Remembering Anna Molka Ahmad 

 By Professor Dr. Saadat Saeed Urdu Department

Ankara university Turkey


Anna Molka Ahmad was an extraordinary national and international personality in the field of fine arts especially painting.

Though she is no more with us but due to the creative work to her credit her name will be remembered for ever. She was the founder of Fine Arts Department, of the Punjab University, Lahore. Many of her pupils like Iqbal Hussain, Colin David, Abrar Termizi, Ghulam Rasool, Shahnawaz Zaidi and Javed Iqbal have achieved greatness in their own artistic fields. Her large size paintings entitled Resurrection, Dance of Death, Dream of Hell, ‘Dream of Heaven’ were marvelous. Her paintings delineating the issues and situations emerged during periods concerning the Division of India and 65 War are full of striking details. She used to treat her subjects boldly. Her grand paintings contain sparks of her domineering and impressive personality. Her impressionistic technique blended with expressionistic tones and shades made her work unique. The suggestiveness of her knife was creative. She chose knife to paint in preference to smooth brushes and made her style so unique that the audience could do nothing but stand and wonder. The style originated by her was so unusual in its essence that art critics declared her work far better than the work done by most of her contemporary artists. Anna Molka's multi- cultural background made her viewpoint vast and liberal.

Her studies in the fields of history of arts and architecture, technical methods of sculpture, art appreciation, techniques of paintings and pigments and technical methods of graphics art, were exceptionally good.

Anna Molka used the media of drawing, painting, graphic arts, sculpture and design. She was known as an expert in the domain of still life, animal nature and figures. She used the media of water colour, gouache, fresco, tempera, oil, wax, mosaic to paint and produce unique portraits, still life, landscapes, figure compositions and animal paintings.

Many students and artists learnt from her the techniques of copper engraving, etching, dry paint, aquatint, wood-cut, wood-engraving, lithography. In the field of sculpture she was fond of modeling and plaster casting. Abrar Termizi and a few other artists told me that she was a great master of all the basic techniques of fine arts. Many students followed her in the world of designing. She was quite good in teaching basic design, fashion drawing, costume designing, textile designing, pottery designing, book illustration, lay out and typography, lettering and calligraphy, and advertising designing etc 

As an art critic she wrote many articles and books to promote the traditions of real art in Pakistan and abroad.

She was also famous for her impressionistic studies. An art critic says: “the term impressionism or impressionist painting describes a kind of painting which is flecked and somewhat formless as opposed to that which is linear and clearly silhouetted it is applicable to many epochs. The term impressionism however applies to a particular late 19th century style centering in Paris. There are several examples of pre-19th century impressionism in most of which the loose brush work is exhibited only in certain details or areas and does not become a universal fabric of the painting. Although subject matter is generally less important than the mode of execution in impressionism it can be said that impressionists invented a new genre of the big city and of Sunday in the country or on the beach. It is a distinctly middle - class and urban landscape. These starving artists confident in the validity of the material world gave a poetic form to the good life and to the leisure hours thought to be within reach of all."

Guillaumin, Pissarro, Sisely, Manet, Monet, Degas, Boudin, and Renoir etc are considered to be the great impressionists. The poet hidden in Molly Bridger (Molka's early name) forced her to become an impressionist.

Shahnawaz Zaidi Chairman of Fine Arts Department Punjab University Lahore writes: “She herself was an outstanding painter and sculptor. She depicted intensively in her paintings Pakistani culture, everyday life, festivals, and rituals. She was completely fascinated by bright sunshine and luminous colors in Pakistan and used to paint them in her particular emotional style. She was known as a courageous human being and fiery painter. She created hundreds of paintings and remained involved in art till her last breath. Her poetic collection has been published recently. She chose this media of expression only due to her deteriorating health since last few years as her restless personality was hankering after continuous expression of herself. She really was the founder of art education in Pakistan."

She told us (the scribe and Abrar Termizi) during a meeting at her place last year that she had developed a creative inquisitiveness in early age. She also studied literature, music and other fine arts. She was of the opinion that it is not possible in Pakistan to earn ones bread through any art. She was a popular teacher. Her pupils feel great reverence and respect for her. Abrar Termizi told me that under her guidance he learnt many useful techniques of modern paintings. She never thought to be settled in her real homeland and chose Pakistan for ever to live. Her devotion for Pakistan was exceptional.

With her students and visitors she used to talk about the future of art in Pakistan which of course was not bright for her.  She was an expert in her subject. Talking to her we felt she possessed endless knowledge. Her soul was fired with the real zest for learning, and she was always a source of inspiration for the seekers of knowledge.

Anna Molka Ahmad created a new path and a new way of looking at objects. Throughout her life her broad vision continued to expand.

She was a great admirer of new movements in art. Like Sadequain and many other artists she was convinced of the reality that the creative self can choose any form to express itself. Besides paintings many great painters chose poetry for their unexpressed passions. Anna Molka also wrote poetry. A collection of her poetry entitled Poems containing 56 poems has been published recently by Print House Lahore. In these poems her impressionistic self seems to be at its peak. New orientations of many old passions such as love, hate, jealousy, sadness, loneliness and affection can be seen in her poems. She believed that artists who embraced modernism had distinct fascinations of their own. She always encouraged new ideas and new styles. Her students told the scribe that her guidance was perfect and she used to float unique and precious ideas for further inquiries. They admire and love her.

When we study Anna's paintings in detail we come to know that her mode of expression is captivating. Like other impressionists, subject matter even for her was generally of less important. Her landscapes, portraits and paintings projecting still life are superb in impression. Lahore and its life seem to haunt her. She loved to paint solitude, loneliness, alienation, mannerism, sufferings and sadness in the perspective of urban landscape. Most of her paintings symbolise materialistic life around us. She painted poetry and wrote sceneries. Her colours were bright and strokes fascinating.

She always desired for an art museum in her name in Pakistan where her work could be exhibited. Her fans maintain the same opinion and request the present government to take special interest in constructing Anna Molka’s Art Museum in Lahore. It was her last dream.