Amar Aziz (65) earned his bachelor in architecture at NCA.National College of Arts, Lahore in Pakistan and started working in his father’s architectural firm. There he became curious about the outside world through contact with pen pals from many countries.
During his correspondence with a friend in Norway he received three postcards, one showing a fjord motif, another an image of Pillar-Guri with her horn, and a third of a winter landscape. Amar had never seen snow before, but had read about the midnight sun in Readers’ Digest, and for him this was a fantasy world for several years.
His desire for adventure never ceased, eventually drawing him to Portugal where he found employment as an architect’s assistant. However, his lack of knowledge of the Portuguese language made him uneasy, and after a suggestion from a relative in Norway he traveled to Oslo.
Amar earned his bachelors in interior design and graphic design at the Oslo National Academy of Arts. After graduation, he was employed as a graphic designer for several years.
When the chocolate manufacturing company Freia, for which he worked, celebrated its 100th anniversary, he was asked to paint their anniversary poster. His paintings were then exhibited at the famous Freia Canteen. The 12 wall paintings commissioned from Edvard Munch by Johan Throne Holst for the factory’s 25th anniversary are still decorating the room, so he was in good company.
Art critic Jappe Nilsen wrote about the unveiling of the Freia pictures in the autumn of 1922: “Freia has made a great undertaking. It has spearheaded development. It decided that for the workers only the best was good enough and has therefore got Norway’s greatest painter to decorate their canteen.”
After Amar’s Freia debut he participated in a poster competition in the capital, Oslo, and won first prize. That poster was distributed all over the world.
Although he graduated with degrees in the learning sciences at Oslo National Academy of Arts, Amar never worked as a teacher, realizing that he had to be a full time painter. After studying several art forms he fell in love with cubism, then illustrating two stories in the Norwegian princess Märtha Louise’s “Book of Angels”. He also fully illustrated a book on “Fairy Tales from Pakistan to Norway” (Universitetsforlaget).
He has also decorated three Indian restaurants in Oslo.
When I met Amar last month, he told me that he is impassioned in light, shadow and dimensions. His cubistic paintings show that he rejects the concept that art should copy nature, but still he adopts the traditional techniques of perspective, modeling and foreshortening.
Today he combines his art education with his knowledge of interior design, printing his motifs on aluminum. “I want to create my own expression,” he says. “I am not too keen on the classic painters,” he admits. “I want things to come out of my own head. I don’t want to follow in the footsteps of others.”
One painter he adores, however, is the Hungarian-French artist Victor Vasareli.
Amar likes Norwegian architecture, and as long as “it’s not national romantic”, he would like to bring in new elements in his own art.
At present he is working on a cubistic series called “Steps to Paradise”, which he aims to exhibit in the near future.
Portraits of Amar Aziz, photographs by Tor Kjolberg
From Architect in Pakistan to Cubist Painter in Norway, written by Tor Kjolberg