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Mansoor Rahi

Mansoor Rahi is a famous Pakistani Artist born in 1939 in West Bengal. Mansoor Rahi is the leading abstractionist painter of Pakistan and his teaching and influence have led to the emergence of a larger number of prominent artists than any other teacher artist.

When he came to Karachi in 1963, soon after graduating from the Arts college at Dhaka, he was still doing water color painting in a light impressionist style.  Earlier, he had completed his matriculation in Dhaka from Raj Shahi School. Later on he moved to Karachi in 1964 and made it his home till 1983.

Mansoor Rahi Paintings

Mansoor Rahi had the privilege of having two eminent art teachers, Mohammed Kibria, a noted artist, and Abdul Razaq. However Zainul Abedin who was the principle of the institute remained a lifelong inspiration to Mansoor Rahi and impacted his painting in the following years. Mansoor paints with the same passion as he did when he surfaced on the art scene of what was then West Pakistan in the late 1960s.

Popular series of Mansoor Rahi paintings

  • Rahi’s Grey Genesis Series
  • Wild Horse Series
  • World Food Crisis,
  • Soul in Hell
  • and Struggle for Achievement

In earlier years of his career Mansoor Rahi caught eye for cubism paintings and adopted the discipline in his paintings. It is clearly dominant in his previous series. However Mansoor Rahi painting style has changed on various stages of his life. From 1969, his style changed, though it was evolving in the same direction. When he moved to Islamabad The heavy thematic content, the philosophical ideas and the tragic feelings were greatly reduced Mansoor enjoyed the mountain areas, although thematic content they did not quite vanish from his work because they were a part of his mental makeup.

The growing terrorism has tormented him to such an extent that it finds expressions in all his paintings. His series called ‘The Raging Bull’, done in oil on canvas, last year, has yielded place to a yet more sinister series — ‘The Black Terror’. Both the series have been appreciated by critics and art lovers alike. Figurative Cubism involves a fracturing of form along with its subsequent realignment into diminutive planes. Rahi’s several paintings show an affinity with the work of Picasso and Braque in depicting a conceptual rather than perceptual view of nature.

In the mid-’60s when he decided to settle down in Karachi, he ran into the Zuberi sisters who were trying to establish the Karachi School of Art in Nazimabad and needed not just a good teacher but also someone who could take over as the principal. Rahi later became the principle.

Rahi’s paintings and drawings depict abstraction yet the visual imagery remains representational, which marks another difference between his early work in Karachi and his later work in Islamabad.


Awards and Government Recognition

  • 1961 First Price Govt. College of Art & Craft, Dhaka
  • 1969 First Price All Pakistan National Exhibition (PNCA)
  • 1974 First Price Asian Art Expo sponsored by ILO
  • 1981 First Price All Pakistan National Exhibitions (PNCA)
  • 1987 Shakir Ali Award 1st International Biennale Show (PNCA)
  • 2008 Pride of Performance Pakistani President Awarded
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