Recently, a piece of art took the Pakistani social media by storm and has led to a roller coaster of emotions for many. This was the sculpture of the nation’s National Poet, Allama Muhammad Iqbal, in the park in Lahore which bears his name; Gulshan-e-Iqbal.
The sculpture, for many, does not bear a resemblance to Iqbal with its linear shapes and almost geometric proportions. The fact that sculpture was installed at a public park led many to express outrage for two reasons; firstly commissioning a substandard sculpture of a national icon, and secondly the fact that public money was being spent without giving a chance to emerging talented artists.
But alongside such a serious reaction, social media users also were simply stunned at the absurdity of the sculpture. Many looked at the situation through a comic lens.
After the trend #IqbalStatue trended on Pakistani Twitter for a day or two, the Punjab government swung into action and ordered that the statue would be removed. But just as this information was made public, more revelations about the statue came forth; changing the public opinion on it entirely.
The fact that the gardeners of Gulshan-e-Iqbal made the sculpture on their own and by their own funds made most people reconsider their reaction to it. The odd proportions and linear shape of the sculpture morphed into something more endearing for most people. Some thought that even if this had not been made by the gardeners, it is still an interesting piece of art. Statues and sculptures need not be within the Realist school of art which aims to accurately portray the subject, they can fall into cubism, surrealism or any other form of art style.
After this, people have been asking the Punjab Government to make sure that the statue is not removed and stays as an interesting piece of public art. Nadia Tufail, the spokesperson for the park authority, confirmed that the sculpture is being removed and will be reinstalled with improvements. Furthermore, since the structure was built by the gardeners out of their own pocket money, no action will be taken against them.