Home  -  Back Issues  -  The Team  -  Contact Us
     Volume 7 Issue 51 | January 2 , 2009 |

  Cover Story
  Year in Review
  One Off
  A Roman Column
  Photo Feature
  Food for Thought
  Star Diary
  Book Review

   SWM Home


A Pageant of Unforgettable Prints --

Fayza Huq

Prints by Monirul Islam

The most eye-catching pieces in Shilpangan's ongoing exhibition on prints of well-known artists are those of Monirul Islam and Shahid Kabir, both based in Spain. They reflect the joie de vivre of their adopted homeland --with its vibrant people, warm orange skies and turquoise waterways. The entry by Rafiqun Nabi is also admirable for its strong, dramatic lines. Those by the master print-makers, Safiuddin Ahmed and Mohammed Kibria are exquisite and startling because of their subtlety and depth. Abdus Sattar has brought in the beauty of Moghul portraiture, with its roots in Oriental Art -- not an easy feat in print, while Murtaza Baseer has the eternal charm of the age-old theme of mother and child. Abul Barq Alvi's presentation of his memories and experiences through cubes is also formidable.

Younger artists, such as Rokeya Sultana -- with her preoccupation with women's roles -- Ahmed Nazir , Rashid Amin and Roosevelt Rozario too play an important role in this pageant of prints at Shilpangan -- a gallery which has never disappointed its viewers. The 50 prints by 36 artists is a superb collection of our local artists' foray into the world of wood and metal.

The piece de resistance for many is Mohammed Kibria's black-and-white dry-point (etching) done by a needle on a metal plate. The lines are gentle with dots in the middle and present, perhaps, the image of an abstract version of a landscape with sky and forest (1997).

Rokeya Sultana(L) and Laila Sharmeen(R)

Monirul Islam's etchings include the dark period around the Liberation War, which bear shades of sepia, black and white, and they capture the moment in time of the turbulent period of 1971, even though the artist, at that time, was in Madrid. These aquatints and mezzotints often bear no titles and visitors are left to imagine what they will from these semi-abstract creations. Exotic flowers, ethereal birds, crescent moon, clumps of bare trees, segments of pathways, women's derrieres mingling with tree trunks are found in these surrealistic and symbolic pieces. Many forms in these prints are erotic in their origin like the woods and the ptuous female forms.

The larger works by Monirul Islam move on to abstraction, although they contain forms in which figures can be detected. One of the etchings bears pale blue and light beige watercolour tints that recall old maps. This includes the artist's favourite image of the forest to the left, along with calligraphy to lend interest to the composition, and which harks back to Da Vinci. "In 30 years of my career, I've touched other mediums apart from prints and to me, repetition of techniques bring in boredom. Then I move on to a variation, as did many European masters like Picasso and Dali. Changing the media makes the artwork richer. Thus, at times I've shifted on to mixed-media and even pure painting or ceramics," Monirul Islam says about his mediums -- and this applies to many of the artists, who have their works included in this exhibition.

Shahid Kabir, who can make even a scrap of bread on a dish appear lyrical, here has gladioli placed in a dark vase in his print, which has numerous colours in a single plate. The dusty pink and the shades of emeralds in the leaves give us a picture of an ordinary part of a household in an extraordinary way. Shahid is a true romantic -- who sees beauty in the common things in life around him. The few flowers appear to be dancing with the rhythm of contented life in the artist's inimitable impressionistic style.

Murtaza Baseer presents his age-old theme of mother adoring her child, done with careful lines. This 1973 etching, done in a single plate, is a symbol of hope, and is completed in yellow-ochre and leafy green. Abdus Sattar's portrait of a woman in the Chughtai style, focuses on a lady holding-- a delicate red unopened flower. The petulant seductive lips, languorous heavy-lidded gazelle eyes and the complimenting flow of hair are indeed remarkable as the portrait is done in woodcut. The combination of flamboyant pinks and oranges are offset by darker brown hues.

Abul Barq Alvi has a sample of pure etching with rectangle lines in sepia, drawing attention to the artist's nostalgic recollection of houses and pathways of his past. It has beige, brown and white forms brought in by delicate and economical lines. This single plate work has an interesting play of tones. Mizanur Rahim from Chittagong has smudges in black and white, and it bears the theme of a great roaring fire. The contrast of dramatic black and white is remarkable.

Wakilur Rahman, based in Bonn, has contributed an abstract piece. This compelling composition, remarkable for its economic and dynamic strokes present a triangle -- recognised as a symbol of womanhood through the ages. Black and grey splashes and strokes hold the vibrant composition.

Rokeya Sultana's splendid etchings in sepia and oxide red contain her constant concern for women's position in society. The nude figures with multiple spindly hands and billowing bosoms present her portrayals of feminine roles -- as mother, sister and friend. Underwater life, and sketched in stars are included with a matured use of tone. The minimal use of curves and lines draw attention to her contemporary vision -- which progresses with time. Ranjit Das's lemon- yellow and grey vertical creation contains tiny miniscule details of riverbanks, including houses, boatmen, boats and piers. In another of Ranjit's prints gold and white relief work usher in images that might stand for human figures or graveyards.

Ahmed Nazir's "Warfile" has layer upon layer of geometrical slabs of bold black, vermilion and white. This brings in memories of the fire, blood, skeletons and darkness of the Liberation War theme, the artist's most recent theme. This appears to be a computerised work. Aminul Mumonun Chowdhury's print includes the patriotic symbol of the national flag. This is presented in a lyrical manner, amalgamated with romantic images of doves, cupids, flying angels, stars, fish and women. Forms of trees with burgeoning leaves are added to lend further interest. This is in greyish pink and beige green, and has a muted and matted effect.

The flowering of our artists in the realm of prints is not to be taken lightly. The vibrant pieces speak of interest of these print-makers in a medium that is economical ,and readily transportable, for use in foreign exhibitions.


.Copyright (R) thedailystar.net 2008