KARACHI, April 14: The well-known Karachi-based artist Mansur Aye died of kidney failure at 9am on Monday. He was 67.
Mansur Aye was on dialysis at the Aga Khan Hospital when his health deteriorated. To make matters worse, he was also suffering from cirrhosis of the liver. But his liver did not let him down. His kidneys did. He was conscious until the final 24 hours of his life, when the urea level in his system rose irreversibly. According to his son, Munawwar, the late artist maintained a brave front all through his illness.
A large number of people, mainly family members and friends, particularly artists and art-lovers, converged at his house on hearing of his death. He was buried in the PECHS graveyard.
The departed artist has left his wife, Prof Shahnaz Mansur, who teaches at the microbiology department of the University of Karachi, son Munawwar who works for an advertising agency, and a daughter who is an architect by profession. Both his children are married. But the one individual he was most attached to was his three-year-old granddaughter, Zahra, whom he was teaching to paint.
Mansur Aye, who decided to change his second name Ahmed and adopt the first letter of the alphabet to sign his paintings, was a self-taught artist and did not conform to any school of art.
“No man is an island,” wrote the early 17th century poet John Donne, but Aye was an island in so far as his art was concerned. He was not inspired by anyone, not even by his father Maqsood Ali, who painted the Quaid’s portrait soon after Partition. Mansur Aye lamented the fact that the painting somehow disappeared from the National Museum.
Mansur Aye belonged to that group of talented artists of the mid-sixties who appeared on the art scene more or less at the same time. Two of them, Ahmed Pervez and Bashir Mirza, are no more. Kohari is settled abroad. Only the sculptor Shahid Sajjad, very much in harness, is left behind to drift down memory lane. Delhi-born Mansur Aye, who had the last of his twenty-plus solo exhibitions at Indus Gallery last year, painted until his illness took a turn for the worse. He used different media but his forte was portraits and the one subject which surfaced again and again in his paintings was the moon-faced girl, who became his trademark.
Aye’s friend of four decades, Mohammed Jami says that he has not known any one who was as dependable and soft-spoken as the late artist.
His soyem will be held at Rahmania Masjid, next to the PECHS graveyard, at 4pm on Wednesday. For women, Quran khawani will be held at what was Aye’s residence in Block 2, PECHS, until he passed away.