Meeting the Red Baron submerged in the mosaic that he has built around himself over several decades, was probably one of the most memorable experiences of my life. This is not only because his personality is so diverse and his presence is an unforgettable one, but also because his collection of artwork is a wonderful reflection of this diversity. It was like stepping into a museum without an agenda, and not knowing what to expect. His home is like a treasure trove, unfolding before you, offering you surprises every step of the way, quite literally. There was art on every surface, every wall, every chair, every table and floor. The experience was akin to drowning in art, if that is possible. I drowned that day, in Seafield. It was a surreal, Gaudi-like experience that I may never fully be able to put into words.
One of the first questions that I put to him was if he remembers the first piece of art that he collected, which he did. In fact, so brilliant was his memory, that he remembered every detail pertaining to each piece he pointed out. He remembered where he collected them and when, beginning as early as 10 years of age. He described his collection as developing from a sense of a vision that he has painstakingly built up like a mosaic. He collects what is available and affordable, emphasizing mostly on what he feels may be important for the future.
Hameed Haroon, also known as the Red Baron to most Pakistanis, because of his eclectic music program on radio every Sunday, has built his collection on the premise that he owes something to the generations to come. With every artwork he has collected, he has kept the vision of a National Museum in mind. Different parts have been conceived and collected, mostly in this country. He feels we must understand, appreciate and collect our own national art and the art from our region and then spread outwards.
What I experienced that day was just a fraction of his collection. In those three hours that he kindly spent with us, all I could think about was how I could capture in words the essence of his passion and his vision. This series is dedicated to trying to articulate what this enigma really is.
Click to view picture gallery
(February 20, 2018)
(February 16, 2018)