Vol. 5 Num 57 Fri. July 23, 2004  

Drawing out the beauty of flowers
Iffat Ara Dewan's solo at Shilpangan

People have long known Iffat Ara Dewan as a reputed singer. Of late she also has established herself as an artist. As Iffat Ara says,' I've always wanted to draw and paint ever since I was young, art being a favourite subject in my school days. However, it took me a long time to start working in fine arts and I began seriously in 1990, with my solo exhibition 1992 at the German Cultural Centre.' Since the very beginning, she has been working on her own. However, when she met senior artists such as Shafiuddin and Mohammed Kibria, she always discussed her work and took their guidance. Other prominent artists like Mahmudul Haque and Jamal Ahmed have also had discussions with her. She said that she immensely valued their inputs.

Today, Iffat Ara has her solo exhibition at Shilpangan. She mostly paints flowers and this is because of their integral beauty, serenity and the joy that they bring to the viewers. The flowers include aporajita, dolonchanpa, ognishika, alamanda, gypsy flowers and other blossoms of the rainy season. She has also done some portraits of women in which she tried to convey her feelings in the best possible way. One of the new subjects that she has brought in is the teashop with their bread, biscuits, eggs, fruits like banana, tea, betel leaf and other goodies for the wayside traveller. She feels this tea shop is a world of its own.

Iffat Ara works directly on her paper with her chalks without making any preparatory sketches although she ponders for some time before selecting her subject and arranging the composition. She works usually in the mornings and afternoons but much of her time is naturally taken up with her music and the art work has to be fitted in the free period when she is not singing. 'I'm more particular about my singing and practice that every day. The art work comes in my free time.'

Before she launched into her art career she studied books on art, especially the French Impressionists. 'Much later, seeing the works in the exhibitions around me, I find that they too inspire me, although not any one artist in particular,' she asserts.

Asked to comment on the state of art in Bangladesh, Iffat Ara says, 'I'm not an authority on it. However, I feel that there has been a phenomenal rise in art appreciation and an increase in art galleries as compared to the time when I was in school and college. Similarly, there is much more discussion on fine arts in the newspapers and magazines. Again, a lot more young people have gone into fine arts.'

Among Iffat Ara's works is the ognishika blossom, with its leaves and stems seen in a green bottle. The background is green and there are blue strokes in front. The gypsy flowers were dainty, tiny things set in black, with a hint of crimson red in the front. Purple and white aporojita is in an octagon vase with yellow and orange lines in the backdrop. In a glass vase, again, is gondhoraj, placed on a stool, with the yellowish blossoms being the old wilted ones. Along with these were portraits of women in red and green, one seen as a profile and another seen from the front.

The exhibition showed how someone's hobby can develop into something serious and on a large and impressive scale.

A bouquet of Agnishikha Chalk Pastel