Bengal Foundation hosted two events at Daily Star-Bengal Arts Precinct on July 12, as part of extended programmes of 'Second Sight', an exhibition of selected paintings and drawings by SM Sultan from the private collection of Abul Khair.
The programme began with screening of a video interview of late film-maker Tareque Masud, where he talked about the making of “Adam Surat”, a documentary on SM Sultan. He explained how his unit decided to make a documentary on Sultan and why it took seven years to complete the project. Masud also shared his experience and his relationship with Sultan.
The screening was followed by a conversation, “Prakriti o Purush”, on representation of women and men in Sultan's art. The discussants of the conversation were artist Dhali Al Mamoon, Professor Salimullah Khan and Professor Dina M. Siddiqi.
Dhali Al Mamoon opened the dialogue, explaining the importance of Sultan's artworks and their relation to his life. Dr. Salimullah Khan stated that Masud was inspired to make “Adam Surat” after Ahmod Sofa wrote a memoir on Sultan that prompted writers to publish stories, articles and novels on Sultan. He also mentioned that Masud and Mishuk Munier went to Pakistan to photograph Sultan's artworks. Dr. Khan talked about Sultan's unique lifestyle and his roots in the rural areas of Bangladesh, even though he had travelled around the globe. Dr. Khan observed that Sultan started painting again in Bangladesh after 1972 and the subjects of his works are mostly inspired by the Liberation War, and in some of his works (he mentioned one titled “Biplob”) Sultan had the courage to critique himself and the methods and beliefs of society.
Dr. Dina M. Siddiqi started the discussion by pointing to the simplicity of Sultan's lifestyle. After travelling for years, he decided to return to his own land as he wanted to maintain his identity as a Bengali. Dr. Siddiqi said that Sultan's first exhibition in Srinagar was arranged by Canadian women which prove how indifferent he was about fame. She also mentioned that Sultan represented women's physical features as laboring, rather than oriented towards sexuality or romanticism.
The conversation was followed by an interactive question time with the audience.
“Second Sight”, perhaps the most significant exhibition of works by Sultan since his death in 1994, was arranged by Bengal Foundation to celebrate the opening of Daily Star-Bengal Arts Precinct, the Foundation's fourth arts venue in Dhaka. The exhibition, which closed yesterday, also featured a number of musical performances and discussions in line with Sultan's life and works.