Ask anyone within the Art circles of Pakistan who Anna Molka was and you are likely to receive a few raised eyebrows for your lack of knowing.20 April marks the 21st death anniversary of Anna Molka who was one of the few, perhaps the only female artists in Pakistan at the time of independence and was influential in nurturing the artistic community within country.
Born to Jewish Parents in London, she immigrated to India where she married a local and converted to Islam. The couple settled in Lahore and stayed there after the creation of Pakistan. Although they separated in 1951, she decided to stay in the country.
Her contribution to the country in the field of Arts is immense. She was instrumental in the setting up of the Fine Arts Department in Punjab University. While initially having a handful of students, the department would go on to train many budding artists included in them famous names such as Javed Iqbal, Colin David and Shahnawaz Zaidi. With her efforts, Punjab University became the country’s first institution to offer M.A in Fine Arts.
She was an illustrious painter and a trend setter, helping feminist art gain ground in the country. Besides arts, she also enjoyed gardening where she also employed her vivid creativity. By the 90s, her health was quickly failing and her doctors advised her to quit her passions. She passed away in 195.
However her life and example continues to be an inspiration for many women artists in the country today. Regarding her Nilofer Farrukh, the president of International Art Critics Association (Pakistan sections) remarked, “She has been the facilitator of a movement that made the proactive role of women artists a possibility”.