A shiny disco ball hanging from the ceiling, a smoke machine in the corner and people singing '80s Bangla pop songs is not among the usual sights and sounds at an exhibition gallery, but that is exactly what greeted visitors at Dhanmondi's Drik Gallery yesterday as they walked into an exhibition organised by Unmad, the country's premier humour magazine.
The exhibition, celebrating 40 years of the publication, opened yesterday at Gallery 1 and 2 at the venue, featuring past cover illustrations, special issues, works by senior cartoonists and illustrators, and curated cartoons of an anniversary-themed competition.
Eminent cartoonist and editor of Unmad, Ahsan Habib, inaugurated the programme, surrounded by colleagues and fans of all ages.
The exhibit also has 3D cartoons, installations and live caricature, in addition to the humour-rich artwork framed on the walls. The magazine's eccentric style is evident in an installation in the shape of a toilet commode, labelled "Unmadasan" that drew in a crowd of youngsters taking in the absurdity in their photos and selfies. Unmad merchandise including t-shirts, mugs, badges, and posters were also on sale.
Among guests at the event were many who have worked previously with Unmad -- the magazine being a platform for up-and-coming cartoonists for four decades. Syed Rashad Imam Tanmoy, founder of Cartoon People; Morshed Mishu, Lead 2D Artist at EndingScene.com; and Mehedi Haque, artist at Dhaka Comics -- all members of the editorial team of the magazine, were in attendance.
“It's wonderful to see Unmad sustain the same quality of wit and humour over so many years. I can credit it to the fact that we work in an environment that welcomes new talent. Young cartoonists bring in fresh, modern ideas to our cartoons and write-ups, and it helps us hold on to our early fans as well as garner new subscribers,” Mehedi Haque told The Daily Star.
Visitors consisted mostly of young people, many showing up in their school uniforms. Sami, 16, was invested in cartoons featuring the football World Cup stars. “It's a great feeling to see so many cartoons and caricatures under one roof. Unmad has been producing such work since long before I was born and it's wonderful to see that they're still carrying on,” he said.
Unmad began its journey in May 1978, under Kazi Khaled Ashraf and Ishtiaq Hossain, and continues today as the longest-running cartoon magazine in South Asia.
The exhibition is open every day from 3:00pm to 8:00pm till July 9.