Vol. 5 Num 476 Tue. September 27, 2005  

Syed Jahangir and his pulsating gold and blue

Syed Jahangir, who has been painting now for 55 years, is holding his solo at Saju art gallery. So far, in all, he has painted 9000 oils, watercolours and mixed medias.

Asked if the exhibit brings in new themes or techniques, Jahangir says, "It is the Mati-o-manush theme that I've painted for five years. I find it fascinating to use the same ultramarine and gold, the yellow representing the earth, the blue the sky and rivers of Bangladesh. Yellow ochre and cadmium yellow have been used profusely to recall the harvesting time and its festivals. The gypsy and sail boats have been included. I have also brought in ink drawings and thin acrylic work done with water, which have an element of marked opaqueness. The drawings depict boats, flying birds, resting women and gathering of people. The ink is merged with the paper."

"I've been using a palette knife for the last 10 years. I find this comfortable. Now I do the contours and lines with the knife. I've also used rubber rollers for special effect on the pigment. I've tried to bring in a touch of Van Gogh though the lines have been applied faster. I find it convenient to express my feelings with a palette knife," he adds.

When he did paintings like fishing in the moonlight, he brought in childhood memories of the village. One of the pictures has been inspired by a grand niece who was playing with his equipment, colours and papers. Very often he has brought in the moon, and in Sunny Day there's both the sun and the moon on one canvas. All throughout he has presented man coexisting with nature.

Asked how he felt about his work, Jahangir says, " I'm satisfied with the 60 works. I've worked with each painting for a fairly long time. Some paintings finished in two days and others in a week. I sometimes worked for a few days at some, and at times for days together, from morning till night. Most of the work has been done in the last two years."

He does not make any sketches beforehand. He paints as his emotions take him, after meditating before the canvas for five minutes. "In my travels in Zimbabwe, I came across sculptors who sat before their work, planning out how the stone pieces would take shape. In my case too I put in some lines and forms and see how the painting progresses. I work along as my feelings develop," he explains.

Jahangir's teachers had been Zainul Abedin, Shafiuddin Ahmed and Quamrul Hassan, when he joined the Art College in 1950. They taught him the European academic way of painting. " It was like learning classical music to sing any genre of music later on," comments Jahangir. He then went overseas and studied the paintings in the museums there in UK, Europe and USA. " While I was interested in the works of Van Gogh, Kandinsky and Picasso I felt that my paintings should bring images from my own country," he adds.

Among his many awards is the Ekushey Padak in 1985.

Syed Jahangir with one of his works