Tassaduq Sohail, a well-known contemporary painter, was born in Jullundar in 1930 and later migrated to Lahore. His family moved him to Karachi in 1952. In Karachi, he found a rich Urdu literary circle and joined them where he was termed as qissa-go, for his talent of tale-narrating, by Muhammad Hasan Askari, the urdu teacher and critic. Soon he became the Joint Secretary of the Halqa Arbab-i-Zauq, when N.M. Rashid was the Secretary.
Sohail moved to London in 1961 and started painting to win female friends and to overcome his loneliness and succeeded in his objectives. But soon the painting became his passion and he joined evening classes at the St. Martin School of Art and art became his career. His first exhibition was held in London in 1978, and over the years there have been so many that he has lost count of them. He states, “They must be in thousands. These include watercolours, pastels, pen and ink and whatnot, but I have kept no record”. Almost after three decades his paintings arrived at Bonham’s – the international art auction house in 2007 that gave him stature of an international artist.
The artist settled in Karachi in 2001. He works at his apartment, at 3am in early morning, during what he calls the ‘witching hours’. Explaining his habit of waking up at this hour to work, Sohail said, “This is the witching hour when witches and all sorts of creatures are flying about looking for people to whom they can grant favors….. I now paint in the witching hours, which is the best time of the day for me”.
Sohail, other than being an avid painter, is also a writer. He writes short stories, and reads the dastaans of Urdu literature, the influence of which can be clearly seen in many of his works. The construction of his work remains constant with the rendered characters possessing depth. His universe is marked by implicit inner presence. One may also outline the erotics of his art. Women, garish, naïve, frontal, posterior, and in many forms appears on his canvas, which proclaim erogenous polemic. Many of his works are either imbued with a feminine quality or complexly engaged with it.
Shakira Masood, a gallery curator, explains the artist’s work as such, “Sohail has travelled the distance, yet miraculously managed to keep his childhood innocence. His work belongs to the Native Art of Central Europe, but the imagery remains very much his own. His pallet has reflected phases of his life. The initial period of London, first displayed at Indus Gallery in Karachi in 1978 was very European. Once he settled in Karachi he chose vibrant colours, but in recent past it became brown and black…… but now Sohail is back with his childlike fun loving work. Here is an artist who truly loves life".