Removal of paintings from the National Art Gallery being termed as ‘theft’

Removal of paintings National Gallery

Artists have demanded Prime Minister Imran Khan and NAB to take notice of the removal of 10 paintings of AJ Shemza from the National Art Gallery.

A woman claiming to be the late artist’s niece took 10 paintings from the National Art Gallery. The complaint was against the removal of paintings and artists urged the National Accountability Bureau to take notice against it.

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On Wednesday, at a webinar organized by the Development Communications Network (Devcom-Pakistan), artists made an objection that this was the first time that artist’s heirs came to take donated artwork from the National Gallery.

Furthermore, Naeem Tahir, Former PNCA director-general said that the removal of paintings is against the rules and those artists who donate their artwork to National Gallery become the national treasure and no one can ever claim to make it his\her property by taking it back.

He added that artists donate their work with a written letter and sometimes verbally, but whatever the condition may be, once enters into the gallery it cannot be returned back as it becomes the national asset and no painting can be removed from the gallery.

National Artists Association of Pakistan (NAAP) Chairman Mian Ijazul Hassan said: “I am witness to AJ Shemza’s painting exhibition of 1985 organized in Lahore. As many as 100 paintings were put on display. Each painting was priced between Rs4,000 to Rs5,000; now a single painting is worth millions, and the total loss to the nation is in billions.”

He went on to say, “Just being permanently on display, Shemza donated ten of his paintings to the National Art Gallery as many other artists have done including myself.”

Former PNCA executive director Jamal Shah said, “I had a PNCA board meeting on the issue, all the members had a unanimous decision that the Shemza’s paintings are a national treasure now after he had donated it to the National Art Gallery, and they cannot be returned to any of his ‘heirs’. I had an untoward conversation with Federal Minister Shafqat Mahmood then on the issue. But I did not compromise on it.”

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