Vol. 5 Num 150 Fri. October 22, 2004  

Khalid's eye-catching canvases

Khalid Mahmud Mithu, in his ongoing 11th solo exhibit at Chitrak Gallery has brought in a 3-D effect on his numerous, large canvases. The motifs that he has used are human hands, dancing figures, and other easily recognisable elements which are taken from everyday life or his dreams and imagination. He has added on the shapes on layers of acrylic paints, using papier- mache, actual marbles, sepia, brown-and-white sea-shells, polished gem-like marbles, sticks and stones to highlight the dramatic impact. The mixed media is not that abstract that one cannot enjoy it at a first glance. This is due to the colour harmony and the balance of textures, as well as images that people have been earlier exposed to--such as a face or and hand or a crayon pencil.

The viewers can guess, think or come to some understanding. If they speak to Khalid, who is always at a hand, they are compelled to comprehend the depth of the thought process. The artist does not mean to titillate the viewer's fancy for the decorative but wishes to give them food for thought. The outlined images, mingling into one another in cascades and sweeps, speak for themselves and have a story to tell. The end product of a journey through known elements is interesting and absorbing, and not a big departure from academic work.

Dwelling on the composition and colour chart in his concept, the texture and secondary lines follow naturally, lending more harmony to the colour and shape of the images and backdrop. He plays with hues, themes and images, some of them having taken shape before he pegs them on to his composition. 'It's like the free flow of a football game: some of it can be predicted but not in the entirety,' he says.

He proceeds and combines--with instrumental music in the background--at one go, as far as possible, placing many canvases before him in his Dhanmondi studio. Folk instrumental music of all types, Rabindra Sangeet and piped African music helps me immensely. in my work,' Khalid says.

He adds and subtracts items from his canvas as he works along. His emotional output is sometimes tagged onto to some lyrical lines of Lalon songs, such as the famous ochin pakhi subject, often seen in the works of young local artists. 'I add sculpture to acrylic, and at times musical notes play through, so to say. Even my experience as a cinematographer has affected my work,' he continues.

Khalid is also a well-known cinematographer, having made innumerable films for ntv, ATN, BTV and other channels-- some of the films being aired even in Europe. 'The only big difference for me between painting and shooting of films is that I work alone while painting and I work with a crew in films,' Khalid comments. He adds that his experience in making films helps him with his painting in some subtle way, just as his artistic sensibility gives him various nuances while conceiving and directing his films.

Mahmubul Amin, Shahid Kabir and Mahmudul Haque were the guiding forces in Khaild's student days. Later, Tapis (from Spain), John Motherwell (in USA), Jhau Bothers (in China, who worked together on a single canvas) had further influence in his work. Khalid has won six awards for his painting and 20 prizes for his TV films and photography.

A mixed media work by Khalid