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Air Warriors

 Aviation Art Gallery - S.M.A. Hussaini's Air Warriors

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Group Captain Masood Akhtar Hussaini's paintings have always included both dominant and tiny details that restore passionate links with the past settings and events of the Pakistan Air Force. Hussainis brush has traced this history between the PAF's infancy to its 50th anniversary with painstaking fidelity, in a continuing tribute to the men and women of the Air Force. The paintings reproduced in this book also include his most recent work.

Hussaini paints the past for us with the ease of a pilot who might have had the cockpit's view of all the bygone generations of the PAF in their element, from the remote and dusty Miranshah to the bustling and crowded Sargodha. The airman's world into which he transports the viewer is not simulation. It is reality which summons up the trials and travails as well as the joys of life under the Air Force flag.

Painting within a specialised field like military aviation can be very challenging. The air force sky is not easily or frequently accessible for reasons of high cost and safety. Close perspectives of high-g air combat manoeuvres or low-level weapon deliveries cannot be experienced without some exposure to risk. For these reasons the community of military aviation artists around the globe is quite small. Most of these artists have spent their lives in the close proximity of war planes. That the beginning of Hussaini's career as a PAF officer happened to coincide with the blossoming of his artistic flair can only be described as a stroke of good fortune for the PAF.

The PAF did not 'discover' Hussaini. Soon after he joined his first squadron the extraordinary skill of his early sketches simply commanded attention. There was persistent demand for more as crew rooms and offices began to display his work. Then came a stint with the Royal Saudi Air Force where Hussaini's rapidly maturing talent drew praise from Kieth Ferris, the visiting Art Director of the US Air Force. In later years, Ferris was to become Hussaini's guide and mentor.

Recognising the artist's promise, the PAF provided the encouragement it deserved. Hussaini was given the freedom and the surroundings specifically suited to a professional artist. His work over the following years testified to the good use he made of his Spartan yet adequate facilities for work, travel and flying. It also demonstrated the maturity of his art and his uncompromising research of each subject he painted.

Two companion series on the PAF constitute Hussaini's most important work so far. The first series of paintings preserves the history of the early years of the PAF. The second collection recreates the high points of the PAF's combat operations in the four wars it has fought. Both groups, altogether some 113 works, are characterised by the energy, exhilaration and drama they convey and represent a unique endeavour that has taken Hussaini two decades.

Through art exhibitions and several publications, Hussaini is now wellknown both in Pakistan and abroad. Outside the country, his paintings are displayed in the air force premises of Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States. The American Society of Aviation Artists has honoured him with their Fellowship. In 1987, the Government of Pakistan acknowledged his priceless contributions as the Official Artist of the PAF by awarding him the Tamgha-i-Basalat.

The PAF is lucky to have Hussaini. I believe the dedication that goes into his paintings comes from a strong reciprocal sentiment.

- Air Chief Marshal Jamal A. Khan, NI(M), SJ, SBt, PAF (Retd)

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