Aqeel Solangi, an accomplished artist from Ranipur, Sindh, holds an impressive academic journey. He graduated with honors in Painting from the National College of Arts, Lahore, in 2003, and later earned dual master’s degrees, one in Visual Art and another in Fine Art (with merit), from esteemed institutions in the UK. Notably, he received the renowned International Charles Wallace Pakistan Trust Visiting Artist Fellowship for the Prince’s School of Traditional Arts, London, in 2006. Aqeel is currently an Associate Professor and Head of the Painting and Sculpture departments at the National College of Arts, Rawalpindi.
His artistic prowess has been showcased both nationally and internationally. His participation in the 2013 Pakistani Artists’ workshop in China and his recognition as a ‘A Vision of the Future-2006’ Young Artists Award recipient by the Lahore Arts Council are significant milestones. Aqeel’s works have been critically reviewed by experts and he has contributed to the field of education and art through his multifaceted career. He resides in Rawalpindi, continuing to enrich the art world with his creations and commitment to education.
Titles are taken from the most famous nursery rhyme in Urdu language of the same name Aik Tha Raja, Aik Thi Rani… Aqeel utterly fascinated with this whole stance of painting an amalgamation of folklore with folk theater (Putli Tamasha) as he used to perform as a puppeteer with Puppeteers NCA Society in 2001-02 and during that time, he performed on the stages at Alhamra Cultural complex Lahore, Ghulam Ishaq Khan Institute of Technology (GIKI) besides National College of Arts, Lahore. Later, he used to see the live puppet performances at the PNCA National Puppet Theater adjacent to Liaqat Memorial Hall Liaqat Bagh Rawalpindi, performed for the public every month.
Aik Tha Raja… and Aik Thi Rani… are the paintings of two String puppets tied with strings, handled from ‘above’. The background is somehow unidentified, sort of constructed place like stage itself in any theater. Stage where puppets are emerging out of dark background with a lit halo spotlight filled with periwinkle flowers.