Vol. 5 Num 400 Tue. July 12, 2005  

Dialogue between two cultures

Dhali Al Mamoon explained that he had recently run a workshop in painting to create a dialogue between French and Bangladeshi culture. The result of the workshop was recently on view at the Alliance Francaise gallery.

"We decided to reconstruct some well-known French paintings, according to the needs of the 21st century. The young artists interpreted the masterpieces in their own way and created canvases based on these well-known paintings. They had transferred the main idea according to the local concept, in terms of the technique and the content. We told the artists that they could not change the basic composition, although they could change the language and the treatment. One should be able to understand that the painting is based on Luncheon on the grass or Liberty leading," said Dhali Al Mamoon.

Toufiq took Luncheon on the grass and showed how Bangalees love going to Chittagong for holidays. In the background, an ethnic character is put in a hazy manner. This is to show the rift between the Hill Tracts people and the Bangalees. The green, shadowy version of the picnic presents a night scene with local sex workers.

Shaila Sharmeen has worked on Delacroix's painting on liberty connected with the French Revolution. She has also brought in the Statue of Liberty and the situation in the Middle East along with the images of the burning twin towers of USA and two paper boats. Ancient Babylonian civilization has also been included in the canvas. The main figure is wearing a sari instead of a skirt and blouse. A third interpretation by Nupur showed lack of order in the cities with kidnapping, theft and murder being rampant. Ashraful Hasan had interpreted the same Delacroix painting by bringing in branches, trunks and roots of trees where there were human figures in the original. The flag of Bangladesh had been subtly included too.

Georges Seurat's Grande jatte has been converted into Patenga beach by Hasna Hena. She brought in her own experiences of how she had to wear a burkha when she was in a school. The artist had included religious zealots with round caps and beards. Osman Pasha had his own interpretation of the painting. He had included the plight of physically handicapped people in his adaptation of Seurat's work. Zahid Ali's interpretation of the same painting by Seurat included animals, birds and fish along with deities and mermaid-type creatures. The border of the canvas was made to appear like garish rickshaw art in orange, green and yellow. Dots had been included in a big way on the entire canvas.

Tasadduk Hossain Dulu had taken Cezanne's Card players and put his own characters in gamchcha and genji. A female figure had been included which was not there in the original. One of the characters had his own face with the walrus moustache and very little hair on the head.

"It was not easy to select the masterpieces to be adapted by our own artists. It is also not easy to assimilate a painting going by local elements found in it. The park and card players could have their counterparts, I had thought. Similarly, the theme of the revolutionary war and the picnic could be adapted too," said Dhali Al Mamoon.

The artists who had taken part in the workshop were Asraful Hasan, Goutom Paul, Hasna Hena, Toufiqul Islam Bhuiyan, Saem Hossen, Osman Pasha, Sajib Barua, Shaila Sharmin, Tasadduk Hossain Dulu, Yasmin Jahan Nupur and Zahed Ali Chowdhury.

Sanjib Barua's transformation of Paul Cezanne's Les Joueurs De Cartes