Sumon Wahed is fresh back from Shantiniketan, where he had gone on an Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) scholarship. His ideas and sense of form and figures are unique, as was evident from a recent exhibition of his works at the Dhaka Art Centre, titled “Academic-Postacademic”.
The painting which moved me the most was of prisoners being taken from BDR. Their faces looked wan, and they clung on to the bars with hopelessness and misery. The haunted look in their eyes reminded one of Oscar Wilde's “Ballad of Reading Gaol”. The police bus was broken and battered. The frames of the two windows were done by applying pieces of wood which was painted over. There was a cross-like image, also 3-D, which connected the two window images.
As for his watercolours of a village scene and the dockyards, they were moving too. The scenes were from places like the other side of Buriganga and Keraniganj. The beauty of haystacks, the Santals of North Bengal, thatched mud huts or with corrugated roofs were captured with imagination and accuracy. The cycles and rickshaw carts appeared idyllic with Sumon's brushstrokes. The jade and emerald trees, the barren trunks of trees' hedges and ponds at the Faculty of Fine Arts, DU appeared places of repose.
There is a depiction of Gabtoli, with the sandbags. It is pearly grey due to the enveloping fog. Men, boats and houses in the background are visible despite the overwhelming mist. Waves of grey and white depict the pearly waves in front.
A Dinajpur scene depicts North Bengal, with mud and thatched houses. Inviting trees can be seen at the back.
In Ishwardi, we see a simple tea stall, with people in hitched-up lungis and van–carts. A few thatched houses are included. From Thakurgaon comes the serene scene of chicks and men in dhotis.
There were also dramatic, overwhelming pieces, with Tagore, Ramkinkar, Binod Bihari and Nanda Lal Bose and other gems of painting from the past.
An experimental work at the exhibition also includes the sex and violence that surrounds us in the city.