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Bountiful heart from Karachi, artist Jimmy Engineer is here once again

Jimmy Engineer, globally renowned Pakistani artist and humanist, is now in Sri Lanka on a goodwill visit.

A peaceful campaigner and crusader for the disabled, mentally handicapped, the impoverished and the oppressed in his country, Jimmy Engineer's first visit here was eight years ago, in August 2004. He stayed in the island for three weeks, playing host to more than 700 special children through his favourite ‘Fun Camp and Food’ events partly funded by him with earnings from his paintings and partly by the Union Bank of Pakistan.


Jimmy Engineer showing his artistic talents.

At these events, the children were sumptuously treated with good food, entertained with song, music and participatory dance and games in friendly surroundings at five leading hotels in Colombo, Kandy and in several other suburban towns.

Painting series

A unique artist, Jimmy has created his aesthetic vocabulary sourced by his own inner vision. He says: ‘My inspiration was addressed by nature. Sometimes I was motivated by children I saw in the streets, also people who were suffering and those who had nothing in their lives. Without inspiration, I could not paint’.

Among the numerous themes he has chosen for his paintings, nature in its many forms and moods, architecture and calligraphy stand out besides his unique painting series on partition of the sub-continent, also known as Freedom Movement series and the gigantic mural based on the poet and philosopher Muhammad Iqbal's epic poem The Javid Nama.

Human dignity

His many walks for humanitarian causes have taken him over the length and breadth of his country in pursuit of diverse objectives mostly to promote human rights and human dignity, enhancement of quality of life and creation of an equitable civil society in Pakistan. He has led walks against child labour, on cancer prevention, on mental health, on eradicating leprosy and for promoting peace between Pakistan and India - to mention only a few.

Jimmy's Freedom Movement painting series depict the mayhem, bloodshed and the brutalities erupted with the partition of the sub continent in 1947 when Hindu refugees raced South to India and Muslims headed North to the newly created state of Pakistan.

Original paintings

The paintings are the recreations of the images which had first appeared as nightmares to him for years in his adolescence. In one of these frightful dreams he saw himself as a victim of a train attack.


Jimmy Engineer

As the partitioning and the resultant violence had occurred years before the artist was born, Engineer had asked a Sufi master to interpret his dreams. (Followers of the inner mystical dimension of Islam are known as Sufis.)

Moment of madness

His interpretation was that nature could be preparing him to paint the episodes to educate the people that such things do happen, but they should not happen again. When he was 19, Engineer began painting the series that made his name in Pakistan.

The work is striking in its detail, with mostly muted colours. One shows masses of refugees resting under a tree, another a caravan under attack in what the artist describes as a moment of madness.

A smaller work shows a group fleeing a burning village. One of these original paintings is in the National Gallery in Islamabad, and a print of the work is displayed in Pakistan's Parliament.

A coffee table book on the work and life of the artist authored by Marjorie Hussein, an eminent art writer/ critic of Pakistan was launched among a large gathering of art savvies in Karachchi on January 27, this year. The volume is titled ‘In Search of My Master’.

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