Iqbal Hussain – Lahore’s controversial artist

Iqbal Hussain from Lahore is one of the finest painters we have. Most of his paintings depict women from the Heera Mandi (literally the diamond market)- or the centuries old red-light district. I found the above image on the Internet today. The news-item referred to Iqbal’s advocacy through his powerful art works:

..Others, who have emerged as spokespersons for the women of Heera Mandi, including leading artist Iqbal Hussain, whose own mother was a sex worker, emphasise their “lack of empowerment, exploitation and helplessness”.

His works convey all of these emotions and bring to life extraordinary characters who are often neglected or spurned by the hypocritical culture of Pakistan. (images on the right and below are from here).

More on Iqbal Hussain here

Endnote from here:

Being termed a controversial painter in Pakistan, Iqbal’s subjects sometimes tend to shock “puritan painters”, but Iqbal follows his own visions and continues to paint his unconventional and radically innovative paintings. He enjoys a great reputation as an artist in the international art world. His paintings have been requested by Jordanian Princess Wijdan Ali for the Jordanian Gallery of Fine Arts. His were the only ones selected for Unesco Headquarters Prize in 1995, Paris. In 1998, one of his paintings was auctioned at the Sotheby’s Auction House in London.

Published in: on February 6, 2007 at 5:22 pm  Comments (9)  

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9 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. A pleasure reading this post. Very rarely does one get the chance to read a post on Pakistani contemporary art…or even just Pakistani art in general. The paintings are bold, sharp in colour and utterly-in-your face. They force you to a reality that most don’t acknowledge exists. I rather enjoy his work – for most it is disturbing, for me it is as real as one can get.

    If I am not mistaken some of his work can be found at the Cooco’s Den (restaurant) in Lahore. I photographed Cooco’s Den when I was there just a month or so back. The painting you’ve highlighted I believe hangs in the foyer above the main door.
    If you check out my photoblog, you’ll notice that painting.

  2. […] famous red light area, heera mundi (diamond district), this restaurant was the brain child of Iqbal Hussain, a painter, art teacher and the son of a dancer who worked this area in the […]

  3. I am really impressed by the artwork of this great Artist.I really appreciate his feelings and his thaughts.Being a pakistani i am really feeling good to know that he is from pakistan.


  4. it would be nice if biographical information about Iqbal Hussain are publised on Wikipedia

  5. its really a great effort by a very original artist for the promotion of art i remember him teaching art at Lahore Art Gallery

  6. Can someone please let me know where I can purchase one of Iqbal Hussain’s works.
    Thank you.

  7. paintings can be purchased from or by directly going to cuckoo’s cafe and asking the work team there.

    I would like to know if there is any charity working for welfare of prostitutes in red area, coz i want to open one there. any suggestions?

  8. i want to meet

  9. can anyone tell me or mail me the full address of Iqbal Hussain?? do reply..

    Thank You.

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