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    Volume 9 Issue 11| March 12, 2010|

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Bloodbath and Bullets

Fayza Haq

The war file 026, 2009

Ahmed Nazir is an artist who contemplates the entire world situation and not just his own Bangladesh. A painter and print-maker of international repute, he shies away, when reminded that he is the son of maestro Safiuddin Ahmed. Supposing genes transfer genius, Ahmed Nazir's several feats have their roots in the ambiance of his home -- definitely an enlightened place. His latest exhibition starts on March 12 and ends on March 24.

His earlier paintings were characterized by idyllic and positive images -- although they too were post-modern pieces -- dwelling on dreams and the symbolic moon image. Today, he dwells on bullet marks on walls, with dripping red blood, and dark X-ray vision, with X-ray plates. His prints are powerful, and produced after a tremendous amount of deliberation and care. To move away from the thought of turmoil, prevalent the world over, Ahmed Nazir goes back to his romantic paintings, which he does with pastel colors and fine brushwork.

Tracing Bangladesh and his personal achievement, the artist says," Considering Bangladesh and the

Ahmed Nazir

Liberation, there has been definite impact on every artists' work here. My 'Moon-Dream' series, seen at different venues, since 1995 also draws inspiration from the Liberation war." He says that his X-ray images, seen recently, are positive too. What you see internationally and at home, whether one calls it terrorism the world over, or the recent experiences of Bangladesh, the issues should be examined in a deeper sense. We must turn inwards and examine ourselves. This is necessary for progress. Most people on our globe don't want anything evil. This is even accurate when considering a miscreant or a total war. Most individuals don't want terrorism. Yet many people suffer from it."

He believes that if we consider our inner burning this is there in everyone. Provided such emotions are expressed properly, he declares, this will; bring about ultimate success, at one time or another. No man was deliberately created evil: thus there is something beautiful and admirable in all God's creatures. " When man -- an integral part of an artist's work, is rough or crude, he is the product of his environment. One should try and change the inner burning of an individual. We tend to blame the developed world if we are citizens of the third world. Yet, I insist, this is not proper. The majority in UK and Europe don't want destruction. There is definitely a need for preservation of the earth's flora and fauna -- and we the artists, try to do this in our own way, both at home and abroad."

Earlier in his "Moon " series (painting), he captured the hearts and minds of the viewers with his lyrical semi-abstract and abstract images with fine texture work in pastel and contrasting hues. In these poetic pieces he had especially evocative of raindrops on the stained windowpanes, which he witnessed from Chittagong, where his wife Sharmeen, also an artist resided. Orange, ultramarine and emerald had seen their way into these creations. Dots, lines and curves along with circles were predominant in these art works, reminiscent of his courtship days. These were done in mixed media.

Today-- with the overwhelming socio-political and economic problems gripping the entire world, comprehended in different scenarios -- Ahmed Nazir recalls the days of fierce fighting in Bangladesh, during the Liberation War. "There is a struggle for power, which you may define as an innate lust to control through terrorism. One man rules but all are affected in one way or another, all over the world. I was five during the Liberation War. Today when havoc and misrule is the order of the day, I can't help but recall the troubled times and genocide in Bangladesh. When thousands die overseas, as an artist, I am torn with torment. I can't solve the problems abroad; I remain careworn and concerned. My work is based on the concept of a decisive drive against terrorism."

The work is concept based and semi-abstract. "When we think deeply about some subject in the modern times it is seen as abstract or semi-abstract. The images mirror the pain and anguish within -- which cannot be shown with outdated realism," he concludes.

Ahmed Nazir had gone for a trip to the Sunderbans in 2003." I found the place most inspiring. I do abstract work myself but mind you we take our forms from nature. The forest itself struck me as something out of this earth. The mangrove roots that stuck out of the water, at the base of the trees, appeared something quite unusual and abstract to me. The grass there where the deer rest appears to have an equal surface all over, as if something has clipped them from the top. A boatman there explained to me that the deer had clipped the grass uniformly, as they stood and ate in that area. Thus one has horizontal and vertical characteristics in the Sunderbans that separate it from other forests," says the artist.

Ahmed Nazir does not do realistic work, but breaks and bends forms according to his own imagination and vision. All the work in the recent exhibition of the Sunderban scenes at Café Mango had been done in acrylic on paper. He has combined realism with abstraction in his most recent work to give the viewer the pleasure of seeing the pulsating lines, forms and colours of the forest.

The people in the Sunderbans are mostly fishermen and in one of the acrylics we see them caught in a storm when the sky turns red. In another picture we get the waters and the sky in the morning with a touch of mist. The artist, in his quest for catching the different images of nature brought in the 11o'clock morning scene. After the rains, without the bright sunshine, there was still light aplenty to see the different hues of nature. In another landscape the light creeping in though the foliage created a dreamy image. Fishing and mending of nets are the subjects of the scenes. Ahmed Nazir varied the view by including subjects seen through the pleasure boat's windowpane and past the raindrops falling on the panes. The images then become misty and hazy. We are given two options, one to view nature through the clear glass and the other to witness its beauty through the falling rain. The depiction of the mangrove arial roots reaching out for air from under the salt filled water is also unique. When one shuts an eye and sees through the other they appear to be like people crossing some field.

The war file 060, 2009
The war file 02, 2009
The war file 07, 2009

Ahmed Nazir's thought-provoking prints have won accolades galore at the Cracow Triennale '07(Poland). A dedicated and driven print-maker, with his inherited genius from Safiuddin Ahmed, a living legend, he has always striven to be recognized for himself- something he has succeeded in doing over the years-- both at home and abroad. Superb both in painting and printmaking, he goes in more for prints of late, as they are easier to transport to the venues of foreign exhibitions. At present he is dealing with themes of conflict in his series "War files".


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