Figure in a Landscape, oil on board, signed, dated, titled and location inscribed Figure in a Landscape/painted at Sibtain Manzil/27th april 1960/SADEQUAIN on reverse, framed, 148 x 30.5cm (58 1/4 x 12in).
Provenance: Private Collection, Pakistan; acquired directly from the artist.
In the early 1960's, Sadequain was exploring a a new artistic language through the depiction of cacti. The cactus paintings were born the decade before when Sadequain's retreat to the sea shore of Gadani for convalescence from illness resulted in a resolute change in his artistic output. It was here, in the immense solitude of his surroundings that these writhing forms began to speak to the artist as otherworldly symbols of man's victory over his environment.
In Figure in a Landscape the cactus, in its continuous battle with the elements, emerges through the human form, perhaps symbolising the artists' own resilience despite unstable health. Sadequain says of his experience in Gadani "I felt myself becoming part of the cactus and the cactus becoming part of me." (Sadequain the Holy Sinner. Karachi, Pakistan, 2003, p.9)
The figure referred to in the title is no longer strictly human. Flesh is transformed into the tough exterior of the desert plant, withstanding the violent winds and barren landscape of a hostile climate. Hands forced upwards towards the moon seem to possess an esoteric bond to this source of light. The figure merges with its environment, arranging for a complex spatial relationship between forms.
A strikingly similar composition is seen in the work Roots and Branches of the same year. In the book, The Holy Sinner prepared on the occasion of the exhibition at the Mohatta Palace Museum, Roots and Branches is described as one of the artist's most successfully resolved works of the period.