Preview: Exhibition: Letters from India

Anwar Shemza

Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, Today to Feb 1

This collection of work by the South Asian artist begins with the lust for anything of Indian influence from the Sixties and ends with blending it with Eighties Western culture.

"There are now two generations of non-Western settlers. Anwar represents the first generation," says Reyahn King, Curator at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery. "Now people are very aware of the second generation - with artists like Chris Ofili and Anish Kapoor - moving beyond group exhibitions, and towards recognising individuals. It is important to stress that this exhibition is happening as much because Shemza is an important local - but under recognised - artist as much as for political reasons. This is not a tokenist show, it is about good art."

arrived in England from Pakistan in 1956 to join the Slade Art School. He fell in love and stayed in England after finding that he couldn't earn enough money as a teacher in Pakistan.

It was during this time that Shemza became well known, exhibiting alongside artists like Yves Klein and F N Souza at Gallery 1. His paintings concentrated on developing form and line towards a linear style, an abstraction that combined Islamic influences through calligraphy, often using letters like the Roman B and D or the S-curve. This was popular Western abstract art (as typified in Yves Klein's kaleidoscopic and geometric designs), and Islamic detail inspired from the intricacy of Mogul architecture.

"One day I locked myself in my room, stood in front of a mirror and had a heart-to-heart talk. It was a bitter experience. The result was the decision to start again from the beginning. And to hide the face of that `celebrated' artist, I grew a beard," said Shemza, referring to his choice in the 1970's to withdraw from the commercial art scene and concentrate upon teaching. However, he carried on in a similar idiom, whilst also producing a series of drawings with a Paul Klee-like expression of the mind.

His final series - from 1977 until his death in 1985 - enabled Shemza to find a final and happy marriage between his experience of Western and non-Western culture, answering his earlier realisation that: "No longer was the answer simply to begin again; the search was for my own identity".

, at the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, Chamberlain Square, Birmingham (0121-303 2834). Free entry. There will also be a programme of events, including talks, readings and traditional music.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This caravan dealership are currently recruiti...

    Recruitment Genius: Invoicing Clerk

    £14500 - £17500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company are contractors to...

    Recruitment Genius: Executive Administrator / Marketing Assistant

    £20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading supplier of packag...

    Recruitment Genius: Trainee Field Sales - OTE £30,000

    £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is a rapidly expanding offi...

    Day In a Page

    Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

    'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

    If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
    The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

    The science of swearing

    What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
    Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

    Africa on the menu

    Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
    Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

    Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

    The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
    10 best statement lightbulbs

    10 best statement lightbulbs

    Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
    Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

    Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

    Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
    Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

    Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

    It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
    Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

    Dustin Brown

    Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
    Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

    Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

    Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test
    Tour de France 2015: Twins Simon and Adam Yates have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

    Twins have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

    Yates brothers will target the steepest sections in bid to win a stage in France
    John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

    Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

    'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
    Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

    Forget little green men

    Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
    Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

    Dying dream of Doctor Death

    Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy