As part of its tribute to the late artist Mohammad Fokhrul Islam, a solo painting exhibition titled “Shadows and Light” is now on at Alliance Française de Dhaka.
About 29 paintings of the late artist are on display. The collection includes some of his previously unseen paintings.
Fokhrul started off as a ceramic artist in the early 1990s, and decided to switch to painting in the mid 1990s. In his paintings he depicted a spiritual and contemplative world decorated with dots, innumerable lines and uninhabited landscapes. The images were done on paper with printing ink. He used printer’s ink and mustard oil to create his mysterious subjects and metaphysical landscapes.
At the exhibition, when one observes his works more closely, numerous combinations of black lines and tones appear. None of the paintings and arrangements (or preparations) is in any way disruptive, repetitive and monotonous.
The artist unintentionally depicted gloomy sunsets, silent woods, sprawling deserts, howling tornados and cyclones and more. The arrangements of enormous dots and geometric forms (particularly vertical, horizontal and crisscrossing lines) create a sense of aestheticism. His work reflects a thoughtful process, one that searches for relationship between lines, dots, spaces and recurring textures. The textures look very controlled, structured and tenacious.
As an experimental painter, Fokhrul delved into dots, points and monochromic images. His works are engrossed with rich textured patterns and the paintings are technically sophisticated. In his life time, the painter had been working on a continuous series and developing himself with innovative techniques and use of materials. In his works, he demonstrated durability and transformation. Durability, in terms of his style and technique, and transformation, in terms of his choice of subjects and visualisation.
A number of his works reveal silence and emptiness. After observing the works, one can comprehend their beautiful simplicity. The artworks clearly reveal his fondness of architectural lines. The beauty of the images lies in light pouring through vertical and horizontal lines. Sometimes the lines are very visible and at times invisible — creating shadowy and whimsical images. The painter used golden ochre and blazing black. With rapid sweeping strokes, he brought in large landscapes and vibrant life, despite their simplicity and economic use of colours.
Fokhrul’s lines seem to us to provide a new presence and to introduce a novel chapter in our life. Life is always growing and expanding – a process that brings to us a New World which is completely unknown to us. His flat surface plays between the monochromic colour and sprinkled texture to set up an illusionary effect of space. This has been created on the canvas although the colours that have been applied are flat tones. Keeping perspective in mind, the tonal plus linear approach give his work a different quality that engrosses our attention and leads to fresh insights into dynamic possibilities suggested so vividly by Fokhrul, the thinking artist.
Fokhrul was born in 1964 in Dhaka. He completed MFA from the Department of Ceramics, Institute of Fine Arts (now Faculty of Fine Arts, University of Dhaka) in 1988. He went to China, on a three-year scholarship from the Chinese Government, and studied at the Central Institute of Arts and Crafts, Beijing. He received many awards for his outstanding contribution to Bangladeshi art. Fokhrul had exhibited in India, Pakistan, China, Japan, France and Italy.
The exhibition will continue till July 24.
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