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     Volume 8 Issue 62 | March 20, 2009 |

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Kanak's Canvasses Lapped up in Far Eastern Capitals

Fayza Haq

In the Evening, Kanak Chanpa Chakma, Acrylic on Canvas.

Kanak Chanpa Chakma, who revels in her trips abroad, enjoyed every moment of her trips to China , Malaysia, other parts of Asia , and the US. In China alone she had the opportunity to meet more than a hundred artists, and was thrilled to have the opportunity to exchange her ideas and views with them. These included artists from England, the USA and Australia. The trip naturally gave Kanak access to the Great Wall , whose beauty and grandeur overwhelmed her, although she had seen it earlier on a previous occasion. Her view of the Forbidden City, gave her the opportunity to see the clothes, weapons, coins, furniture and jewellery used by the royal families of the past. To see these unusual artifacts of the past, and to be allowed where few people are, was an experience she said she would treasure all her life. Again, MaoTse Tung's tomb was also impressive and awe inspiring. "The Chinese truly revere their leader and stand in long queues to see his embalmed body," says Kanak.

The collection of foreign paintings in Beijing, originating from 300 countries, was also breathtaking, says Kanak. There were many hundred paintings by Chinese artists too. The rare opportunity to see both traditional and modern Chinese paintings was unusual indeed. "Centuries back, they painted on scrolls and brought in subjects like clouds, bamboo leaves, lotus flowers, bears, exotic birds, tigers, rivers, mountains and figures in long robes. Modern Chinese compositions, in turn, are huge and can compete with anything else in the world -- moving away from the traditional subjects, compositions and colours. Their abstract figures blended with the products of the contemporary world. However, beyond conventional greetings we managed to convey little else to the Chinese artists through our interpreters. We next went to Kunming and saw indigenous tribes whose heavy jewellery and clothes had similarities with those of our own Bangladeshi Hill tribes, which naturally delighted me. Their preservation of nature's greenery was also something to admire, and take lessons from," says Kanak.

At that time, Kanak had a solo exhibition of 30 paintings at Beijing at Art Land Gallery, which lasted for a month. The curators there felt that there was something in Kanak's art which was similar to that of contemporary Chinese paintings, and they were specially interested in her tribal figures and landscapes. "They were also keen on some of the depiction that related to Buddhism, as today too there are believers in Buddhism in China. The blending of impressionism style with depiction of contemporary Hill Tracts life and living appealed to them" says Kanak.

Festival, Kanak Chanpa Chakma, Acrylic on Canvas.

In Singapore and Malaysia, about the same time, Kanak had her exhibitions dealing with indigenous festivals, moments in everyday life, and lifestyle of Buddhist monks.

This was followed by her exhibition in Muscat, Oman, where Kanak was surprised that art connoisseurs in the Middle East liked her work which included some figures too. She was asked to send in more paintings for a following exhibition, where she had a display with three other famous artists from Oman. "They specially asked for my figurative paintings and I was delighted to find that most of my 15 paintings were sold outright, " says Kanak.

This was followed by her trip to New York, where she participated in Contemporary Asian Art Exhibition with five other Bangladeshi artists. Here too she found a warm response, despite the recent economic recession. "In places like the US, art lovers have known my name, as I've been exhibiting here for over a decade. I was surprised that even in the Far East, people were keen to own paintings done by me. Their response to my work overwhelmed me no end. I was pleased that people in the world outside learnt that there is more to Bangladesh than floods, famines and man-made disasters," says Kanak.

About the same time, Kanak also took part in the exhibition "Kolkata Dhaka", in which numerous Indian and Bangladeshi artists participated. This too widened her horizon and showcased her particular brand of paintings with acrylic on canvas.

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