From very early in his career, Shishir Bhattacharjee is well known for his political cartoons. He began drawing cartoons during the autocratic regime of Ershad. In fact, his cartoon was his tool of activism during the movement. The artist feels that it was his social responsibility to articulate protests against the dictatorial leadership. His style and expression are unique as his drawings and cartoons are very communicative. His satirical depiction of the socio-political scenario not only renders hilarity but stirs a consciousness.
After a hiatus, Shishir is holding a solo art exhibition titled ‘Daag-Tamasha’ at Dhaka Art Centre in Dhanmondi.
Shishir usually addresses religious bigotry, political and social discrimination through his drawings. His canvas concentrates on lines and drawings. He uses a unique style of drawing, combining the bizarre and the fantastic, in a surrealistic merge to create a plot of our society. His drawings present not a pleasing sight; it discloses an uncomfortable reality. Fantasy, humour and satire have always prevailed in his works. Through the exhibition, it is clear that he is not obsessed with only lines; symbolic interpretation also an integral part of his drawings. His lines are not fast; they are deliberate and meticulously done. His drawings assemble many incidents in our surroundings and it could easily be said that his drawings deliver many stories simultaneously.
What’s remarkable is that in the last few years, Shishir has given more focus on the subjects that depict social, cultural and natural realism. However minor or significant the issues are, he has depicted them bravely, while political themes have been a little out of focus over the years. Flowers, grass, leaves, branches of tree, a two-faced dog, sandals, telephone wires, knives, a man with severed arm, a smile that has left the face, animal mask on a human face, a sock wearing cat inside a pigeon and distorted faces are recurring elements in his works.
It should be mentioned that in the 1980s Shishir Bhattacharjee, along with his contemporaries like Dali Al Mamun, Dilara Begum Jolly, Nisar Hossain, Habibur Rahman, Saidul Haque Juise formed a group named ‘Somoy’, which produced art that became the voice against all sorts of social evils. They diverged from the popular “art is beauty” concept, and were considered “anti-establishment”. As a movement, it attacked the established traditions of art, employing a barrage of demonstrations, as well as holding expositions of absurd art. However, the group did not continue their artistic activities regularly for long, as some of them (including Shishir) started to focus on their individual efforts.
Shishir’s Dhaka Art Centre exhibition ends on March 24.