A true artist never leads life on barometers and calculations
By Beenish Abdullah
Noted artist and teacher Fatah Halepoto was born on Dec 13, 1938 at Kazi Ahmed, district Nawabshah (now Benazirabad).
His family migrated to Dadu in 1942 and settled there. In his school age, he was very fond of playing cricket and this fond snatched his one leg forever in 1956. Due to this, his studies got stopped and a series of tireless efforts began in his life.
In 1961, he came to Hyderabad for one year training at Art Teachers’ training centre Hyderabad and completed his one year training with second division.
Later he completed his education during his service. He passed matriculation in 1973 and intermediate in 1976, he did graduation in 1979 from City College, Hyderabad. He was appointed as art teacher in district Dadu in 1962.
He tried a lot to do MA but he could not due to financial problems and physical disability. He was very keen to join National College of Arts Lahore but again economic pressure and physical disability blackened his one more dream.
He also filled so many scholarship forms to go abroad for higher education but could not succeed because of his straightforward nature he never adopted flattery means to go abroad. He was called back by Art Teachers' Training Centre Hyderabad in 1972 to educate teachers. After serving this institution for a long time, he took retirement in 1998.
Since 1998, He has been working as free lance painter/artist. He got married in 1989 and has three daughters.
He has organized his several painting exhibitions at national and provincial level. He also taught at Mehran Centre of Excellence for Art and Design for some time. He has been teaching many students privately without charging any fee and has given so many big painters to Pakistan.
Fatah is not only an artist and teacher but symbol of courage which teaches us how to live with all odds.
Q: Is painting just satisfaction of aesthetic sense or can it also be used for the reformation of society?
A: Yes, definitely painting can be used for the reformation of society. I myself have used it as reformation tool. I satisfy my aesthetic sense as well but I also keep on thinking that how my skill can serve the society. Similarly I also keep in view art’s commercial aspect because it’s important. Aesthetic sense is first preference but your belly also requires food. So, both must go hand in hand. But just to paint for the sake of earning money is exploitation of art. Well, a true artist never lead life on barometers, measurements or calculations.
Q: To what extent, you are satisfied with the compensations received by the painters for their paintings in Pakistan?
A: I am adequately satisfied with the rewards received by the painters but not fully. Because if here I charge 10,000 for my one painting, then people argue that what will they do of a piece of paper by buying it for Rs10,000? Aesthetic sense is lacking here. I am not talking about those people who even can’t earn food for three times. How a hungry person can think of aesthetics? But I am talking about those who have money but they don’t have taste. Such people are just machines of making money. So in Pakistan’s big cities like Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad art is very popular and hence compensations for art are also good there but not overall. So that’s why painters prefer to exhibit their paintings abroad because a painting which is hardly sold for Rs50,000 here can easily be sold in for Rs200000 in foreign countries. But nevertheless, as compared to yester times, artists in Pakistan are getting good rewards now.
Q: To what extent, a painter’s personal life and circumstances affect his imagination as well as his paintings?
A: Personal life does matter. If an artist paints something but he’s not acting upon that in his personal life then in my view that painting is useless. Painter should not have a dual personality. A genuine and true artist never betrays or hurts anyone. The respect and reverence of his creation is that his personal life must have some compatibility with his creations. If a painter's own life is very tragic then it doesn't mean that his paintings reflect tragedies only. But one must try to paint the positive lessons got from the tragedies of life because our paintings are our message to society.
Q: Is painting just a God gifted ability or can it be learned by proper training?
A: Firstly talent and then its polishing are important to become a successful painter. But everyone does not come out after becoming something from an institution. If you take a fine arts department, then everyone do not come out as leaned and skilled painter. They just study and memorize like a parrot, but they do not have a creative approach. I never try to impose my style on my students. I just give them a base on which they prepare their own buildings. I try to find out that what ability they have got regarding painting and then appreciate and polish that. That’s how painting can be learned.
Q: Do you feel that in current glamorized and fast era, admiration and attention of people towards painting has been decreased due to presence of many other sources of entertainments?
A: Yes this is fact. If we talk about current situation, boys and girls are blindly running behind glamour. Even some artists are also doing the same drama. But the artists of my age like Gul Jee never did this drama. Now youngsters are following the previous painters. But the achievement is not to become a painter, but achievement is to make your place in 1000 painters so that people wait for your creations that where is that painter's work, his paintings are always marvelous. But in my early childhood, I was very fond of painting birds, butterflies, and natural scenes. But when I became mature, then I also worked on communism. Then in my professional period, I worked on many social issues.
These days our youngsters are a in glamorization and easy going shortcuts to achieve their goals.
Q: How much are you satisfied with the work of new painters?
A: I am very much satisfied with the work of new painters. Not all painters, but some are really doing quality work. I admit, the standard of my students' work is higher than me. I won't say that I was the king and others are pawns. Society always keeps on changing and searching for the new ones. But majority try to walk on easy paths. They don't practice and work hard. Now they are busy in chatting on cell phones all the time.
Q: Do you feel that Media has been giving proper and required coverage to the field of painting like other fields of art?
A: media is covering field of painting but not as much as it should. Especially in past, media use to highlight only those painters, who use to feed media. I personally have suffered from this approach of media. Once, my exhibition was not covered by national media as I did not have enough money. Although situation is better now but still this defect is prevailing here somehow.
Q: What role can media play in widening the scope of paining in Pakistan?
A: Media can play an outstanding role in this regard if it’s true and objective. It can change the fate of a person. Now a day, world is completely moving on media’s information. Whoever denies the importance and strength of media, he is a fool. But approach to media is conditioned with money or friendships with media’s people. So this is a bitter fact that there are some charges of coming at media’s forefront.