“I just evolved into who I am today.” — Dr. Abrar Pirzada
Dr. Abrar Pirzada is one of my few favorite people in Lahore. I first met him in 2005 when I was visiting Pakistan. I had accompanied my father, and I still remember that particular moment when we sat down to talk to Dr. Abrar and his wife.
I wasn’t sure at that moment, but he had an aura around him that just drew you in. His demeanor and soft-spoken personality were such that it put me at ease. Talking to Dr. Abrar, even today, always made me feel like as if I am getting full attention and he always gave me his 100% in our conversations.
Over the subsequent years, we would meet on weddings and other events happening in town, not to mention the wonderful lunches he hosts at his immaculately designed farmhouse. (On a completely different note, I am in love with his house, which he has designed and styled after those classical pre-partition houses in Inner City Lahore. With intricate wood work doors and stained glasses which have been painstakingly collected over the years from Lahore’s inner city, he’s come up with a fine looking house). Over the years, our meetings would be like a mini-catch up session and each time we would share something from a part of our lives.
As an architect, it was Dr. Abrar’s foray into landscape painting that caught my particular interest. I questioned myself as to why a doctor would get into painting? In one simple line, Dr. Abrar told me: “Painting to me is a source of joy, and it allows me to connect to my Creator, and that helps me in the evolvement of my personality.”
Who knew that Dr. Abrar, the much accomplished cosmetic plastic surgeon had a hidden talent to create majestic landscape paintings?
Dr. Abrar, by profession, is an accomplished cosmetic plastic surgeon, having worked at various institutions in Lahore and abroad. He grew up in a household where his own father was a doctor, and would always idolize him for working in such a noble profession. Observing him work so diligently in his profession, Dr. Abrar drew a lot of inspiration and pushed himself hard to become a medical professional- even though his heart was in painting.
When I asked him to share a little bit of his childhood, he narrated the following:
“My parents were extremely hard working, making me realize how short our life is with no time to waste. My mother also used to paint when I was growing up in Sargodha. I also spent about six years at Aitchison College, Lahore boarding school until I completed my FS.C. (High School). The whole atmosphere at Aitchison which includes its lovely architecture, greenery, character building lessons, debate competitions, academic excellence and students from all parts of Pakistan had a deep impact on my personality.”
This inspiration and motivation, from both his father and mother, led him to complete his training in General Surgery, and then Plastic Surgery in New York from Lincoln Hospital (an affiliate of Cornell University) in 2001. As soon as he was finished, he moved back to Lahore with his family. After working in Lahore for a few years, he took on a prestigious job in Bahrain for two years, which enhanced his skills as an accomplished plastic surgeon.
It’s not a coincidence that a field like plastic surgery required some level of creativity on the part of Dr. Abrar. In his own words, he said, “Plastic Surgery is a form of art, requiring an extreme sense of aesthetic.” This very creative streak in him has proved to be beneficial, as he is able to unleash his creativity, though this time it’s through the paintbrushes and not the surgery knives.
I asked Dr. Abrar what his paintings are all about and where he draws his inspiration from to come up with the varied paintings. He merely replied, “We are blessed to be on this earth. Its landscape with beautiful mountains, rivers, skies, and trees make an image on my mind which is slightly different than usual. The colors, I begin to see with my eyes closed, mixed with my own emotions are deeper, with more contrast than usual. What more, I feel there is a communication between us and the Creator, not in words but in the form of colors and diversity.”
Along with this, he also drew inspiration from his schooling years at Aitchison College and living in boarding school. He started taking in inspiration from the grand, opulence architecture of the school buildings as well as from the lush gardens and lawns on campus, and this all allowed him to hone his architectural and painting skills.
Thankfully, as he continued to share, the response he’s been getting from family and friends regarding his paintings have been tremendous. They give him constant encouragement and motivation to keep on producing more such paintings.
According to Dr. Abrar, it takes about two to two and a half weeks to complete one painting. There is a lot of thought that goes into the technicalities of each painting, from the theme to the size of the canvas to the choice of colors.
Reminiscing back to his childhood, he recalled how he was eight years old when he first picked up a paintbrush to paint, and since then, there’s been no looking back. He was indeed very excited to see his creation come to life at that tender age, as each brushstroke developed into a complete painting. It gave him immense satisfaction and a huge sense of accomplishment.
His number one support at that time was his friends in school. They would sit around him and marvel at his artwork and pour in constant admiration. This was as, as Dr. Abrar shared, a form of recreation for them. However, growing up in the 70s and 80s, a career in the painting didn’t hold a promising career, and so naturally his parents would worry. Dr. Abrar understood where they were coming from, and so pursued a career in medicine after his father. However, he never let his passion inside of him– he kept his dream alive.
Today, 2018, Dr. Abrar has evolved a lot as a person. Having covered his trajectory from Pakistan to the US to the Middle East back to Pakistan, he has come a long way, professionally and personally. His journey through his paintings over the years has always meant to be about his inner self, as it were a bridge between him and the Creator.
In wrapping up our conversation, Dr. Abrar how he is impressed with those people who are self-made, have an objective in life, whether professional, philanthropic, or business community, and who work selflessly throughout their lives. I asked him where he sees himself in the near future. He said: “I am very much interested in exhibiting my works. I have created enough paintings and today I feel ready to go out there in the world. Ideally, I would like to showcase my paintings in both Lahore and New York. I want to be able to share my paintings with everyone.
I finally asked Dr. Abrar if he had any words of advice for me personally, and he shared with me his life motto: “Work hard and never give up.”
On that note, we parted ways, and I can’t wait to meet up with him on the next event, where we will catch up with our own lives with exciting news. In the meantime, I am super excited as he ventures into exhibiting his paintings which the rest of the world needs to see. More than that, I am excited to be able to witness the further personal growth and evolution of Dr. Abrar Pirzada.