhibition came with an important and very useful catalogue, which included a Foreword by Graham Allen, Assistant Director, Museums and Arts. From the Foreword:

“This exhibition presents to the public art which engages the viewer in a dialogue. Bold abstract shapes and strong colours challenge us to react. Intricate patterns and mysterious lines suggestive of architecture, plants, love letters or even dreams fascinate us and hold our attention. Part of the mystery in Anwar Shemza’s work stems from the unique mix of different cultures that he brought to his art. Trained at Mayo School of Art in Lahore, he settled in Stafford in 1962 where he taught and practised art until his death in 1985. This exhibition celebrtates more than this local significance however for Shemza was an important modern artist.

This is the first retrospective exhibition of Anwar Shemza’s work and shows the full range of his art. Shemza’s works are best known for their lyrical motifs and calligraphic style taken from Islamic and Asian culture but he had also pioneered western ideas of abstraction in Pakistan. The works on display demonstrate Shemza’s range of techniques and his extraordinary skill in the production of drawings, paintings and prints, often using handmade materials.

The exhibition should appeal to everyone interested in twentieth-century art and abstraction, in Islamic and Asian art, and in printmaking. It should also remind us that modern art is the product of individuals who, like most of us today, are influenced by many cultures. Shemza’s motifs and inspiration, taken from both Asia and Europe, produced an art that, through its fusion, is universal in its appeal whilst bearing the individual stamp of a passionate and dedicated artist.”

The exhibition contained some 69 items, including sketchbooks and silver items of jewellery from Pakistan, bought there by the artist, in 1962.

Related items

click to show details of Anwar Shemza

»  Anwar Shemza

Catalogue relating to an exhibition, 1997

People in this exhibition

»  Anwar Jalal Shemza

Born, 1928 in Simla, India. Died, 1985

Exhibition venues

»  Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery

Birmingham, United Kingdom

Anwar Shemza

Catalogue relating to an exhibition, 1997
Published by: Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery
Year published: 1997
Number of pages: 32

image of Anwar Shemza

Catalogue for Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery’s retrospective of Anwar Shemza’s work, curated by Reyahn King. Held between 12 November 1997 and 1 February 1998, the exhibition was called simply, Anwar Shemza

The exhibition came with an important and very useful catalogue, with monochrome reproductions of Shemza’s work. The catalogue Foreword was written by Graham Allen, Assistant Director, Museums and Arts. From the Foreword: “This exhibition presents to the public art which engages the viewer in a dialogue. Bold abstract shapes and strong colours challenge us to react. Intricate patterns and mysterious lines suggestive of architecture, plants, love letters or even dreams fascinate us and hold our attention. Part of the mystery in Anwar Shemza’s work stems from the unique mix of different cultures that he brought to his art. Trained at Mayo School of Art in Lahore, he settled in Stafford in 1962 where he taught and practised art until his death in 1985. This exhibition celebrates more than this local significance however for Shemza was an important modern artist. This is the first retrospective exhibition of Anwar Shemza’s work and shows the full range of his art. Shemza’s works are best known for their lyrical motifs and calligraphic style taken from Islamic and Asian culture but he had also pioneered western ideas of abstraction in Pakistan. The works on display demonstrate Shemza’s range of techniques and his extraordinary skill in the production of drawings, paintings and prints, often using handmade materials.

The exhibition should appeal to everyone interested in twentieth-century art and abstraction, in Islamic and Asian art, and in printmaking. It should also remind us that modern art is the product of individuals who, like most of us today, are influenced by many cultures. Shemza’s motifs and inspiration, taken from both Asia and Europe, produced an art that, through its fusion, is universal in its appeal whilst bearing the individual stamp of a passionate and dedicated artist.”

The exhibition/catalogue were dedicated “To Tasveer and Hannah Shemza”

Note on page 1 of the catalogue as follows: “Eddie  With Best wishes, Reyahn  Note that cats nos. (6) The Wall, (31) Meen and a Love Letter were acquired in 1998 for Birmingham Museum + Art Gallery collection.”

Contents as follows: 

Reproduction of The Wall 1958 (cat. no. 6)hh

Foreword,  Graham Allen, Assistant Director, Museums and Arts

Essay, Anwar Shemza, Reyahn King, Curator (Prints and Drawngs)

Catalogue of Works

Selected Bibliography

The essay was illustrated with a range of images of Shemza’s work.

Related people

»  Anwar Jalal Shemza

Born, 1928 in Simla, India. Died, 1985

Related exhibitions

»  Anwar Shemza

Solo show at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery. 1997 - 1998

Related venues

»  Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery

Birmingham, United Kingdom