Guru-Shishya: Shishya-Guru in review | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, January 25, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, January 25, 2019

Guru-Shishya: Shishya-Guru in review

Guru- Shishya parampara is an ancient teaching-learning heritage of the sub-continent. Over time, the line between the pedagogue and the students has reaches a blur, where the student takes the spot of the teacher and vice-versa. With this concept, The Oriental Painting Studio Bangladesh is hosting their first group exhibition titled, Guru-Shishya: Shishya-Guru at La Galerie, Alliance Française de Dhaka. The featured artists at the exhibition are Malay Bala, Zahangir Alom and Amit Nandi. The exhibition is dedicated to the late artist Shawkatuzzaman.

During the inauguration, Professor Nisar Hossain, Dean, Faculty of Fine Art, University of Dhaka (DU), explained the trajectory of oriental painting and corrected the myths associated with it. "It is not mimicking what we see. Oriental art is the expression that lies within what we see presented in a completely new way," he said. He went on to  explain how the nephew of Rabindranath Tagore, Abanindranath Tagore, was the creator of the Indian Society of Oriental Art and was the most critically important figure of the influential Bengal School of Art, which led to the development of modernity in Indian painting.

In the exhibition, while the master extracted his inspiration from the rasa of Shankuntala, disciple Zahangir Alom placed the colours of nature on his canvas, while Amit Nandi enacted the verses from Mahabharata in his own style. Curated by Amirul Rajiv, the distinct characteristic of each artist was visible through their work. However the arrangement could have been improved. The wall with cool colour palette suddenly ending with intense bright colours creates visual discomfort. The character in exhibition demanded a smoother transition. 


Visual artist Malay Bala is an associate professor at the Department of Oriental Art, DU and the preceptor of Zahangir and Amit. His storytelling through soft colours and ancient figures is a treat to the eyes. "I do not have many messages hidden in my paintings. I intend to take my audience through an emotional journey,” says Malay Bala. “The figures in my painting are from the traditional verses of Shakuntala who are engaged in joyful activity." The portraits of Tagore and Gautam Buddha wrapped around the rhythmic root figures beamed serenity. The solo wall with the monochromatic portrait tribute to mime artist Partha Pratim Majumder stood out beautifully.


Visual artist Zahangir Alom takes his inspiration from nature. Although he calls himself a self-taught artist, his Gurus call him the master of colours. Taming the bright colours is child's play for him. "He is brilliant with colours. I often ask him to mix the colours for me. I like his passion for learning and often I learn from him", comments Guru Malay Bala on Alom. Most of his paintings had the wash-effect. The fluidity of his work looked like music on canvas. "I do not follow any grammar. I travel a lot to gather inspiration,” says Alom.  “I observe the colours of nature and try to bring the same on canvas.”


The youngest of the three is Amit Nandi, a lecturer at Department of Oriental Art, DU. The centerpiece of the exhibition was his painting, Raga Kedar. The soft-spoken artist mentioned that he takes inspiration from mythological sagas and blend it with everyday actions. “I used figures from Kalighat painting but blended them with my own interpretation of the sagas,” Amit comments. He also mentioned the art addas at the studio help him to conceive the ideas. Along with his framed paintings, his miniature sagas from the Mahabharata were highly appreciated. His preceptors and seniors ushered him with words of appreciation during the exhibition. Malay Bala said, “By age I maybe the eldest but I am highly moved by the works of Zahangir and Amit. Amit is a very talented; he has not only surpassed his peers but also his preceptors.”

The Oriental Painting Studio Bangladesh also runs a study group that has successfully organised eight oriental painting exhibitions with participants from home and abroad. They began 2019 with this group exhibition and have more events coming up. The studio intends to open new opportunities for oriental art in Bangladesh.

The exhibition is open for all and will run until February 1 from 3 pm to 9 pm on weekdays, and from 9 am to 12 noon and 5 pm- 8 pm on the weekends.

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