12:00 AM, February 09, 2014 / LAST MODIFIED: 01:53 AM, March 08, 2015

Colliding art and social anomalies

Colliding art and social anomalies

Takir Hossain

A number of solo projects by internationally-acclaimed artists like Rana Begum, Shazia Sikander, Jitish Kallat and Rashid Rana have definitely enriched the current Dhaka Art Summit, which closes today at the capital's Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy. Many of the artists, mainly recognised for their unique exploration of creativity and stimulating techniques, are addressing various social, cultural, environmental and personal issues like harassment, discrimination of women and children trafficking, communalism and social intolerance. They are considered to be more socially-conscious artists as their focal point were varied social dilemmas and their voices were very similar to the act of anti-establishment. The projects articulate their experiences, understanding and deep observations on the anomalies in our society. Their works depict demonstration, the common and unfortunate features of life. They deal with a variety of subjects like labour unrest, dilemma of immigrant workers, misplaced idealism and religious bigotry.
UK-based Bangladeshi artist Rana Begum displays an installation at the second floor of the Shilpakala Academy. The solo project draws on her experience of weaving baskets as a child and of reading the Quran in a small mosque in her native village back in Bangladesh. At the installation, she has used some elements of our country. She has used bamboo-made baskets as her medium of expression. Her rich project -- to some extent – is similar to domes of a mosque. In her childhood, she would visit mosques in the morning when the Quran was recited. In her project, the artist aimed to recreate the tranquillity which she was found in the mosque.
Besides the solo project, the dynamic artist's metal-based sculpture is also on display at the Paris-based curator and art historian Deepak Ananth's curatorial show. At the show, Rana's work is purely crystalline, simple and consists of geometric forms. Her mode of expression is minimal in its formal language and her works are aesthetically sound. Refined vibrant colours are one of the main traits of her installations. Her use of colours gives us an illusionary and imposing view.
Deepak's project has also been enriched by the varied mediums of works and themes of Bangladeshi artist Ronni Ahmed and photographers Shumon Ahmed, Omar Adnan Chowdhury and Gazi Nafis Ahmed.
At the show, a number of acrylic-based works by Ronni Ahmmed are on display. Through his paintings, the experimental artist focuses on myths, and merges the past and the future of man and nature. He applies varied symbols, motifs and fantastic elements, using human forms, animals and varied surrealistic imageries. His vibrant works hold a kind of illusory atmosphere, which seems alien but this depiction of an apparently-unknown civilisation or community expresses the same kind of message one gets when confronted with strange reality. The artist is seemingly fascinated with myth and its many aspects and his message has been integrated in his tinted paintings.
Jitish Kallat is one of the most prominent figures of Contemporary Indian Art. Working across a variety of media including painting, sculpture, photography and installation, his work reflects a deep involvement with the city of his birth (Mumbai) and derives much of its visual language from his immediate urban environment. At the summit, Kallat's solo project denotes moon in several forms. The project screens in a dark room at the second floor in Shilpakala Academy and art enthusiasts get an illusionary ambiance. His seven-channel animated video has focused on the idea of time and life-cycles. Moon cycles are non-stop and a continual process and the animated video presents the infinite cycles that comprise the universe through the waxing and fading roti (bread) moons. In the project, once the moon comes to a very thin form and afterwards it becomes a larger rounded shape. Here forms also change in varied dimensions, and breads come here as a symbolic presentation of life cycles.  
Internationally recognised, Pakistani-born American artist Shahzia Sikander is best known for her experimentation with the formal constructs of Indo-Persian miniature painting in a variety of formats and mediums, including video, animation, mural and collaboration with other artists. At the summit, her 3-channel animation work, focusing on the Strait of Hormuz and the area's historical power tensions; the animation Parallax is inspired by the idea of conflict and control. Numerous small, insect-like drawn elements congregate and disperse to create dissonance and disruption. Abstract, representational and textual forms coexist and push for domination. Spheres made of hair spin and sing, Christmas trees made of valves and spools spout, while undulating colour fields create pitch and fervour and large swaths of static noise erupt into flocks. Human voices recite and narrate, creating anxiety and rhythm while oscillating between audible texts and the environmental sounds. Visual vocabulary is culled from drawings and paintings to construct the animation, giving the motifs and symbols a shifting identity as they come together to re-create meaning within the digital space.


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