Kazi Rakib’s ceaseless voyage towards art

Kazi Rakib Hossain is an avid art collector, gallerist and art promoter who has recently established an art gallery "Orchid Gallery" at Bashundhara Residential Area in the city. From his childhood, Rakib has grown up in an artistic atmosphere. His brother-in-law--- a noted artist-entrepreneur M. M. Yacoob was the founder of the third art gallery in the country "Jiraz Art Gallery" with his journalist friend Aftabuddin Ahmed in Shahbagh in 1970s. They superbly ran the gallery and at that time the gallery was the hub among the artists, poets, writers and art enthusiasts. Meanwhile, Gulshan had become a good possibility for selling and buying paintings because foreigners had started to collect Bangladeshi art. Yacoob lonely shifted to Gulshan-2 in the 1980s and established a gallery named "Yeart Art Gallery".

From his adolescence, Rakib have had a great passion for art and collecting paintings from painters from different decades. At the beginning of the 1990s, he frequently visited the Yeart Gallery. The zeal grew stronger and he completely engrossed himself with the art. During that time, he started to build a close relationship with the topmost artists in the city. He also started to tie a connection to the then promising painters of the country. He instigated to collect the valuable art pieces with his intelligent eyes. Rakib was in full swing to collect the art pieces of SM Sultan, Mahbubul Amin, Devdas Chakraborty, Shamsul Islam Nizami, Samarjit Roy Chowdhury, Alakesh Ghosh, Abdus Shakoor Shah, Jamal Ahmed and other leading painters of the country.

For a long time, Rakib had a dream to establish a gallery where artists could interact with each other while selling their paintings and the common people could see the paintings and grow a deep adoration for art works. Suddenly, he found a small quiet place in 2016 and established an art gallery "Orchid Gallery" in Bashundhara. Noted artist Ahmed Shamsuddoha assisted him to establish the gallery and he also fixed the name of the gallery. The gallery is not spacious but Rakib has a plentiful collection of paintings of Bangladeshi artists of different periods and several Indian painters' works. Rakib regrets that the place has not sufficient space for proper displaying or arranging of any exhibition. But Rakib has displayed splendidly his collections. The range of sell of the paintings is praiseworthy. In acquiring his collection, Rakib has always stressed the importance of maintaining close personal ties with the artist community. In his love for the arts, he is especially motivated by his determination to bring more prominence and recognition to the ever-growing community of established and upcoming Bangladeshi artists. Some of his collections include the artworks of Zainul Abedin, Quamrul Hassan, SM Sultan, Safiuddin Ahmed, Mohammad Kibria, Murtaja Baseer, Qayyum Chowdhury, Hashem Khan, Samarjit Roy Chowdhury, RafiqunNabi, Monirul Islam, Abdus Shakoor Shah, Hamiduzzaman Khan, Kalidas Karmakar, Mohammad Eunus, Ahmed Shamsuddoha, Sheikh Afzal, Mohammad Iqbal, Anisuzzaman and others.

Rakib has closely observed that the collectors do like to collect non-figurative and pure-abstract paintings. He finds a number of reasons in this regard----personal choice, in-depth analysis, meditation and engrossment in religion. Rakib also always feels to collect non-figurative and pure-abstract paintings as the requirements of buyers. His collections also include figurative, semi-figurative, semi-abstract, neo-expressionism and drawing based works. Rakib has always been very interested in new ideas and contemporary culture and art have always been an important part of these. His collections also have various sections, there is a non- objective section, a landscape section, a section on the Liberation War, Language Movement, scenic beauty of the country, and an abstract or cutting edge section. He is open to new thought, which allows him to be interested in all avenues of creativity. Painters from different parts of the city usually gather at his gallery and discuss on a different kinds of issues. Ambassadors, bureaucrats, poets, intellectuals, writers, professors, critics and learned persons always visit the gallery on various occasions.

Rakib has visited several countries where he met many celebrated artists, art historians, critics and art enthusiasts. He enjoys visiting art galleries and museums in the countries he travels to, in order to get familiar with the art and the art movement of those countries.

Rakib feels that Bangladeshi artists have won for themselves a distinguished place in the International Art circuit. They are now receiving international exposure and participating in various competitions. Nowadays, the scope for pursuing fine arts is much wider than ever before. Once the artists were very neglected and ignored in our society and generally had poor living standards. At that time, art galleries in the city were few and the sale of paintings was very poor. But that atmosphere has changed completely-and for the better. New galleries are now opening as art works are selling now at greater number than ever before. Artists are becoming professional and the money they are earning are by all means respectable. At present, artists are holding a respectable position in our society. People from different sections of the society show a great eagerness to collect the art pieces.

Rakib aims to create a cultural hub where art connoisseurs and newcomers alike can appreciate and learn of the exciting new trends that are being pioneered by a new generation of artists. He feels that the country's long and rich tradition of fine art is unique throughout the South Asian diaspora.

Orchid Gallery aims to represent the wide range of styles and techniques that are being mastered by our artists. His intention is to promote Bangladeshi artists and arts at a global scale. He has seen many artists never being appreciated. So, his target is to give recognition to the talents in our country. The gallery invites well-known critics, historians, curators and painters from all over the world as part of its initiatives. Rakib is going to take a big space in the same area (Bashundhara) where regular exhibitions, discussions and workshops will also be a vital part of the gallery's activities. At his future allocated space, viewers will browse through a wide selection of art, journals and cultural publications. Besides alongside frequent group and solo exhibitions of various mediums, in the future visitors can also expect to attend educational seminars, workshops, and various other cultural events.

The writer is an art critic and cultural curator.

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