“Face of a Farmer”, Safiuddin Ahmed, wood engraving; “Journey of a Great Master-28”, Ahmed Nazir, digital print.
Marking 92nd birth anniversary of Shilpaguru Safiuddin Ahmed, Ahmed Nazir (son of the master artist) paid homage to his father through a solo exhibition featuring some of his recent works at Gallery Chitrak. Eminent artists Rafiqun Nabi and Qayyum Chowdhury jointly inaugurated the exhibition on June 20.
The exhibition is exceptionally evocative for two reasons: artworks of several noted artists of 1930s and '40s including Safiuddin Ahmed's teachers Mukul Day and Abdul Moin; his friends Haren Das, SN Ghasal, Sharkanta Nath Mitra, Susil Candro Sen, Susil Das and Murali Dhar Tali [all hailing from India] and several outstanding wood engravings, oils, drypoints and a watercolour of Shilpaguru himself are on display on the one side; on the other hand, a series of works titled “Journey of a Great Master” (digital prints) by Ahmed Nazir are being exhibited at the gallery. The exhibition has been dedicated to the great master Safiuddin Ahmed, his teachers and friends.
“Safiuddin Ahmed preserved the original works of those artists as memorabilia since the works were valuable to him. While I was a student I found that he used to feel proud of his teachers' works. Before commenting on any works, he used to analyse those thoroughly and appreciate a work on the basis of his personal observation, aesthetic sense and the method adopted,” writes Rafiqun Nabi inside the catalogue.
Mukul Day's artwork (drypoint) tells the saga of intimate coexistence between human beings and nature. The masterpiece is a depiction of mythical connotations and has an affluent oriental taste, serenity and fine detailing. Abdul Moin was Safiuddin Ahmed favourite teacher. From the collection, Ahmed Nazir has kept two wood engravings, two drawings, two lithographs and a study of Mughal style at the exhibition. One of his drawings depicts a Sufi poet engrossed in his creativity.
Among his friends, Haren Das' wood engraving portrays celebration of Santal festivity; SN Ghasal's lithography represents shared woes of the downtrodden and Susil Candro Sen's lithography illustrates simplicity of bucolic beauty.
Shilpaguru Safiuddin Ahmed had a fascination for wood engravings at the beginning. Apart from some of his previously-exhibited masterpieces “Homeward” (1944), “Santal Women” (1946), “On the Way to Fair” (1947), the exhibition showcases the great master's other classical works, including “Bakura Landscape” (1942), “View from Santiniketan” (1945), “Visage of a Peasant” (1942), “Mayurakkhi” (1945), “On the Banks of the Mayurakkhi” (1945), “Dumka-1” (1944) and “Dumka-2” (1945).
The viewers might get a unique taste in looking at each piece, whether a wood engraving, an etching, an aquatint or an oil. The master created a kind of rich tradition in the printmaking milieu. In this genre of art, he was successful and established himself in the pinnacle of creativity. Safiuddin Ahmed was also a close associate of Shilpacharya Zainul Abedin.
Ahmed Nazir's works are predominantly commemorative and may be considered a treatise, mingling with emotional adoration to his father. Nazir's experimental works zoom in on Safiuddin Ahmed's portraits of different stages. He has also portrayed a pen picture of the rich tribute paid by fans of Safiuddin following his departure. “Innovativeness is strongly visible in the entire exhibition. Nazir has tried to manipulate the techniques of digital print to say something through his works which reflect modern mingling of realism and broken forms, sometimes akin to collage where experimentation is very prominent,” writes Rafiqun Nabi inside the catalogue.
The exhibition, opening from 10am to 8pm daily, ends on July 5.