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    Volume 9 Issue 2 | January 8, 2010|

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Fakhrul's Songs of Life and Living

Fayza Haq
Image-14, Oil on Paper, 2008

Mohammed Fakhrul Islam, whose current exhibit is on at the Alliance Francaise, studied in China for his higher studies. Earlier, he was a student of the Fine Arts Department of Dhaka University. He has impressed the Indian and other overseas collectors with his power of dramatic and decisive lines in black, which are done with ink and pen. At the back of these lines, which have been done with poise and perfection contain the presence of the backdrop of mustard yellow. This was brought in by the inclusion of mustard oil. Print ink and mustard oil present his thought content and focus.

One has seen him drawing lines repeatedly on his sketchbook, at the Cafe Varandha, Alliance Francaise, and knows that he is perhaps the only senior painter that one can rely on. One that has images, ideas and symbols of his own mind, and who has not copied them from some book or magazine -- and who does not boast about his prowess. Other artists have their siblings and friends to hang the paintings. Fakhrul is a loner and an introvert. He studies the world quietly and goes his about his way in a simple fashion. He does not chat and comment, like so many other local artists of repute. He has never bragged or indulged in unnecessary indulgence in "addas". This gentle and self-effacing bearer of images presents themes from Bangladesh in a brave and poised manner.

The ambiance of Bangladesh, with its floods and famines, and its pell-mell jerry buildings in the cosmopolitan city of Dhaka -- with possible escapes in the villages -- or in flights of fancy. These have been depicted carefully and subtly. The artist's power and energy have won him accolades from "Art Heritage" in many countries. Critiques have said that the "celebration of the richness" of Fakhrul's thoughts, lend one courage and fortitude. It helps one to escape from the pervading life of the twenty-first century the world over. The artist aids the viewer to lead his/her life with "courage and dignity". His cityscapes and nightscapes present denials and hopes -- in a dramatic and daring way. The artist is surely a unique "Pied Piper," presenting his songs of life. This is done with aplomb and an intrinsic romantic imagination. This is done by the inclusion of "The mirror and the lamp."

The artist's 40 paintings seen in Fakhrul's latest endeavour-- have been carefully selected from innumerable collection of all his paintings on the boards. Throughout his essays, his focus and themes remain both on the developed and the third world. The artist is well aware of poverty and industrialisation. The artist brings in optimism-- even when he has various types of pollution and world heritage in mind. He has the progress of mankind in his vision. He dreams of a future of tranquility-- even with the threat of various cold wars and what you will. He believes that the current craze for power could be reversed -- so that the universe is a better place for flora and fauna.


Image-20, Oil on Paper, 2008.

Yes, Fakhrul has included gloom and despair -- but this is only to gently warn people of the dire consequences so that mankind does not " rush in where angels fear to tread". Studying the manner of his series of thought, one realises that the artist has pointed to possible future disasters. Of course, studying recorded history of mankind, this is both probable and possible. The artist's contemplation on life's harmony has been done on mounted boards, as it has been done earlier, as seen in Dhaka. The art love has been fascinated by the print-like presentations of Fakhrul's works, today and in the gone by displays.

The eye-relief has been included by leaving large masses of white in the backdrop and elsewhere, in his imaginative paintings. The boards that the artist has used have an up and down surface which lends it grace and peace. He does push and stab his backdrop and frontal space. He does this with the passion of a driven creative person. The artist brings in a decisive sense of belonging with his textures. There is a pearl-like gleam where the print-ink has not seeped in.

There is a sense of idyll in his compositions as the colours and images have not been put in without contemplation. He presents a harmony of nature and man, despite the abstraction of his images. He is certainly not out to shock, in order to capture the attention of the art buff -- which had been done ages back, in the last century. Calmly and collectively, he goes through the journey of life, in the best possible manner.

One is not confused by the colour combinations and compositions of his images on the surfaces of his gleaming boards. By following Fakhrul's trend of thoughts, one gains hopes to march on like brave individuals through the cloudy and sunny days. His aesthetics and sensibility are easy to gather in one has the "time to stand and stare", and when one is not carried away by the recent rush of the past two centuries, to get ahead of the others. The artist mixes abstraction with figures and thus combines the spirit and the body. Fakhrul's use of symbols has a positive meaning behind them.

The artist goes in for the universal rather than the particular and local. He proves, without doubt, what Patricia Guitto of Italy says, of making successful paintings-- with minimal colours. Other numerous local and overseas critiques have admired his sensitivity and emotional intensity. Fakhrul's exhibits, both at home and abroad, have been praised to the hilt and beyond. One is speechless with wonder with his inimitable geometrical precision in presenting seed bursts, spots, rips, splinters and gashes. These present romantic images -- like moonlight skies, dark forests -- along with high-rise urban buildings. His smudges and blotches bring in the "agony and ecstasy of life."



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