Dream of Future
has been the artist with a penchant for innovation. Back in
the eighties his large, squire paintings on polyvinyl sheets
were his signature block of space where all things technical
and artistic intermingled. When in 1991, he was awarded the
Monbushu scholarship in Japan, his works veered to a different
direction. "There are two conflicting attitudes towards
painting that I developed during my stay in Japan," says
was a painter from Bangladesh who had already earned fame, received
the highest award -- the gold medal in the Asian Biennial, by
successfully combining the socially concerned thread with the
dominant abstract idiom. "In Japan, I could not remain
untouched by all the modern ways that I was confronted with.
During last ten years of my study I simply tried to meld the
new experiences with what I lugged with me while going to Japan."
says Kabir, who has been living in Japan since 1991.
has been instrumental in trying to bridge the gap between Bangladesh
and Japan for last ten years or so. In the regime of art he
has, so far, introduced a series of exchange programmes of sorts
by organising exhibitions of Japanese artists in Bangladesh
and Bangladeshi artists in Japan. As for his own artistic journey,
he has come a long way from his early days of skewed humans
and screen-printed images that became his signatures. 'Rejection'
seems to be the template of a title that now stands for his
work. With his tendency to create series, Kabir's Rejection
took many dimensions. One such variants is "Rejection of
Earth" series. "In Rejection of Earth, I have incorporated
the elements that are essentially a reminder of my homeland.
The rusty nails, the scraggly patches of tin that we see in
hulls of launches or boats often sees their entry in my images,
" reveals Kabir.
elements, which Kabir calls signs of bond "as they hold
together ramshackle structures", make his otherwise abstract
colour-field paintings retain a deshi look. Now, the
same artist is out to reach newer heights. New, in a sense that
with the series "Dream of Future", he goes back to
his early works during his study in Japan. His white synthetic
canvases are back. Now, alongside the old familiar black pools
of colours, hard-edged rectangular coloured fields find their
place. The artist opines that he is trying to go back to the
beginning as now he would be able to shore up all the experience
of the work of the last ten years.
years work has been encapsulated in a big book titled "Voice
of Future". As for his works in the last three years during
his Ph.D. course in Oil Painting in Tokyo National University
of Fine Arts, these are the ones that regurgitate the works
on white ground.
is the most prolific painter of his generation and has received
numerous awards during the last ten years. The recent award
puts him in the rank of the top young artists presently working
in Japan. Kabir fetched the Foreign Minister's award in the
grand show organised by International Artists' Association where
works of varied medium was on display. The show titled "RENTEN"
was the 30th show of the organisation.
this time of unbound germination of installation and postmodern
practices, Kabir remains faithful to the retinal language of
art. He fervently believes in the experience of colour and form.
His art speaks adequately of this.
the Social Conundrum
Manzoorul Islam, the art critic, sees the artist as a chronicler
of time gone wrong, Monsur UL Karimís recent solo exhibition
may look like a homage to the power of colour and line to many.
The bond between humans and nature, and even among themselves
is exteriorised expressing boundless passion for colours and
forceful application of line. These two elements have merged
into a purposeful communion in many works.
He has been
linear since the late 80s, but had never been as vigourous in
terms of colour as he has now become. The enticing environ of
the rural is given a voice, in his recent yield. Birds in flight,
banana leaf swooping from behind, defining green and ochre patches
or even a dash of green provides the cues to the presence of
natural elements. In fact the backdrop of many of Karim's paintings
are rural Bengal. However, the scenes are transformed into a
suggestive relay of shocks of colours and sketchy shapes.
has always had this habit of creating a vortex of colour and
forms. In the recent show the tendency to soothe the eye has
been given a new lease of life. This time, Karim has intentionally
invaded his domain with the uneasy element of human relationship.
Nature recedes to the backdrop, and the social being surfaces,
becomes the main component. They are out to express their conditions
in the context of relationship among themselves. The natural
setting, in Karim's work, so far has scarcely been meddled with.
In works like "Chatting with the Shadow," "Virgin
in Black lines," relationship is given a psychological
twist. The inner turmoil -- the mental disquiet is exposed and
is being examined in the context of the society as a whole.
Both in rendition of his figures and in treating the individual
with such existential effect, Karim is beholden to Jatin Das,
a famous Indian figurative artist.
As for the
works that take a leap forward and strive to express the human
condition in its mind-boggling obscurity, Karim relies on colour.
One such work is "Aimless". The artist dehumanises
his otherwise expressionistic figures -- so much so that the
effect is of a nightmare of colour taking the shapes of splinters
of forms. The humans are broken down into haphazard brush strokes.
The azure blue backdrop and the exploding red figure leaping
out to land on another brown figure in movement, with all its
disturbing meteorology, brings into mind the works of Matisse.
mores are given a tangible form in works like "The return",
and "Destination." Karim is more into an expressionist
panorama of his own reality than into observing social maladies.
His comments are oblique and inconclusive. In this respect,
too, he is an expressionist with a marked indigenous inclination.
in his paintings are not in charge of their own destination.
They simply are a party to a greater puzzle as components of
a series of paradigms that the present society has become.
Karimís idea to present images against the backdrop of nature.
Manzoorul Islam too is of the opinion that the artist's recent
yields "promote organic forms that are premised on the
fact that change of flux is a vital principle of nature and
art". This lends support to the fact that Karim's imagery
is existential in nature and is presented in a gestural manner
to make his themes look like fleeting images fraught with disenchantment.
But the vigour that his colours bring to his imagery, are a
sign that despair is one thing he avoids. His works tend to
inspire a primordial passion for life. Perhaps this is the reason
why Karim sticks to the pictorial solution that thrives in colour
and resonant line. For him the social conundrums are thus seen
through an individualist's prism.