A Mythical World in Ceramics
If you want to decorate your new home with a dainty piece of wall decoration Ronnie Habib's ceramics pieces would be a sure hit. Ronnie's exhibition at the Zoom Gallery at Alliance Francaise includes creations taken from Greek and Hindu myths and then twisted and turned to suit the young artist. There are minimal lines and colours. Out of dots and dashes, the artist has created dreams and images of the past that go well with our present life. Wriggling, pulsating snakes, exotic birds with luminous wings, lions and tigers with forms and shapes carved with the artist's own imagination look at you from a strange wonderland of their own. The images are curious and comic, blending past with the present. Along with Apollo and Achilles one also finds some philosophers and thinkers of the past.
Ronnie has small studio-like space at home where he works. He then takes his ceramics items to Tongi where he fires them. “The difficult part is getting an oven where the fire can be controlled,” says Ronnie. “The glaze and colours are not easy to obtain either. Many of the items I use are chemical compounds. Lead and silica go into their making. You can put glaze and colour together or add the glaze later on. You have to use two firings. The first is called biscuit firing (between 700 to 800 degrees Celsius).”
“I enjoy doing portraits most of all,” says Ronnie. These are not realistic but coloured by his imagination and fancy. When dealing with the folk subjects of horses and cows these too have his own personal touch with cute faces and swishing fanciful tails.
The artist deals with the traditional terracotta subjects and techniques. The young god Krishna stealing the cheese from the cows is a popular theme in sculpture even today. “For me, when I do portraits, there doesn't have to be photographic similarities,” says Ronnie. Personalities from the Mahabharata, with their swords and shields also inspire the artists. “For me what is important is the notion, mood, and feeling,” says Ronnie.
In one of his pieces he has a horse, with circular motifs to bring in the forest in the backdrop; the elephant is a combination of the artist's improvisations and folk concepts of Bangladeshi art: stars, stripes and dots. The elephants too are a minimised form of folk concepts. Even the eye, an ancient Egyptian sign forms the subject of his work.
In his earlier exhibitions such has “Scourges scream” he has depicted pain, anger and fear. This was a collection of screaming faces, placed on the ground, and covered with a plastic sheet. “Educated fools” similarly has heads of humans, stuffed with paper.
A final year student of Fine Arts, DU, Ronnie hopes to do his masters in ceramics. Whatever he has achieved, he says is due to the guidance and inspiration of his teachers like Rabiul Islam, Chanchal, Debashish and Swapan. Among the classical artists of Europe, it is Leonardo da Vinci whom he admires most. He is also greatly moved by Turner and Delacroix and the way they have presented man and nature. Among the local artists, his admiration goes most to Zainul Abedin and SM Sultan.
Taking raw clay, Ronnie works on it with wooden instruments. He then fires the clay. He gets his textures with the instruments too.
Moinuddin Khalid, the well-known art critic says, “In Bangladesh today we see clay being used from pottery to architecture. Even fashionable costume jewellery is being made from clay. Artists today are able to bring in details and expression, which earlier was done only on canvas and paper. It is being kept on the wall as decoration like paintings. Ronnie's work has symbolic treatment in his portraits. This I find, is very promising. He has presented Toulouse Loutrec, Salvador, Dali and Picasso with his own imaginative vision. His characters from mythology like Krishna are also good. The way he has moulded the plasticity of clay to his own imaginations is remarkable.”
(R) thedailystar.net 2010