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     Volume 4 Issue 37 | March 11, 2005 |

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Time and Space in Gridlock

Mustafa Zaman

Uttam Kumar Das has clarity of vision as well as tidiness in mind. In person he is soft-spoken. His works reflect the same exacting attitude.

His dexterity undoubtedly has the power to gravitate viewers of all kinds. With their distinct graphic quality, the paintings encourage closer inspection.

His works are about stillness. Stuck in limbo, all things lose their significance to announce the essence that the artist strives to search for in his strangely ordered world. It is the convergence of things through which the artist tries to give voice to the perceived message.

Although he lacks the philosophical strength to build a strong premise, through his neatly drawn spider webs, star constellations, spheres or amoeba-like forms, he tries and explains the unexplainable. Having lost two sisters who committed suicide, Uttam embarks on the journey to find out why. His search has given birth to paintings that he titled "Cause of Suicide."

The objects that hovers on a pale yellow surface in a series of works titled, "Frame of Life," too, allude to the puzzle that life has to offer. These two works suggest that the artist is trying to unlock the cognitive sphere through representation of objects that correspond to discovery and knowledge or, to imagine further, enlightenment.

However philosophically inclined it may seem, Uttam's first solo at the Zainul Gallery, Institute of Fine Arts, is an exercise in his ability to represent his chosen subjects. Spider and webs seem to be the main theme he harped on to perfection. As a young painter who majored in Botani from National University and than went on to acquire a five-year diploma from Bulbul Lalitkala Academy of Fine Arts, he is capable of extreme realism and consummate abstraction. His environment paintings, where he puts the equations of erosion of the ozone layer in clear term of chemistry by indicating CFC, CO2, CH4 or N2O as prime offenders, takes the idea of pitching a message too far. There is this line between scientific discovery and the artistic one, which, it seems, eludes Uttam. He makes effort to be a purveyor of an already known fact.

If he fails in the environmental arena, Uttam comfortably flexes his muscle in the cosmo-organic zone. In couple of smallish paintings his vision of the eternal finds a visually interesting form. By setting the cosmic frontier against the presence of biological forms he seems confident. In "Target -- We and I," a morphed human finds its place among the amoeba-like creatures. This is where he strikes gold.

His Large, dark paintings, also titled "Target -- We and I," are exercises in putting disparate subjects on a single horizon. The photo-realistically rendered circuits of the micro-electronics, framed in biomorphic forms, hover on the night sky, or so it seems. This fusion may open up a floodgate for the artist if this reconciliation between the opposites can express meaning. If it remains as obtuse as it is now, the works will remain an exercise in futility. Lucky for Uttam, who was born in 1975, he has all the years of artistic actions ahead of him.

The show -- "Endangered Mind of Five Years" -- accumulates Uttam's efforts of last five years. The exhibition was open to the visitors from 1 to 7 March of this year.


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