Standing the test of time | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, July 06, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:02 AM, July 06, 2018

Standing the test of time

Nisar Hossain's exhibit at Kalakendra

Professor Nisar Hossain is a renowned artist, critic, connoisseur, activist, organiser and the Dean of the Faculty of Fine Art, University of Dhaka. As a socially conscious and responsible artist, he always tries to grasp the time and its spirit in his pursuit of art. He is thought to be one of the best art organisers after Shilpacharya Zainul Abedin.

The artist believes that the journey of contemporary art should always be contemporary. “The theme, aspect, language and presentation of the art must represent the specific time. Some say that Van Gogh was 200 years ahead of his contemporary artists; but I interpret it like the contemporary artists of Van Gogh were lagged behind him by 200 years,” says Nisar Hossain. “If you consider him after two hundred years his significance will be lessened; but if you judge his caliber according to his time, he is extremely important. The major responsibility of an artist is to stay relevant to the time.”

The artist's second solo exhibition titled Linear Text of a Delirious Time is now underway at Kalakendra, Mohammadpur, Dhaka. Eminent artist Rafiqun Nabi inaugurated the show as chief guest on June 30. The exhibit, curated by Wakilur Rahman, is open from 5pm to 8pm daily until July 25. Kalakendra has arranged an art talk by Nisar Hossain today at 5pm at its premises.  

Though basically a painter and installation artist, Nisar Hossain, over the years, has created a distinctive art language of his own. The show, featuring drawings, relief process prints, small etching and puthichitra on palm leaves, is a rare display that represents contemporary time and its harsh reality. “I want to connect my audience with works I create. The expression of the oppressors/torturers and the victims are highlighted in my works. Besides, the environmental degradation, deforestation, panic-evoking news published in the media and socio-political-religious anomies are subjects of my works,” he says. The elements and the use of space used in his drawing-based paintings suggest such connotations and feelings he deals with.

He participated in an art camp titled “Living with Art”, held at Raghurajpur, Orissa, India. Artist Aziz Sharafi, son of legendary Tagore singer Kalim Sharafi and a Professor at the Department of Graphic Design, Washburn University, Kansas, USA, annually organises the camp where local community artists practise traditional art entirely belonging to their profession. “Taal Patar Puthichitra is the oldest and the long lasting media of our paintings, as the famous pieces of Progna-Paromita were depicted on it. And the possibility of the media is immense as I can continue subtle drawings on it. We closely worked together and gained experience from their chitrapothi (painting on palm tree). Though I first collected their art in 1996, I fell in love with the media. I have used their art material but created compositions of my own.”

Fear of Darkness is a famous series where the artist has tried to portray the dark aspects of time. He allegorically uses black colour that symbolises a shock. A kind of fear works in our psyche. The artworks contain forms, faces and expressions of ominous creatures, animals and humans. Gestures of ugly and bizarre expressions with provocation of threat are prominent in his art. The series also signifies the chronology of decaying time.

 “I also depicted the oppressors of certain time and the trend continued later on. I also took part in a group art show titled Celebration Violence with one of my vast work Diary of the Hell (20 feet) along with text and sound,” concludes Nisar Hossain.

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