The Month That Was
by Moushumi Kandali
Intersecting Borders Interconnecting Selves...
Demise of an Iconic Self
As lakhs of mourning people forming a sea of humanity on the 30 kilometre stretch in Guwahati bade the last farewell to that monumental figure towering high in their psyche, its echo transcended all the boundaries and rang out in the neighbouring countries too. As Dr. Bhupen Hazarika, the music legend, ballad singer, composer, lyricist, journalist, Dada Saheb Phalke Award winning film maker and 'Paul Robeson of North - East' passed away on 5th of November, 2011; Bangladesh shared the grief with Assam and conferred him the highest civilian Award of Muktiyuddha. The face of Assam and Voice of North East, this multifaceted persona was the voice of progressivism and social welfare of all the subaltern people. His political consciousness and leftist-socialist disposition was manifested in compositions brimming with acute social awareness (in songs like manuhe manuhor babe, bor bor manuhor dola, Bistirno parore ashongkhyo jonore, etc) for which he was so well known complemented his romantic lyricism and poetic eroticism so finely expressed in abstractionist songs like Bimurto mur nishati. Born in 1926, in Sadia, Assam, he studied in Guwahati and Banaras Hindu University before going on to the receive a PhD in Mass Communications (Perhaps the foremost in India in this field) from Columbia University in New York in 1952. His entire life was then dedicated to cinema, music, art and culture of the country rendered in many languages like Bengali, Hindi etc other than Assamese and expanding across the globe to many countries. Known for his 'Art with Humanism', the maestro was also an avid art lover who composed songs like 'mur jibon ghorir pratito pal jen gali gali sesh hole' inspired by Dali's surrealist paintings like 'Persistence of Memory'.
Rhythm of Colours
It was this exhibition of contemporary art of Bangladesh titled Rhythm of Colours held at the art gallery of Lalit Kala Bhawan, Srimanta Sankardeva Kalashetra, Guwahati, Assam, from 30th October to 4th November, 2011 where the artists Qayyum Chowdhury and Mahmudul Haque had come and brought the message of cultural interconnectivity in its true meaning, however cliché the phrase might sound! Jointly organised by the Bengal Gallery of Fine Arts, Bangladesh and Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) in collaboration with the Srimanta Sankardeva Kalashetra Society, this was the first exhibition for contemporary art of artists from Bangladesh to be held in North-East. This Guwahati Exposition of Contemporary Art from Bangladesh was curated by the Bengal Gallery of Fine Arts of Dhaka and presented a collection of works by eleven contemporary Bangladesh artists namely Qayyum Chowdhury, Mahmudul Haque, Kalidas Karmakar, Farida Zaman, Nasim Ahmed Nadvi, Shishir Bhattacharjee and others. It showcased 33 paintings of these artists, all of whom also came down to the city to participate in the workshop accompanied by Subir Choudhury, the director of Bengal Gallery of Fine Arts, Dhaka. The workshop organised in this occasion also had few practicing artists from Assam namely Benu Mishra, Noni Borpujari, Rabiram Brahma, Aminul Haque, Champak Borbora, Ratul Gogoi, Paranbanti Devi, Kamal Mahanta and others. It was indeed a laudable attempt by the organisers to hold the workshop along with the seminar as artists from both the countries could interact and exchange their ideas and thoughts and the spectators could witness the working process of the artists. Rhythm of Colours as the title suggested unfolded as a colourful mosaic of different expressions and style of rendering. However, the general and overall mood of the exhibition was poetic rendering of the landscape, romantic snapshots of psychic imageries of human emotions and abstract expressionism in different style. If Qayyum Chowdhury took inspiration from the folk art and culture of Bangladesh and the rich repertoire of the art of embroidery, Kalidas Karmakar explored newer symbolism through minimalistic language. Mahmudul Haque's abstract world delivered an idiom of his own as also evident in Shishir Bhattacharjee's play with different forms and symbols. Mizarul Quayes's introductory essay in the catalogue of the exhibition about the genealogy and entire dynamics of modern art of Bangladesh threw light to the spectators, who were not acquainted with the art scene of the country so far.
play with different forms and symbols. Samarjit Roy Choudhury and Nafiqun Nabi's treatment of colour complemented their weaving of subtle narratives. Overall, the art-works unfolded a realm of private poesies and subliminal inner spaces. Mizarul Quayes's introductory essay in the catalogue of the exhibition about the genealogy and entire dynamics of modern art of Bangladesh threw light to the spectators, who were not acquainted with the art scene of the country so far. As observed by Quayes- “Today, Bangladesh art is characterized by tremendous creative surge, diversity and vitality. Artists have rediscovered themselves and invented newer individual forte...there is constant infusion of interesting and refreshing works that testifies to the ease and facility of our new artists as much as the capacity of others to constantly evolve..”