Untitled (Radha and Krishna)
By Abdur Rahman Chughtai (Pakistan, 1897-1975)
Watercolour on paper
Signed in Urdu lower left, stamped on reverse
Although given the accolade of the national artist of Pakistan, Abdur Rahman Chughtai, created works of a shared national identity more reflective of a unified pre-partition India. Chughtai painted scenes encompassing both Hindu and Muslim oral traditions and folklore. As Naqvi notes, Chughtai explains his reason for this in an essay written after 1947:
'...he held on to the view that an artist is above prejudice and that he must pay homage to a culture and tradition which is inclusive and hence universal.'
(Akbar Naqvi, Image and Identity: Fifty years of Painting and Sculpture in Pakistan, Karachi, 1998, p. 54)
Hailing from a lineage of artisans and craftsmen, Chughtai used only the finest materials for his work, and so with each drawing or painting he created a leaf of quality and importance - a homage to the Mughal and Persian miniature traditions he was so heavily influenced by.
The poetic portrayal of Radha and Krishna's unity is archetypal of Chughtai's style. He creates a symbiosis between the characters. Radha's body leans on Krishna's inner thigh, her feet rest over his as they interlock hands. Chughtai's highly trained techniques create a scene of gossamer delicacy.
Image and text credit: Bonhams