Gallery Kobe Hankyu is currently hosting renowned Bangladeshi painter Mohammad Iqbal's solo exhibition, titled The Holy Circle at Kobe, Japan. This is Iqbal's 45th solo exhibition, featuring 32 oil and acrylic paintings on the titles Dreaming of a Safer World, Distant Skies, Peace in Time of Disquiet and Unknown Faces. Organised by the famous Japanese departmental store Hankyu, the show was opened on March 25 and will conclude today (March 31).
Iqbal enjoys the different facets of nature and human beings. He depicts the marginalised sects of the society on his canvas. The artist follows a scientific method called gesso, to prepare his works. He coats his canvas, mingling Arabic gum, water and linseed oil in equal proportions.
Iqbal's oil paintings have become a hallmark of his own, featuring eight to ten layers of colours. Dots are the signature style of the artist, who puts them on the empty space of the canvas to denote the imaginary icon of the non-visual agents that cause environmental pollution.
"I complete every painting with a lot of time, embellishing each portion of the painting with dots and thin lines. I use pointed needles and thin brushes to do the job, which is time-consuming and requires utmost patience. Every dot and line meaningfully appears in my canvas," explains the artist. "The recent global outbreak of the coronavirus is a great threat to mankind and nature. I have been representing the non-visual agents in my paintings to make people aware of the silent killers, like life-threatening viruses and bacteria."
Narrative art is an artistic genre that tells a complete story, either as a moment in an ongoing event, or as a sequence of events unfolding over time. As an artist, many of Iqbal's works reflect this genre. His socio-political consciousness, coupled with his thoughts on environmental issues, are lucid and coherent. His art reflects his concerns about the turmoil of world politics and wars, in which children are the most-affected victims. Children's emotional eyes create the 'golden sections' of his paintings that express surprise, pain, puzzlement, panic and a longing for the good days to come.
According to Iqbal, children are vulnerable to the endangered environmental issues created by greedy manufacturers. "I saw a dead child's innocent face gleaming through a destructed building of Gaza in a newspaper. Children are not safe in Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq or any war-torn area of the world," says Iqbal. "I don't want to uphold the destruction and death of war; rather, as a protest to wars, I depict the innocent faces of the children. Their emotional gazes search for peace."
The artist also has a great reverence for the Bauls, a group of mystic minstrels of Bangladesh. Many of his characters on canvas are usually saints, spiritualists, exploited people and mystic bards. He envisages the charm of their lives and mingles his own artistic imaginations with the affluent nature and vast beauty and magnanimity of the universe. His canvas represents mystic bards and ancient edifices, along with the distant romance of the skies and hills.
Iqbal is an Associate Professor at the Department of Drawing and Painting, Faculty of Fine Art, University of Dhaka. He emerged in the country's art scene in the 1990s. He has held many exhibitions and received numerous awards at both home and abroad.