An Architect's Life Shows Links Between India and Pakistan

Mustansir Dalvi (L), Professor of Architecture at Sir JJ College, and author and architect Kaiwan Mehta (R), discuss the art and architecture of MA Ahed at Asia Society India Centre on November 30, 2010. (Asia Society India Centre)

MUMBAI, November 30, 2010 - The life and works of renowned Pakistani architect M.A. Ahed (1919-2001) can be celebrated as fine specimens of art and architecture, and be studied as a reflection of ties between India and Pakistan that existed during his time.

This was revealed at a panel on the book, Of Colour and Form: The Art and Architecture of M.A. Ahed, organized by Asia Society India Centre, the Foundation for the Museum of Modern Art (FOMMA), and Marg Publications at Sir JJ College of Architecture. The panelists - Mustansir Dalvi, Professor of Architecture at Sir J.J. College of Architecture, and Kaiwan Mehta, author and architect - discussed the lasting influence of Ahed's work today.

Two panelists from Pakistan were also to join the panel - Ejaz Ahed, M.A. Ahed's son, and Sheba Akhtar, the author of the book. However, due to difficulties in obtaining visas from Pakistan for India - an obstacle that has compromised several India Centre programs - they were unable to fly to India. In this absence, Ejaz Ahed sent personal remarks on the dynamic and multifaceted life of his father. These were read aloud at the program, and can be accessed here.

Mustansir Dalvi shed light on how Ahed's former college, the venue of the programme in Mumbai, the city of Mumbai itself, and the environment in India during Ahed's time here shaped his art and architecture. Ahed, and other such Pakistani students in India, took these influences to Pakistan and shaped development there. Dalvi lamented that it is India's loss to not be mutually connected to architectural developments in Pakistan and other South Asian countries.

Kaiwan Mehta added that Ahed's life serves as an opportunity to map certain travel routes and shed light on Asia in context, by observing Ahed as a model for the movement of people and ideas in those times. He explained that people's work could reveal much about the dynamics and trends present around them.

The panelists recalled Ejaz Ahed's statement that art and architecture have no political boundaries, and serve as common bonds between India and Pakistan.