Chairperson of Bengal Foundation Abul Khair, left, Brac founder Sir Fazle Hasan Abed, middle, and Professor Emeritus Anisuzzaman looking at paintings of SM Sultan after inaugurating the Daily Star-Bengal Arts Precinct at The Daily Star Centre yesterday. Photo: Star
In an effort to patronise arts and culture, The Daily Star and Bengal Foundation yesterday jointly launched “Daily Star-Bengal Arts Precinct” at The Daily Star Centre in Karwan Bazar through an exhibition of paintings by SM Sultan.
The exhibition titled “Poradrishti” or "Second Sight" features oil paintings, ink drawings and charcoal sketches by the arts maestro.
In the launching event, Professor Emeritus Anisuzzaman recalled how SM Sultan documented life in rural Bangladesh.
“The subjects of his paintings are general people,” said a bemused Anisuzzaman.
"The artist's paintings gave power to the powerless ... they were always depicted in their most robust nature," observed Brac founder Sir Fazle Hasan Abed.
Chairperson of Bengal Foundation Abul Khair, in his address to media, stressed the need for more people to come forward to patronise arts.
Mahfuz Anam, editor and publisher of The Daily Star, said the convergence of a media house with an arts foundation is a landmark venture in the country.
"And we hope that it is the first of many such collaborations between different organisations," he said.
Arts enthusiasts, who kept the gallery abuzz throughout the programme, hailed the initiative.
"The involvement of a media house with an arts foundation would mean more publicity for artworks, which will help change the condition of artists," said Mohammad Iqbal, who himself is an artist.
“More art galleries mean the viewers will get more exposure to art,” said his wife Maqsuda Iqbal Nipa, also an artist.
The exhibition, which will remain open to all between 12noon and 8:00pm till July 13, showcases 33 paintings from the personal collection of Abul Khair, who was personally acquainted with Sultan.
The artworks depict rural life in its crudest form. Farmers are shown tilling the land in one of the paintings, where the artist painstakingly reconstructed the earth down to its last clump, while ploughs draw the spectators into the vortex they created on the hard surface of the earth.
It features oil paintings created in the 80's and 90's showing scenes of the plights of villagers during the Liberation War. The use of golden husks of newly reaped grains enlivens the season of harvest on his canvas.
Other paintings bring to life the beauty of Bangladesh during different parts of the day. Vibrant daylight comes alive through a schoolchild's palette of primary hues like cobalt and grassy greens, ochre and sienna. The serenity of transient dawns and dusks were delineated in pastel tints.
And the ink sketches display in a flurry of textures fishermen in a frantic battle to survive.