Athena Gallery of Fine Arts, a newly opened art gallery in North Badda, Dhaka, has a great collection of paintings. The collection comprises works by master artists of the country. Nilu Murshed, CEO of the gallery, is a well-known art collector. She has been collecting artworks for over 40 years.
Nilu recently set up the gallery with an intention to promote Bangladeshi art and artists on a global scale. As part of its inauguration, the gallery has organised a group art exhibition, featuring works of both prominent and young Bangladeshi painters.
The exhibition displays some rare pieces by master artists like Zainul Abedin, Quamrul Hassan and Rashid Chowdhury. The show offers 150 paintings, drawings, prints, ceramics, installations and tapestry — by 67 artists.
Among the participating painters are: Murtaja Baseer, Mustafa Monowar, Syed Jahangir, Samarjit Roy Chowdhury, Monirul Islam, Syed Abdullah Khalid, Ranjit Das, Mohammad Eunus, Kanak Chanpa Chakma, Mohammad Iqbal and others.
Samarjit Roy Chowdhury’s canvas features small fish, birds and familiar folk motifs. The painter is seemingly fascinated with folk patterns where broken lines crisscross over the canvas. The geometric compositions denote fantasy, reality and nostalgia.
Monirul Islam has been using large canvases of late where lines and forms appear on a huge scale. Space has been aptly used with refreshing expressions. His earlier (smaller) works are more organised and tactful. His “Green Heaven” has lights and tones that are visualised more boldly and expressively. His featured artwork at the exhibition uses corrugated board, and the board’s uneven texture helps in portraying the mind-boggling imageries.
As a devoted sculptor, Syed Abdullah Khalid doesn’t have a sizeable collection of painting. However, he concentrated on painting in the beginning of the 1980s. Throughout the ‘80s and ‘90s, he produced several floral images, highlighting nature, in both realistic and semi-realistic styles. At the exhibition, Khalid’s two big canvases showcase blossoming flowers and dense forest. Colours (particularly crimson) and variation of tones give the works an impressive view.
Biren Shome has frequently participated in group exhibitions. His mode of expression is diverse, yet the painter still has not really demonstrated a unique personal language. His usual themes include the Language Movement, Liberation War and pure abstraction (mainly colour and texture- based). At the exhibition, his featured work, “Untitled”, focuses on the centre of the canvas; its vivid colours, rough texture and the surrounding space bear a smooth look.
Abdus Shakoor Shah has pasted pieces of a colourful sari and gamchha on his canvas. These pieces give his work a decorative look. The canvas appears more vibrant and lively because of its slightly cracked surface. The artwork shows a number of female faces surrounded by wild flowers. It seems that the artist has swiftly drawn the visages. The work showcases his drawing skills.
Mohammad Eunus is one of the leading painters from the ‘70s, when the nation was caught up in the freedom movement. His current preferred style is abstract expressionism, but the painter occasionally portrays objects and animal forms with a realistic approach. The images have indisputably proven his expertise at drawing.
Mohammad Iqbal’s canvases are engrossed with various visible and shadowy figures. The background of most of his compositions is occupied by abstract forms, delightful colours and soft tones. Most of his paintings are oil-based as he is comfortable in the medium. Before going to Japan for his higher studies, the painter’s works focused on saints and Bauls. Some of the other motifs in Iqbal’s paintings are middle-aged figures, animals, ancient edifice, rivers, vessels, hills and sky.
Kanak Chanpa Chakma usually stays away from photographic realism or detailing when painting. When she does detail, she usually focuses on particular parts of the subject. It depends on perception or composition of the painting. Layers of colours and density of texture are noticeable features of her works. She frequently changes the backdrop of her paintings but most of the time the figures have similar gestures.
Shishir Bhattacharjee’s works signify socio-political and economic crises in the society. At the exhibition, his featured work concentrates on lines and drawings. Dogs, sandals, telephone wires, knives, stoves, reclining figures and distorted faces are recurring elements in his works. His cartoons and caricatures are truly reflective of the society.
Among the young participating artists, works of Rashid Amin, Mohammad Wahiduzzaman, Maksuda Iqbal Nipa, Anisuzzaman and Nagarbashi Barman are noticeable.
Rashid Amin is seemingly inspired by landscapes and nature. The painter gets the inspiration from his surroundings, and does not present them in a realistic way. The painter feels abstraction develops from reality. “In Search of Infinity” (etching), with minimal use of colours and lines — both vertical and horizontal — suggests dreams, sensitivity and sensuality.
Mohammad Wahiduzzaman is the Grand Prize Winner of the 14th edition of Asian Biennale. His works plunge deep into varied social, political and cultural dilemmas. The artist is greatly inspired by Pop Art.
Nagarbashi Barman has depicted lifestyle of the fishermen in his prints. The artist has provided minute details that create a sense of perfection. He brings in subjects like fish, fishing tools and boats.
The exhibition ends on July 20.
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