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Nocturnal Shades

Fayza Haq

Hamiduzzaman Khan, who has been sculpting for four decades, with an exhibition almost every year for four years, now holds a solo at Bengal Gallery. This contains 40 paintings and a sprinkling of small, fascinating, abstract , bronze sculpture pieces. A large metal statue, representing birds, dominates this show. With Masters from Barodha, India, studying under Ragob Kanaria, he has numerous credits to his name, including an “Ekushey Padak”. He says that he is greatly fascinated by the US sculptor Caro, who works in metal, and Anis Kapoor, who is based in UK . Ramkingkor from Shantiniketan, famed for his drawings and paintings have also had his impact on this artist. Hamid has absorbed his fascination for sculpture from India, Africa and Europe, specially, England -- with its many art galleries of repute.

Before going about his sculpture work, Hamid made sketches with pen and brush. At times, getting weary with the heavy metal work, he painted with watercolour alongside the difficult task of shaping of metals and wood. Eight years back, his exhibition of paintings was seen at “Shilpangan”. Now he is more interested in the delineation of nature, seen in twilight as well as masks, his latest fascination. This is in watercolour and acrylic and brings in the river, ocean, streams, skies, trees, and bits of houses in dark, dominant, dramatic shades. While most younger artists of late have cried out against ruination of nature by man, Hamid sings along in his own pace, showing the beauty of nature. Although he uses dark shades, his mood is not a melancholic one.

“When the light diminishes, and we look at a tree, it acquires sculptural proportions, with total 3-D effects. I've been to the Sunderbans 16 times. I feel that at night it appears totally different from what one sees in the daytime. The trees and water appear to flow into one another: The world appears different. During moonlit nights the charm and romance are incomparable. Unless one travels by boat, one doesn't really experience the beauty of Bangladesh. The exhibition ends around mid May. My sculptor work takes six months at a time. In between, I take breaks and record my feelings and ambiances on paper with brush and pen. Of late, I've taken to painting in a serious way,” says Hamid.

He began with painting for his BFA, studying under Zainul Abedin and Mustafa Manwar. In his early 20s, sculptor pieces seen even around the roads and highways of England and Dakkar, made him take sculpting as his profession, although he knew that it would be difficult to procure the ingredients for it and win patrons for his survival.” In the past 10 years, however, architects have realised the importance of sculpture to enhance the attraction of sky-rise buildings. His sculptor pieces include the ones in front of Jahangirnagar University called “Shanshoptak”; in Mirpur “Kingbdundi”;”Smriti Minar”, Dhaka; “Bijoyghatan” ; Mymensingh Cantonment; “Fish”, Farmgate; at Tangail cantonment and “Freedom Fighter”, Jalalabad Cantonment. These are in metal and cement. Stainless steel remains his favourite medium.

The facial expression of an individual reflects his personality, says Hamid, and this is what he's wanted to reflect in his paintings for quite many years now. Another subject that thrills him is the flat landscape of Bangladesh.

A full time professor of sculptor at the Department of Fine Arts, D.U., with a sculptor wife, Ivy Zaman, to give him moral support, Hamid has been working away at his studio at Badda, which is 10 kilometres away from his home, for 20 years. He hopes to have a second studio soon at Savar. “For sculptor work, one needs a studio. I would advise young sculptors to work in their village homes, where they can do the technical work of firing clay and cutting metal sheets. This requires a lot of energy and makes quite a noise. You need additional help too. Sculptor is coming up. This is although earlier, minds were closed to it, specially if it were figure work,” says Hamid.

In “Black Beauty”(water colour), the prominent nose and luscious lips are red. This is done in dark colours, with highlights to bring in details, and give it an element of spirituality. This mask , along with others, is influenced by the conventional representation of Buddha, who has an enormous impact on the artist's mind. “Buddha was born in Nepal, close to Bangladesh, and spread his religion to the south of India. It is here that he sat under the tree and meditated on the meaning of mankind's existence on earth,” says Hamid. His long spells in Korea left an indelible mark of the importance of Buddha and his teachings on his mind. Another mask appears to be a rectangle placed on another rectangle; the white lines and dots are with pastel. All the faces have large, prominent eyes of the people of Bengal, and curvaceous Cupid lips. Their expression is delectable. “Portrait-9” is in shades of black, pink, with the details of the facial contours in brown presenting a dainty oblong face done with minimal lines and colours. Rabindranath Tagore's portrait appears stark black, with a touch of bluish white to include the nose and flowing moustache.

The artist's twilight scenes include one of a house with suggested doors and windows, along with trees nearby. The other night views too are wrapped in romance, poetry and a sense of optimism : Everything appears cool and mystic, with pulsating splashes of black and brown, with touches of vermilion to relieve the monotony and add texture. The depiction of the ocean brings in the horizon with large dots and gliding swirls. Hamid's slabs of gray, touched with black, introduce an abstract. They appear like doors leading to minds of men.

“I find a lot of talented students in the sculptor department. However, after they have completed their course, they drift into other mediums like graphics for lack of studios and patrons,” comments Hamid about the existing art scenario.


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