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     Volume 8 Issue 80 | July 31, 2009 |

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Circle and Circle-2.



Nader Rahman

K M A Quayyum has been around for a long time and in the four decades that he has practised as an artist he had mutated just about as much as his canvases. His long overdue recognition came in 1996 when he won the Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy Award for the best artwork at the 12th National Exhibition in 1996. Since then he has managed to continually produce new art while always remaining relevant. His last major solo exhibition at Saju Art Gallery three years ago was well received, but it never really afforded him the space his work demands. With gallery space around Dhaka limited one often has to lump together many pieces on the same wall, but the Bengal gallery is one of the few spaces barring Shilpakala where space is not an issue and it really adds a different dimension to Quayyum's work.

Red Yellow Blue-1.

His large fibrous pieces are given space to breathe on the walls in Bengal, as his exhilaration is fully expressed. His 'Red Yellow and Blue-1' an acrylic on canvas is a piece that catches the eye immediately. The stringy centres of the painting at times come across as cross sections of muscle. His 'Sensation Within 42' is the case that proves the point, the colours used in piece are lighter and the shapes expressed are more feminine than the rest. But the point remains the same, as there is something of a medical predisposition to the shapes and forms expressed. On closer inspection the piece seems not like the earlier cross sections of muscles and cartilage, but more of a literal translation of the image of female genitalia. At the centre of the painting there is a soft coupling of green forms which seems to accentuate the region, as do similar spaces across the canvas. 'Sensation Within 28' also puts the female sexual organs at the centre of the piece. A whirling vortex of lines, twisting and turning at every conceivable angle leaves an open and dark space in between, which is puzzling. Is he questioning the very 'Origin of the World' as Gustave Courbet did. The answer is as vague as the centre of the piece, the vortex encases what he sees to be the very essence of what it is to be female. He neither lauds it nor does he denigrate it, in fact he possibly views it as a sort of medical examination, just with a little soul.

Sensation Within-5.

From the feminine we move to the masculine where albeit under the guise of green foliage there lies quite a bit of phallic imagery. 'Sensation Within 5' is overly wrought with the male genitals seeming almost directionless. The worm/long green foliage, point in every which direction, they swing left and right and create an almost androgynous feeling to the painting even though they are its main focus. The directionless phallic imagery seems quite the opposite to the strong and assured female forms. The fish is also a recurring motif in his work with them at times swimming around each other in a sort of endless cycle.

Sensation Within-28.

His watercolours are as assured as his earlier work, they are immaculate and together with his mixed media's on paper it really captures his faultless technique. The only problem is that at times they are lumped together and one is not allowed to view them in isolation from the rest. The curator of the show should be particularly proud of the selection he put together for this exhibition, as he has successfully cobbled together a wide selection of works which represent his work in an entirety. This was by no means a complete investigation into his work, but it was a good reader to start off with. Quayyum's 'Sensation Within' is an exhibition which does not trace out the artists roots, but it does represent a very good collection of his work. The piece which really draws ones attention is 'Circle and Circle 2', on a large canvas with the most delicate touch Quayyum created a space which would most likely see if an atom was split. Yet again he is looking under our skin and trying to find out who we really are. His search goes on.


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