<%-- Page Title--%> Arts <%-- End Page Title--%>

<%-- Volume Number --%> Vol 1 Num 136 <%-- End Volume Number --%>

January 2, 2004

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Of Sphere And Absolute Form

Mustafa Zaman

Plato believed that absolute circle only existed in the mind. The artist can only produce a copy of that in the form of his or her art. Mohammad Fokhrul Islam seems to be in gear to disprove this. He is bent on giving the circle a new lease of life, or rather the idea of a circle proposed as an art form a new expressive quality.

In his solo show of paintings, spherical elements abound. The monochrome images beckon the viewers and make them stand still, to contemplate of course.

Fokhrul's whole oeuvre is reminiscent of the cosmic spheres. They bring into mind the relays of images seen in old-era books of cosmos printed in black and white. But, basically they are strewn with self-referential elements. In short, his works thrive in their intrinsic beauty. From subtle to delicate development of perforations, extrusions and marks, to striking arrangement of spaces defined by their darkness and lightness, Fokhrul's work simply overwhelm our retina.

Image-12, oil on paper.

However, one should remember that he started out as a romantic trying to bring the observed reality into the visual domain. His landscape-like works from the mid-90s and the pure abstractions that followed them, were all indicative of his emotional involvement with nature. "Those who always talk about reading books, do they read reality or even the pattern of the leaves that a particular tree adheres to?" he used to argue. As for now, he has stepped into a purist language of art.

The evidence of abstract concept is everywhere in the walls of Bengal Gallery. The idea of 'painting as painting' is vigorously explored in most of the pictures. In a presentation that uses a series of longish pictures, the artist shows how a whitish sphere is poised on a thick line that can be perceived as a thick plank observed sideways. He plays with this abstract idea of a ball being balanced on all the series. The painting in the middle, the central piece, is the one that shows the ball being rested on a plank that stays still and is in perfect horizontal level. In the paintings of the both sides, this same platform is being manipulated. In these lateral frames, the platform is slightly tilted, the tilt is great in work furthest from the central piece, and in both the works right next to it the plank almost becomes level.

There are other pictures that explore spheres. These new works are more finished in look, and seems well thought out. They are more about form than about feeling. The construction, the firm built is given salience. Cognitive factors, or sensation takes a back seat. Perhaps this is the end that all mature abstraction reaches.

But there are remnants of the romantically inclined man that still grips our imagination. In work like Image-39, the sphere is a loosely constructed perforations and marks. In fact, the marks make the sphere break free of its formal roundness, which makes it all the more emotionally toned. More tilted to this temperament is Image-52. In it, darkness pervades and the splash of light around few concentrated horizontal lines and dots become a beacon of hope in the middle of a dark, blank space.

Fokhrul never was a man given to despair; this fact blends in with every presentation of his solo.


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