Check It Out
Humour and pathos
We all wear masks, and the time comes when we cannot remove them without removing some of our own skin.
Going through the motions of life, everyone has roles to juggle, characters to enact, and faces to wear to the public. Perhaps this is why there is this intrinsic fascination towards masks, what they reveal and what they hide.
Masks in the past have been used for rituals. They were used as disguise, when going hunting. Today they are found in celebrations in Africa, Australia, Brazil, India, and Nepal and even in Bangladesh during Pohela Boishak.
Galleri Kaya brings in 14 artists together in an exhibition titled "Mukh-o-Mukhosh". Made of clay, wood, metal, burnt clay, cardboard, papier mache and glass, along with found objects, the masks seen at the event are unique and mind-stirring indeed.
Saidul Haque Juis presents tall masks this year, four feet high and six inches across, blending paper with sand and sawdust, embellished with colour and ornaments over the head, eyelids and nose. Kazi Raqib has brought in etchings on glasses mounted by 30 faces painted on oblong glass pieces, framed in black. The etchings in the backdrop include scenes with trees, pathways and windows. The tiny portraits contain facial features painted with a touch of humour, in black and red. He has also used blown glass to create masks; some being transparent while others are frosted and painted.
Sabine Shahriar has combined wood and metal to create his pieces. The wood is burnt and ingrained to get textured effects. Tin and copper foils have been included in the portraits of a couple. Bishzit Paul, who usually works in terracotta, has used burnt clay in his four pieces. One presents horror with a twisted face, skulking eyes and a broad nose. Then there is his regal pair with crowns, with hooded snakes in place of eye-lids of the male, and hollow centres for the pupils of the queen. His other entry has beads in the twisted facial features.
Sandib Kumar Debnath has used wood to depict faces with unusual renditions of teeth and eyes. Most of Debnath's creations have African influence, with thick, protruding lips and geometrical noses. One flaunts a moustache and designs on the cheeks and tongue hanging out. He has added coloured ropes and additional pieces of wood, which are not burnt or polished like the rest of the masks. Khandakar Nasir has retained natural wood textures. To this he had added subtle hues of black and red. Some of them have a basic effect- almost some childlike creation.
Abdur Rahim has curving mouths and noses in his woodwork. Chiseled and polished effects are to be seen. Different dimensions have been captured in the same mask. The moustache of the old warrior, who sports a helmet, has flecks, dots and streaks of pale brown to lend interest. Nasrin Shahriar's faces of lions and tigers are done on beaten copper sheets. The metal has vibrant tones of chrome red and green. This is juxtaposed with copper wires and burnt wood.
Masuda Kazi's masks are purple, blue and greenish with glass marbles, mounted on glass, for the pupils of the eyes- so that the audience can virtually interact with the pieces. Sawdust is what Nurul Islam has used for his medium for his masks. These are coloured black and appear quite dramatic. Lafiza Najmin has used coloured fibreglass to present pieces that range from the face of a cow to that of a woman or are a mythical mixture of human and beast. Ratan Sarkar presents faces of royalties, which include glass beads for decoration.
Shapes and colours in masks, as seen at Galleri Kaya are fascinating indeed. They combine myths, legends and modern existence. The exhibition is open for all daily from 11am to 8pm and will continue till the 25thof January at House 20, Road 16, Sector 4, Uttara.
By Fayza Haq
Photo: Sazzad Ibne Sayed and courtesy Galleri Kaya