Expressionist Woodcuts with Rosin and Glass
Dark Colours that Express the Unknown
Juneer Kibria, with four years of education in art in the US, has his ongoing exhibition of prints at Bengal Gallery. Where he lives provides the ideal environment for creative work he says, as it is fall of musicians, artists, philosophers and writers. "There's a wide variety of exposure with the Renaissance movement going on in the contemporary art scene. But when I'm there I don't forget about my roots. Bangladesh is my home and I always come back here," says Juneer. "When I was in college my professors inspired me, specially my print making professor, Kevin Salzman. He pushed me to do experimental work, to look at art with two perspectives: One, in terms of experiments which will be viable compositions, and second that everything should fall into a comprehensive design. From my father who I watched working everyday, I learnt aspects of colour theory: How to apply the paint, what it means," says Juneer.
Juneer did about two years of research in philosophy of what he wanted to express when in Chicago. He is not out to please his viewers but rather understand what he wants to express in his prints. Since his art is not direct it is up to the viewers to make what they want of what he presents. As an artist, he communicates visually. First he experimented with what he wanted to express visually, ie the philosophy field, says Juneer. The second field is the experimentation with the material itself." This time, compared to the last solo painting exhibition at Bengal Gallery, it is more transparent and organic," says Juneer.
He uses glass, wax and rosin, a pine sap, at the same time. He chose the material as it reminded him of amber, which often encases insects in Natural History museums. His tints are subtle and muted, as they bring out the tortured textures. The hairline fractures and bubbles, he says, are integral to his work. There are other pieces with vibrant colours such as shades of yellow and blue to express his themes. The works are not pure abstract as they often contain images.
Marianna Bracht elaborates on his work," In the late
evening, when one is alone, contemplating one's pain or one's loved one's, how does one express the often invisible impact of illness ? In essence his wood-cut prints are symbolic x-rays; the images carved out and the negatives of these images translated into paper. His choice of muted, dark colours express what is unknown and feared… He tackles both the physical and the metaphysical realms of illness."
Chicago has a more laid-back atmosphere than places like New York, according to Juneer."It is more peaceful than any other place in America. It has a very vibrant culture, specially in terms of art and music. Another reason why I live in Chicago because my wife chose to study at the art institution in that city. We've made the place our home, and we have some wonderful friends -- gallery people, writers, etc. New York is more hectic and what got to me there was the lack of communication between the people there."
His last exhibition "Fragile", at Bengal Gallery, was more straightforward and less organic. It contained painting and mixed media. This time, with his prints, which he studied at Wittenberg University, in "Stimulated Luminescence" he has expressionistic woodcuts.
Coming back to Dhaka, from time to time, Juneer works on designing, such as for the Society for Promotion of Bangladesh Art ."I always try to keep myself busy, even when I'm back home. This time my friend, artist Rafi Haque inspired me. My mother has always been a great help to me all along," says Juneer.
Is it being difficult being Muhammad Kibria's son? "I want to be taken seriously and not stand behind my father's shadow. As Kibria's son they expect a certain style. He is a wonderful teacher. However, I want to be recognised for myself," says Juneer.
Sketches that Speak for Themselves
At Asiatic Gallery one sees a fine collection of swiftly sketched drawings with pen, pencil and a few strokes of acrylic with brush. This is the collective work done by 23 young Bangladeshi artists, and five visiting Nepali artists, who had their exhibition, earlier, at Dhaka, at the same premises. Guided by Hamiduzzaman Khan, the young artists had a workshop of a day in which they completed innumerable pieces -- touching on man, nature, landscape, objects and imaginary compositions. Why was drawing chosen as the medium? "Drawing is the basis of good art work and is important for effective compositions," says Hamiduzzaman, who conducted the one-day workshop. "I did not guide them, as such. The artists worked according to their own style and imagination. We selected 56 pieces from the outcome. They are all fairly remarkable, considering their youth. Many are modern in concept, such as the one on the switchboard by Mokadesur. Pastel is subtlely added at times. Sometimes brown or black paper was used. Adnan Sufiyan's charcoal on brown paper is eye-catching too for its drama, " says Hamiduzzaan.
Hamiduzzaman Khan has an entry of his own. "This is a symbolic piece. in this I bring in the earth in a simple circle, sky, and a positive future for our country in the sketched in flight of birds, which stand for peace," he says . Ivy Zaman's work is another simple item, bringing in the image of a seated, contemplating Buddha, which fascinated her immensely in her last trip to the Far East.
Dewan Mizan, despite being a cancer patient, has turned out dynamic pieces with strong strokes, presenting 50 portraits of imaginary people. Mizan is a part-time teacher at SMUCT, and received an honourable mention in the 15th National Exhibition. Rashed Kamal Russel's work is equally dramatic, as he brings in a village scene, with a thatched shed and a passer by. He too is a lecturer of Fine Arts. Nazmul Alam's piece contains a portrait , surrounded by sketches of details of the same female face -- such as her eye, lips and nose.
The line work presenting the top of a bottle by Mahbubul Alam, another young teacher of UODA (University of Alternate Alternative), is a fine sample of conventional drawing. The seated female figure , complete with bangles and rippling wavy hair, by Akhamul Haque is also moving. Imaginary compositions of dragons and humans, elaborate with eyes and horns, by Junaid Mustafa Chowdhury and Rania Alam are admirable too.
The Nepalese artists like Kishor Nakarmi, Nar Bahadur and Chandra Shyam Dangol have brought in images that hark back to their homeland with a statue of Buddha, perspective of a narrow lane ending in lit up pagoda, and a line of rickshaws, inspired by the stay at Dhaka, are interesting for their detailed line work, as well as play of light and shadow.
It is admirable indeed that work comprising of a single day has resulted in a roomful of absorbing drawing work. Although mostly limited to black and white, the variety of styles and subjects speak of talent and perseverance.
(R) thedailystar.net 2009