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Wall Paintings of a Lost Time

By Adnan M. S. Fakir
Photos courtesy of Finding Bangladesh

The Sistine Chapel is the home of genius, an archetype unlike any other. Michelangelo's ceiling paintings' and The Last Judgment is by far more precious than any crown jewels. However to enjoy such radical brilliance, one has to travel all the way to Vatican City. Well, we have our own.

Though not really a masterpiece and nowhere near the Sistine Chapel, what we have is still well worth a visit. Interestingly, throughout history religion and paintings have almost always gone hand in hand. While the paintings' at Sistine Chapel depict Biblical stories, our paintings show stories of Radha and Krishna; a story of love immortalised in time.

Painted on the walls of the Sri Sri Rup Sanatan Smriti Tirtho located in Ramsara, Abhayanagar, Jessore, these are also a form of the Fresco paintings done during the Italian renaissance. A very old painting technique, this usually uses painting in pigment mixed with water on a thin layer of wet, fresh lime mortar or plaster. Traditionally egg is used to attach the pigment to the wall. So if you are a painter and an egg-hater, think twice before hating that satchel of protein.

Painting lovers will instantly recognise the Girl with a Pearl Earring by Johannes Vermeer done in 1665. This painting also used a very expensive pigment called, natural ultramarine, made from crushed lapis lazuli stones. While we do not know what types of pigments were used for the paintings in the Sri Sri Rup Sanatan Smriti Tirtho, and we are guessing not the expensive ones, they certainly are a product of the age old Fresco painting style.

Wall paintings in Bangladesh are a rare sight. By wall “paintings” I am ignoring the graffiti and stencil art that are popping up all over Dhaka nowadays. Not that they are not awesome, but compared to these “paintings” they really stand ages apart (pun intended). Given that our part of the world doesn't really care that much about copyright, or who did what, we have no trace of when these paintings were done or by whom. However given the current state of the paintings, one can guess that they are quite old. With the plaster slowly coming off from the walls due to the moisture and rain, some of them have already faded.

While mostly tinted green, the vibrant colours used in the paintings are still visible. It's an exhibition of wall paintings open for all any time. The temple is active and regularly used. The only problem is getting there. Plan a visit soon if you are interested; our guess is that the paintings won't last for long and if any restoration work is done, especially by the government, pink will replace the greens. Any artist would commit suicide at that.

Visit more of the beauties of our country here: www.facebook.com/findingbangladesh

School of colours

By Mahir Khan

The where and how to let loose your creative demon

"Do you want to be a doctor or an engineer?” There is a day in every kid's life in Bangladesh when they are asked this question for the first time and without a doubt not for the last. So we ask why not become artists instead. Our calling as artists begin from the day we get beaten by our moms for pulling off a Picasso on the whitewashed wall of our dining room and it continues to school, only here our canvas is the shirt of the poor kid sitting in front of us. Eventually some of us actually manage to implement their talent on paper while others use everything else as canvass except for paper. Wherever we show our talents, drawing is fun and in RS, we always prefer having fun in a different way, but where can we find a decent place to fulfill our destiny as an artist? In art schools of course!

There are a number of art schools throughout Dhaka which provide long and short courses according to the student's choice. Cubic School of Fine Arts situated in Gulshan-2 is one of the leading art schools in the country. Initiated by eminent artist Mujahidul Hassan Rana, it provides a 3 month short course as well as a one year course for more serious students. Courses include crafts, gardening and portrait drawing besides the usual abstract painting. Cubic has a branch in Baridhara D.O.H.S and you can visit their campus at any time or visit cubicartschool.com for more information.

Another place to learn drawing in Dhaka is Alliance Française de Dhaka which provides 3 month painting workshops for children aged 4-15 years. Although a bit expensive, according to current students, it's totally worth it. For sessions and expenses you can visit Alliance Française in Dhanmondi, Gulshan or Uttara but you can also get the information at afdhaka.org. If you are interested in theatre or learning French, then this is the place you are looking for. Besides this, Russian Cultural Center in Dhanmondi also provides drawing workshops.

Bangladesh Shishu Academy established in 1976 is one of the oldest institutes which offer art courses for children. Situated opposite Curzon Hall in Old High Court Road, this institute has a decent facility for teaching art to kids.

Well, once you are done with junior level art courses, one can always get admitted in Charukola. In Dhaka, Charukola is the best institute where higher education is provided for art students but getting in is no easy task. A current student, Promy, says, “To get admission in Charukola, you need a good result in your HSC or A-levels but if you are a good artist and have a really good idea of general knowledge, you don't need to worry.” Charukola is a part of “CHA” unit of Dhaka University and it has 8 Theory and 7 practical departments as well as a History of Art subject and one needs to do really good in the practical during admission test to be admitted in practical departments.

There are a whole lot of Art schools scattered around in Dhaka and you can choose any for your dream of becoming an artist. Whether you become a professional artist is up to you but learning how to draw always comes handy. Your art skills can be a life saver in biology exams or you can use it to impress your crush like Tom Sawyer did to Becky Thatcher. Learning to draw is also helpful if you want to be a graphics designer or a game developer as it gives a clear conception on perspective as well as giving you a steady drawing hand, which is important in architecture. Other than professions, art can also be taken as a hobby, and you'll be surprised how much fun it can be.


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