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     Volume 4 Issue 40 | April 1, 2005 |

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WOMEN United

The recent exhibition by Shako, an organisation of women artists, provides a chance for the viewers to taste the latest crop of works from contemporary women artists.

It was sometime in July 2003, as Farida Zaman recalls, that Shako came into existence. It is a ten-member group committed to art and "social work" as the preface of the catalogue suggests. The recent show brings together works of 13 artists of varied age groups. Dispersed in two adjacent rooms at Bengal Gallery, it is the fourth effort by Shako.

The word "shako" means bridge in Bangla. It stands for friendship. The group attempts just that, they try and rope in across the spectrum artists. The "Colours of Shako," as the show is titled, includes three artists who are not members. They are Farjana Ruma, young social activist with an Arts major, Ferdousy Priyabhashini, the much revered self-taught artist whose work melds craft with art, and Trina Bohan Tyrie, a New Zealander, with a diploma in graphic design.

The show is a conglomeration of ideas and styles. Yet, there is this simplicity in the thought pattern that connects all the participants. Even the social critics seemed to have toned down their biting, abrasive languages to fit into the spectrum. As is envident in the works of Fareha Zeba and Shulekha Chowdhury. Not that they have abandoned their project of revealing the hidden, unpalatable aspect, dichotomy of the middle class.

Though most works are tied to the old school of thought, there are some indications of fresh new reflections. Back from her prolonged sojourn in the USA, Laila Sharmeen has created a world of her own by attempting a fusion of Abstract Expressionism with her scribbles that tend to lay bare her Bangali psyche.

Ferdousy Priyabhashini, with her works made of found tree trunks, stands out. Most of her sculptural pieces retain an expressive quality that captures the imagination of most gallery goers. However, among her latest yields, there is a superb piece that looks like an abandoned multi-story structure. The interesting aspect of her work is that they always seem effortless, as she possesses a magical power to transform the found objects by doing the least. This particular piece too is a reminder of her capability of transforming the real into an imaginary prop that points back to reality. As bold as she always is, Priyabhashini has whittled out a building out of a trunk of a palm tree in primitive manner. This is the magic that she is able to create in her work.

Nasreen Begum, who inspired a group of young artists by her new approach to the Oriental technique, now, is trying to come to terms with realism. The realistic petals that are strewn across the work "Nature" is testimony to this. In "Green Water (Logged)" too she tries to veer toward realism. Green dominates the work and it depicts the other side of the city where the last remaining water bodies are gradually shrinking. The image underplays this aspect, as it is too aesthetically inclined.

Naima Haque draws on the structures of Cubism, courtesy of Picasso. In "Cold Steel" a Picasso-like woman a faces a red structure. She fails to do much with structures and forms in the other two works. The pull of the past works is resisting her to chart newer grounds. The mildly textured backdrop in each work testifies this. Her present tendency is to change her art by resorting to art history. Farida Zaman too seems to be trying to change her course by incorporating human figures. Her figures remind one of the works of other artists. She is standing at a crossroad, the traces of her dot-filled works have disappeared altogether.

Kuhu, Kanak Chanpa Chakma, Shulekha Choudhury and Fareha Zeba are present with their usual visual brews. Islam Milky could have shown a little more boldness to break out of her usual muld. Her brass sculptures remain as expressionistic as before and they surely are eye-catching.

Farjana Ruma's entries are naive. The directness that she depicts her reality has possibilities, if she is willing to employ her craft to express artistic concepts. The only foreigner, Bohan Tyrie, is a realist. Her works are perfectly rendered portraits. The way she mixes water colour with pastel to bring out the personality of her sitter shows her faithfulness to academic learning.

Colours of Shako kicked off on March 23 and will remain open till April 6, 2005. Bengal Gallery has printed a nice catalogue that introduces both works and their creators. The short information that has been given on artists seems too short, especially for a catalogue that is fairly capatious.




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