The Colours of Emotions
Memory of Penang Hill (2); Mixed media.
For any artist colours represent emotions, sometimes vague, at other times specific and poignant. Being preoccupied by the nuances and music of colour has been a long time passion for Najma Akhter, whose third solo exhibition started at alliance Francaise on October 16. Originally known for her excellent work in the Oriental tradition in the 1980s, she has changed course since then and moved towards abstraction. the current exhibition is an evocative collection of paintings where colours and their subtle transformations dictate mood and expression.
Monirul Islam, a master in abstracts, on a visit to Dhaka from Madrid where he lives says that he is says that he is pleased to see Najma's versatility. "What is interesting," he says "is that she is not in pursuit of doing a number of paintings just to get a collection of paintings with numerous styles, themes, etc just please the viewers-- as some young artists tend to do, specially the relatively young and aspiring.
" She has followed her style all throughout her paintings. Her paintings are expansions of her memories and dreams, the amalgamation of images, colours. Najma's works are not "factory made". She's used only three colours. Najma is simple and straightforward. Every painting has its mood and atmosphere. They are all abstract, and one does not see any image, as such, unless one concentrates hard and refers to the artist. The images are for the artist to keep or not to keep. Najma's works, whatever they are, are richer than her earlier ventures."
Monirul Islam adds, that Najma is asking questions to herself, and answering them through her own investigation. What is important is that she has worked with local paper, grey board, Islam says, and that she has worked with the play of light and shade, space and images thrown on the paper. You enter into the painting, it doesn't "kick you out", Islam says. The colours remain harmonious.
Stole Memory 3 (Play Ground) Acrylic on paper.
Asked if the viewer is just expected to get an impression of the artist's mood and thoughts in the paintings, Monirul Islam says that when somebody says that he/she doesn't understand the painting he should remember that painting is like music: You cannot say that don't comprehend it: You like it or you don't like it. Fine Arts, Monirul Islam says is something that speaks for itself: paintings and sculptures are definitely "dumb", and they are there to make you speechless with wonder. In other words, art is there to make you "dumb". Plastic art is most delicate, and most sensitive expressions of mankind on earth. If one doesn't go to museums and just comes to an exhibition, one cannot just say 'I don't comprehend Najma Akhter's abstract paintings'. When one goes to a mall, for example, one sees many things and chooses what one likes. Najma's forms and colours are the same : Unconsciously, you carry out the impression of her paintings. One might feel the same way as Najma does but one cannot express the feelings or memories as the artist does, as the artist's forte is a God gifted one. Najma enjoys success as she is inspired and has worked hard to present her dreams and aspirations in the way that is most effective for the viewers.
As it takes ten years to see Prado Museum in Madrid, it surely requires some time to comprehend Najma Akhter's prowess, says Monirul Islam. Today, in the time of digital, abstract and marine art, there are special galleries for different items. "Thus every artist has his/her audience.
Going back to Najma Akhter's work, Monirul Islam, asked if it was all that earth-shattering, says, "Najma Akhter presents her own personal world, which is vital, and certainly not easy , by any measure. She expresses her feelings and drives home her personality with a clear tone. The works are landscapes, presented with the use of symbols. The language is a personal one. The use of the image of traffic lights introduces the element of a definite stoppage. When green is brought in, it reminds one of fruition. Najma uses smooth colours and mature lines. She uses bright colours like red and yellow. The impact is soft and soothing." At the same time, there are elements of sorrow, juxtaposed with more buoyant and lyrical ones. Art remains the capturing of a moment of feelings and sensations, in time and space, says Monirul Islam.
Red Moon; Acrylic on paper
Najma Akhter might come back to presenting images, sometime in future. She might oscillate from the abstract to the figurative, just as she has earlier moved from Oriental Art to abstraction. The size of the paintings is not important for a master artist like Monirul Islam.
Najma Akhter's inspirations remain Paul Klee, Morandi, and other local famous artists, like Mohammed Kibria and Rafiqun Nabi. Going by overseas standards, Najma Akhter, who has had three solo exhibitions so far, is an artist of hope and pride for Bangladesh.
The exhibition is on till October 29th.
(R) thedailystar.net 2008