Vol. 5 Num 1099 Wed. July 04, 2007  

National Art Biennale '07
Gulshan Hossain and her award-winning abstraction

Artist Gulshan Hossain won the Dipa Haq Award at the ongoing National Art Biennale for her innovative painting Archaeological Report of Romeo and Juliet. The month-long biennale has been organised by the Department of Art, Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy.

Though she had won several awards at prestigious art competitions overseas, this is the first time Gulshan has won a major national award. A beaming Gulshan says, "I consider the recognition at home as my greatest achievement so far. However, this doesn't mean I've reached my creative peak. Whenever I receive an award, I feel the urge to do something better."

The novelty of presenting Shakespeare's familiar tragic love story, Romeo and Juliet, with acrylic by Gulshan has received wide acclaim at the Biennale. About the Archaeological Report of Romeo and Juliet series, Gulshan says, "I've tried to present a possibility of finding the eternal lovers' skulls and other materials unearthed through an archaeological excavation. I believe their remains would have told us about their 'unfulfilled' love, which I have tried to capture on my semi-abstract canvas."

The artist has included skulls, masks, cart and others. The theme has been presented by using blue, black and mauve colours, in the way abstractionists usually do.

According to Gulshan, "I prefer abstraction to figurative, as the viewers have the freedom to interpret an abstract canvas using their individual sense of perception. Even the artist can deliver several messages without actually pointing out the obvious.

Figurative, on the other hand, is more vocal."

Gulshan uses figures on abstract canvas to communicate with the viewers. The artist wants to be versatile when it comes to presentation as well as use of materials.

Gulshan says, "I don't want to be monotonous. I'm influenced by the diversity in expression dominant in Picasso's work. At a workshop conducted by eminent artist Aminul Islam, I learnt the technique of using oil colours in an innovative way. I have employed the techniques in my own way."

Though its been a few years since Gulshan has made a name for herself in the local arts circle, the artist completed her Bachelors in Fine Arts from the University of Alternative Development (UDA) just last year. Gulshan explains, "I completed my Bachelors and Masters in Political Science from University of Dhaka and participated at art exhibitions both at home and abroad. However, certain artists in the country were critical about me not having any academic knowledge on arts. To acquire academic knowledge on arts I enrolled in UDA. I completed my B. A , securing the first class first position."

Prior to receiving the Dipa Haq Award, Gulshan Hossain has won the Honourable Mention Award at the Sharjah Ladies Club Competition in 2006 and Second Prize in Abstract and Surrealism at the International Miniature Art Show in Florida, USA in 2003.

The artist at work (left) & Archaeological Report of Romeo and Juliet, Gulshan Hossain's award-winning artwork (right)