Even on a leisurely stroll down Scollard Street you won't miss the jazzy red canopy of Gallery Hittite. Located at Yorkville, the heart of Toronto's vibrant art scene, Hittite has a deep and emotional connection with Bangladesh.
In 2009, the gallery hosted a two-man show--a fine pairing of Bangladeshi architect Rafiq Azam and artist Syed Iqbal.
A year later gallery-goers of Toronto witnessed a major group show of 14 leading Bangladeshi artists including Mohammad Kibria, Qayyum Chowdhury, Rafiqun Nabi, and Monirul Islam. The exhibition was result of a joint collaboration of Bengal Gallery, South Asian Gallery of Art and Gallery Hittite. The exposition 'From Dhaka with Love' became a toast of the city's art enthusiasts, who had an exposure to contemporary Bangladeshi greats for the first time.
Born in a great multicultural city of Istanbul and an accomplished artist herself, the director of the gallery Sara Bilge Caglar's main interest has always been to capture multicultural current of Toronto and explore unity in diverse art production.
The annual summer show of the gallery this year showcasing 16 artists of nine nationalities, has been a rich harvest of diverse artistic expressions and celebration of multiculturalism. Concluded on July 23, the summer show was made rich in colour and texture with the inclusion of three Bangladeshi artists—Tajuddin Ahmed, Syed Iqbal and Laila Sharmeen. Commenting on the show Sara said, “The inclusion of three artists from Bangladesh makes the show more interesting and colourful.” She added, “Syed Iqbal has played a key role in connecting me to Bangladesh and its rich artistic tradition.”
Though starkly different in their deliberations, the artist trio seems connected at a deeper subliminal level: they all tell personal emotions in coded symbols. And they all have found lyrical expressionism the best way to express themselves.
Tajuddin is a natural colourist. Colour for him has its own volume and texture. His canvas is a celebration of colours and how they guide the forms is an interesting experience for viewers.
For Syed Iqbal, what matters in painting is the emotions it arouses. His images are often disjoined, at times suggestive, still at other times stylised and submerged in apparently abstract compositions. Most of the time, his images reveal themselves to viewers only after close observation. He thwarts the possibility of a narrative emerging from the images.
Delicate splotches of blue, red and grey decorate the impressive yet intricate and lyrical compositions of Laila Sharmeen. Disturbed and dejected by the inequalities and incongruities of life, Sharmeen seeks her inspiration in literature and attempts to construct an ideal landscape all her own.
Ziaul Karim is an art critic.