A recent solo exhibition by Mudassar Manzoor titled “Shahnama – A Journey towards the self” was held at Chawkandi Art Gallery in mid March. Taking inspiration from Ferdowsi’s Shahnameh, that holds much more than just a literary significance, Manzoor portrays different aspects of human behavior. Philosophy of life is integral to these paintings that shed a light on creation of the world. In the words of Firuza Melville “Shahnameh is not only the encyclopaedia of Iranian culture of its Golden Age: it universally reflects all features of human nature in its full spectrum of nuances from good to evil, from tragedy to happiness, from love to death, from courage, honour and generosity to cowardliness and betrayal.” Mudassar Manzoor uses Western techniques in his painting with maintaining the traditional aspect as well. The perceptions and inspiration from Shahnameh is done masterfully by the painter, showing different aspects of life. At this exhibition he offers his own visual interpretations of Firdawsi’s Shahnameh, Hafez’ ghazals and Rumi’s Masnavi. Manzoor’s paintings on the Persian poetry have an idiosyncratic palette. He delivers with meticulousness in watercolour, gouache and acrylics on paper. The artist depicts his ideas and perceptions with lucidity. His use of colours, black ink and brush techniques are done to finesse. Some of the elements in his work are symbolic with clear hint at divinity and power of the unknown. Most of his work showcases a dreamlike affect with layers painted on top of each other in a fine composition. The work in some paintings is obscure leaving to the imagination of the viewers. In ‘Melody of your own Stillness’, Manzoor shows the subdued thoughts and the power of self. The colour scheme, the techniques and the blurred image are all indicative of tranquility that engulfs a person like sweet music. ‘My other is still with me’ is a beautiful representation of the inner self. Shown in diptych, these paintings are replicas of inner and outer self of a person, a focus on different perceptions. In the words of Charles Melville “Mudassar Manzoor superb diptych depicts a still warrior - apparently once more Rostam, confronted by Zal holding aloft the Simurgh protective feather, opposite an equally still, but evidently faced-down foe (Esfandiyar), both caught in a frozen pose of calm before what must be the inevitable violence that is the warrior’ raison d’etre. So it would seem, but the fact that the figures and their poses show an unmistakable resemblance to ‘Abd Allah Khan Bahadur and Sayyid Muzaffar Khan, two generals under the Mughal Emperor Shahjahan, depicted in the Windsor Padshahnama by ‘Abd al-Hamid Lahuri - in a magnificent painting.” Mudassar Manzoor has done his Bachelor of Fine Arts, with Distinction from National College of Arts, Lahore. He has also acquired a diploma in Graphic Design from Punjab University, Lahore. He has conducted workshops on miniature painting both in Oman and Pakistan. He has been awarded several scholarships and awards and has numerous exhibitions to his credit along with a privilege of teaching at NCA Lahore.