Art as a path of happiness in a violent world | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, November 14, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:06 AM, November 14, 2018

Art as a path of happiness in a violent world

From a young age, Morshed Mishu was an avid fan of comic books, so much so that he grew a knack for drawing comic-book characters, with the guidance of his brother. Apart from comic books, one of his biggest sources of inspiration for becoming a professional cartoonist was the popular satire magazine,Unmad. He has worked in many newspapers in various capacities and is currently an assistant editor at Unmad.

Mishu's artworks have been featured in a total of 15 to 16 group exhibitions so far, including one in Berlin and another in London. In July 2018, at the 40-year celebrations of Unmad, the cartoonist was honoured with an award for The Global Happiness Challenge, his project that turns heartbreaking photographs into happy art. Mishu conceived the idea for the drawing challenge after coming across gruesome photographs of tragedies and wars on his social media feeds. “I found those photographs so jarring that I started having sleepless nights, and as a result, I would just ignore them,” says Mishu. “Then, I decided that I do not want to look at excruciating suffering. I want to see a world without violence, where everyone is happy, and that is how I was compelled to initiate the drawing challenge.”

At the beginning of this year, Mishu started out by transforming the photograph of a tearful son, in the arms of his helpless father in a warzone, to an illustration of the same father and son laughing together in a beautiful field, surrounded by flowers and sunshine. Anik Khan, the executive editor of Unmad, is Mishu's mentor in this endeavour. He came up with the tagline – Ami shudhu aakte jaani,koshto gulo dhaakte jaani (I only know how to draw, how to cover the gloomy sorrow), for the project.

The Global Happiness Challenge has seen a tremendous reception from different corners of the world. So far, it has garnered recognition in the media of Afghanistan, Albania, Bangladesh, France, India, Indonesia, Iran, Kurdistan, Turkey, and Vietnam. Popular internet media and news companies such as AJ+, Bored Panda and Buzzfeed have also featured the project. “The greatest achievement for me is when people tell me that they find my illustrations for The Global Happiness Challenge touching and thought-provoking,” asserts Mishu.

Currently, The Global Happiness Challenge consists of nine artworks and Mishu hopes to produce 25 to 30 more. As his way of making a difference, he further aspires to host a solo exhibition on this project by next year in Bangladesh, and then take it beyond, to both war-ridden and developed nations. “This drawing challenge is not categorised by any country, borders, class, race, or religion. My aim is to spread the message of peace, positivity and happiness across the globe,” says Mishu, before taking a phone call from the Syrian media for yet another chat about his project.

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