(continued...) The buildings of Old Dhaka continue to inspire artists. The belfries, porticoes, animals and people that inhabited this place, years back, encourage artists to paint, sometimes bringing in fragments of their memories. At an exhibition last year at Shilpangan marking its 25th anniversary, renowned artists used their palettes to recreate scenes from their well-loved old city.
Monirul Islam of Spain, did “Sunset in Lalbagh”, acrylic on paper board, which evokes memories of the past mingled with the present. The place is now used by the TV and machines and chairs speak of that. The past is a wash of vermilion, jet-black and earthy colours of umber, burnt-sienna and yellow-ochre. Furniture and fixture form the wardrobe of the TV are outlined in front. Green, Red and gold overwhelm the onlooker.
“Memory of Dhakai River” was an acrylic on paper, by Jamal Ahmed. The vast expanse of the river that Jamal loves to paint was visible, along with the gold and blue of the sky. A semi-circle formation of boats was seen in front, with the greyish rowers. To the right were boats, people and houses in white, hints of white and washes of vermilion. The boat, in the centre was in black and vermillion. In the distance, to the left, were houses in blue and white, along with boats.
Abdus Shakoor's “Shattered dream”, pen and ink, was a world apart from his Mymensingh myths and legends. Here there were no delineations of men and women or calligraphy. There was no colour apart from the colour of the crow, the night sky and the thatch work of portions of houses. The criss-cross with the pen brought in a unique effect. The black and beige brought in a “doyel pakhi” in the forefront. In all it was a magnificent composition with minimal strokes.
“Armenian Church”, in mixed media, by Ranjit Das, displayed a steeple with its cross, the important raves of the Armenians who brought business to Dhaka in the past, the shrubs and the numerous alcoves and porticoes. The vermillion and gold was magnificent indeed and spoke of a master of paints, with an eye for detail.
The water-colour by Kamaluddin of “Old House Balcony at Farashganj” brought in the exotic beauty of the past Colonial times. The detailed frescoes, gables, windows, porticoes and balustrades were painted with care. The beige mixed with burnt-umber with touches of pink and green-blue was nonpareil. The criss-crossing lines of the modern electric wiring against the clear blue and gold was remarkable too.
Rezaun Nabi's “Kite Festival”, acrylic on canvas, portrayed a festival of Old Dhaka. The multi-coloured kites, seen against the royal blue sky were pleasing to the eye. The work recalled an important tradition, followed all over the subcontinent, but for which modern Dhakaitites amidst the pell-mell of life, have little respite.