Across genres, across generations
Athena Gallery of Fine Arts has staged a group art exhibition entitled Then and Now, featuring the works of twenty six painters representing a mix of generations from the 1960s onward. The exhibition was a collateral event of the Dhaka Art Summit that took place between 7 and 9 February.
Among the participating painters, Monirul Islam, Syed Abdullah Khalid, Mahmudul Haque, Abdus Shakoor Shah, Mohammad Eunus, Jamal Ahmed, Ahmed Shamsuddoha, Mohammad Muniruzzaman, Kanak Chanpa Chakma, Anisuzzaman, Maksuda Iqbal Nipa and Md Tokon were noticeable for their signature linguistic expression.
If Monirul Islam's Hope Comes and Goes Away, an oil and etching on paper with the usual scribbles against an empty backdrop, resides between passion and tranquility, Syed Abdullah Khalid's Symphony of Colour brings to view the essence of untamed nature in crimson and blue, pointing to an urge to return to 'primal nature' unscathed by human transgression.
Monirul Islam, the expatriate artist living in Spain for the last four decades, has had a shape-shifting effect on the Dhaka art scene upon his 1st solo in his home country in the early 1990s. Ever since, the sparse and informal paintings of this reputed printmaker have catalyzed new artistic fruitions.
If blossoming flowers and dense forests are recurring features in Khaled's paintings, its diametrical opposite is to be found in Mahmudul Haque's exercise into symmetry and unity of forms. In this exhibition, the artist's signature turquoise blue surface has been deprioritized to present a surface where interplay between subtle colours and textures is central to the composition.
Mohammad Eunus, another painter who toggles between surface quality and colour to forge abstract compositions, exhibits an affinity for thick texture built through application of impasto to lend his abstract forms/objects a tactile quality.
Jamal Ahmed, for his depiction of Bengal's scenic beauty alongside nubile women in their sensuously clinging sarees, bauls-mandicants, painted people, capturing the moments of oblivion in their social milieu .
Ahmed Shamsuddoha, at his meticulous best, has used the forms of petals and a number of vaguely recognizable natural forms to evoke a dreamlike moment. His paintings provide the spectators a point of entry into the mysteries of 'natural' forms.
Kanak Chanpa Chakma's Enlightenment, an acrylic piece consisting of a seated figure in spiritual contemplation, incites interest for its subtle surface quality that blends azure blue with textures achieved through impasto.
Maksuda Iqbal Nipa's oil on canvas, on the contrary, purposefully keeps alive the spirit of abstract expressionism, and she delves into surface painting only to respond to the beauty of nature.
Almost in a similar vein, Bangladeshi expatriate painter Md Tokon plunges deep into the abstractionist void to peg his hope on colour alone. At this exhibition, the artist has created a canvas nuanced with a single colour explicating a romantic adherence to notion of art as a self-referential space.
Athena came into being in 2012 with the goal of becoming a venue for the emerging as well as mainstream artists. The exhibition ran through February 5-28, 2014.