On Independence Day every year, the Government of Pakistan recognises people from different walks of life for their work, achievements and selfless contribution. While the President conferred awards to 184 recipients in Islamabad this August 14, similar ceremonies were mirrored in provincial capitals to dole out secondary awards.
In Karachi, receiving, among others, the award from the governor of Sindh was sculptor Fakeero Solanki, also known as the Michelangelo of Sindh. Having received the Tamgha-e-Imtiaz, this was the first time such recognition has been given to a member of Sindh’s Hindu community.
Born in a family of sculptors in Tando Allahyar, Fakeero started sculpting when he was only 12. After completing his Intermediate (12th grade), he started making idols and sculptures full time. From sculptures of Hindu deities to famous personalities of Pakistan and celebrated figures of the world, he has made them all. His work has not only won him praise in Pakistan but across the globe, where he has held exhibitions to showcase his talent. Students from all over Pakistan also study and try to learn his techniques.
Till now, this self-made artist has made nearly 300 sculptures and presently takes about two to two-and-a-half months to complete a single piece of work.
Talking to Sabaat, he said, “My father and grandfather used to make idols and small temples for worship at home. I learned this art from them.”
Talking about the lack of a higher education, Fakeero shared, “I don’t have a professional degree but one day in 1993 I got a book on Michelangelo and Bernini’s work from an old, roadside bookseller. I saw that these artists had a very different style from our style of work. I went through more of their artwork and found different techniques and styles which helped me improve. I then started merging Western and Indian techniques in my work, which led to exceptional results.”
He claims his work is very different and no one in India even does this kind of work.
Like many artists, Fakeero finds his inspiration from things around him. He explained how he spent days and nights with people from various professions to understand their craftsmanship.
“In the 1990’s, we did not have internet so I did not really have the same opportunities as children of today. I would practice very hard till I started improving. Due to the books I found I started working on minute details in every sculpture. If I wanted to work on muscles, I would go to a gym to see the shapes and delicate details of a man’s body. If jewelry needed to be made I spent time with the jewelers to see how they work. I spent time with barbers to see the texture of beards and hairstyles and I even tried to learn palmistry to understand the lines in a hand and its shape,” he narrated.
“Studying the difference between the facial features of a kind and cruel soul was a hard part of my learning but all this helped me add the finer details to the end product.”
And the learning has not stopped. Fakeero finds the internet as a major source of information where he explores documentaries and tutorials to further polish his skill-set.
When asked about his earnings, he said, “I don’t work to earn money. This is my passion and I am happy with it. I earn enough to support my family.”