Pakistani Artist Ali Hammad makes it to the Sotheby’s

Hina Khan Palwasha

Ali Hammad is the only painter from Pakistan to mark third place in the figurative category of the 15th International ARC Salon Competition. His work will be displayed at the Sotheby’s, a British-founded American multinational corporation headquartered in New York City and one of the world’s largest brokers of fine and decorative art, jewelry, real estate, and collectibles.

One of his paintings titled “The Bird Catcher” stood third place winner in figurative category of 15th ARC Salon while the other titled “The Trophy” made it to the honorable mention.

The Bird Catcher by Ali Hammad
The Trophy by Ali Hammad

“A certain great painter had once said that a beautiful sunrise remains always beautiful for us. It simply leads one into the world of aesthetic joy, the joy that never ends. Rather its loveliness increases day by day as the time rolls on. John Keats the English poet perhaps was right in saying that a thing of beauty is a joy forever. It gives us strange sensations in blood the question is what moment a certain work of art has stopped giving us joy. Music, when soft voices die, promises to live in the memory. Similarly a simple object or a moment or a sight done in a delicate way through multifarious colors gives new joy everyday. Thus the pursuit of this aesthetic pleasure led me towards, like the great masters, creating such works of art” says Ali Hammad.

This was the very reason that made Ali to preserve the great legacy of the great painters like Sorolla, Sargent, Rembrandt, Solomon J Solomon or even Ilya Repin to follow their footsteps as their names would remain indelibly etched in the minds of the art lovers.

“Its a piece of art in the shape of the great painting that promises us hope and joy in this challengeable world. A realistic art piece, with no symbolic meaning given to it, presents a simple naked beauty like that of Venus. May we say, a shot of adrenalin in the blood. Painting straight away is a problem solving activity by the time you dip your brush into the paint and apply it to the mute, blank canvas. Thus a work of art according to the great Russian artist can be labelled as deep as the autumn leaves”, he admits.

Up till now Ali has exhibited his work in various groups as well as solo exhibitions. Notable exhibitions include his solo exhibition in 2016 titled “In pursuit of light” at Ejaz art gallery, Lahore, Pakistan and a group exhibition at “The Big Picture” art exhibition at Pro-Art gallery Dubai. He has also worked as one of the portrait painters among seven from across the Middle East for the Late His Highness Sheikh Zayed Portrait Workshop under the patronage of Sheikh Sultan Bin Zayed.

Ali Hammad, the second child of his parents, was born in 1985 at Quetta, Pakistan. Reared coincidently in a happy favorable circumstance where in his father (an English Professor) filled in with valuable and inspiring knowledge on art and literature. With the passage of time Ali’s appetite for drawing and painting whetted further. He ultimately was able to win a scholarship for the renowned National College of Arts, Lahore. He completed his graduation brilliantly in four years appended with “honor”. Ali from his childhood developed a penchant towards Old Masters. Art was something he loved the most. At college he explored different subjects like sculpture, drawing, art history design etc. A place where modern art was taught and practiced, Ali Hammad carried great interest for realism which went diametrically oppose to the existing vogue in drawing and painting . It was a challenging journey, he recalls, where he felt himself an anomaly. He graduated in 2006, magna cum laude and started his real journey in art. His aim has always been to explore the possibilities of paint, to make beautiful brushstrokes, to explore different tactile qualities and to seek the truth. The works of the masters like Rembrandt, Velasquez, Ilya Repin has always fascinated him. Constantly learning and getting better at how to paint like the masters with the delicate play of light and shade called Chiaroscuro remained his metier. He believes that learning is universal and making any kind of art without learning, is only limited. He has worked till now as an artist in United Arab Emirates, where teaching and studio practice keeps him busy. His still life’s which he usually terms “a quiet magic” as well as the figurative paintings both remain a strong passion with him. The renowned art collectors always look to him for his new pieces. 

Holy Grail by Ali Hammad

According to him his present status as a painter entails an arduous involvement with his work well over the years. he reached to the conclusion that only hard work, and scouring the libraries on the art of painting, it certainly required a very keen observation of life and nature. It also required him to use the eye of the lynx to observe all the artwork done by the great masters, specially observing how they effected nuances in their works. The whole journey for him has been like the sailing in a paddle boat up the creek. The journey never ends for him as they say, Ars longa life brevis est—art is long, life is short. One life time is not enough to express the unending facets or possibilities this cosmos offers.

When asked about how he felt about making his way to the Sotheby’s, he said “To surpass such an amazing talent from around the globe and stand as one of the winners in the figurative category of the 15th ARC Salon competition is a matter of great pride and joy for me and for my beloved Country Pakistan. I was absolutely overjoyed and thrilled to hear this news. The 3rd place winning painting “The Bird Catcher” tells the story of a young African man who rescued the dying bird. The picture also carries a symbolical meaning. We humans are all bird catchers looking for opportunities, getting one is like catching a bird. I am very grateful to the ARC team for acknowledging the work and for bringing it to the spotlight.”

Light of Serenity by Ali Hammad