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        Volume 11 |Issue 19 | May 11, 2012 |


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Lost Memories

Shilpangan celebrates the spirit of Dhaka's lost past

Fayza Haq

Biren Shome, River of Stories, pen and ink.

Faiz Ahmed, the sole founder of Shilpangan was also the sole funder of the gallery in Dhanmondi that has earned a reputation of putting up quite a show every now and than. Other cultural centres in the country such as the Alliance Française and the Shilpakala Academy were funded by foreign countries and the government. Even though he was not rich, it was Faiz bhai, as he was warmly known, who realised the need for a full time art gallery that would encourage artists and serve as an art market.

His involvement with the cultural world made him close to the artists of the country. To Rumi Noman and his sister, nephew and niece of Faiz Bhai along with “Jeeves” Ghiasuddin, playing host with laden trays in the new venue of “Shilpangan” in Dhanmandi, the evening was particularly important. This was to make sure "Shilpangan” would carry on, even though Faiz bhai was no more, so that his knowledge and connection with artists would continue through Shilpangan. Biren Shome; Monirul Islam with his fringe and grey shirt, Zahir of “Chitrak” with his radiant smile, twinkling eyes and bonhomie; Hamiduzzaman Khan with his mastery over both painting and sculpture; Ivy Zaman in a bottle-green sari and bobbed red hair; Shaheen of Goethe Institute fame, speaking of her latest feat in photography– all were present — and well before time.

An exhibition called “Memories of Old Town” is on the cover of the brochure carrying a black and beige painting by Rafiqun Nabi, the master painter, loved and known to artists, local and overseas. A well-loved teacher, philosopher, and guide, he is known to many as the maker of “Tokai”. The shadow is like that of the Dutch and Spanish painters, with light and shadow work, mused by Goya and Rembrandt. The romance of Old town, with the inimitable, porticoes and cobbled streets bring in the Victorian and Edwardian scenes, as seen in novels such as those of Sherlock Holmes and the Brontë sisters. The horse-drawn carriage and their riders in their neat suits are a part of the gone-by colonial times.

Monirul Islam's “Sunset at Lalbagh” has lyrical and inimitable lines, dashes and scrawls in jade green and vermilion, its white geometrical shapes are mesmerising. “River of Stories” by Biren Shome”, in pen and ink against a greyish blue backdrop, includes geometrical boats, neat old building, archways, pillars and trees, as though they were a part of the English castles, mingling with the modern backdrop of high-rise buildings of the 20th century. Saying more about the past Buriganga, in pen and ink, is Qayyum Chowdhury's flamboyant and yet conventio-nally dignified black; buff of boats are seen against trees and shore with the water and the greenery. Nature has hardly been seen so closely, in such minimal strokes and hues. The birds and wiring in the sketch are admirable too.

  Hamiduzzaman Khan, Rose Garden at Gopibagh, mixed mediums.

The classic “Kite Festival” with their many shapes and colours, seen atop the Wari buildings by Rezaun Nabi, speak of the artist's nearness to Old Town in youthful days, at a time when the skies were full of joy. The rooftop has been included neatly. One would think the artist was painting stars in the sky. Md Muniruzzaman's acrylic is equally fascinating and enchanting. Done with the same precision and details is this painting with boats, launches, houses and large golden clouds at the back of the river. Kamaluddin's "Old House Balcony" at Farashganj is full of colour and buoyancy. The old architecture with the balconies, their facades, pillars and turrets are done with an eye for detail and a passion for things of the past. The curves, the straight lines and dots usher in details with perfection and care. “Rose Garden at Gopibagh” by Hamiduzzamn--used also in a book-- wonderful as that is, is a marvel in mixed media. The details of the grey, blue sketch are amazing in their evocation. Ivy Zaman, his wife, has created lyrical images with her water-colour, reminding one of the memories of the Red Fort, as seen in the evening.

Sheikh Afzal, known more for his realistic portraits--lauded at home and abroad--has used water-colour to bring in busy people, and crammed houses with care, precision and an eye for detail. Abdus Shakoor, admirable as a painter and teacher, has left his indelible mark on “Shattered Dream 1”, the details of which are inimitable.



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