Miniature painter returns to familys old backyard

For S.M. Mansoor, the visit to Patiala is like coming back to his roots. ''My forefathers ' Ustad Allah Ditta and Bashharat Ullah ' were court painters of the Patiala 'darbar' and it was this training in Patiala Gharana which enabled my grandfather Haji Mohammad Sharif to be acknowledged as the 'national painter' of Pakistan.

Mansoor has not only retained the best in Patiala Gharana of miniature paintings but has also taken the process a step further. While retaining the best in the classical tradition, he has related his miniature art to the life of the ordinary man and the present times. 'It was the necessity of the day to take miniature art out of the court and relate it to the man on the street,' he says, adding the innovations have neither altered formal shapes nor features of miniature elements.

The miniature artist would, however, like to go even more forward. 'I want to modernise the miniature art form,' he says, adding he had chosen to come to India because of the thriving modern art movement in the country.

'I chose Patiala because of my family's close association with the former princely State,' he adds.

Speaking about the state of art in Pakistan, he says calligraphic art had dominated the art scene after the formation of the Pakistan, adversely affecting other art forms. He said figurative, modern and miniature art, however, got a breath of life during the regime of Benazir Bhutto and has prospered further in present times.

Speaking about his art, Mansoor says he is using bold colours and using innovations like decorated borders with vivid contrasts to arrest the attention of the viewers.

The artist says, besides this his art, he tries to imbibe the traditional values and project them in appropriate light. This for him is very important as it means change without changing the core of the tradition.

The artist is here with his wife, Razia, who says she is delighted to be back in her husband's former backyard.

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