Fine art and artists through the eyes of Fayza Haq
Art critic Fayza Haq began writing for The Daily Sun (Pakistan) in 1970 while she was teaching at Karachi University. Continuing two professions simultaneously was a problem for her and subsequently her father asked her to choose between them. Fayza then decided to continue journalism and switched to The Morning News (Pakistan). Later, she worked at The Bangladesh Observer and The Bangladesh Times until joining The Daily Star at its inception almost a quarter century back.
She kept writing on fine arts, classical music, dance and book reviews during her long career. She thinks that her works will inspire interested youth to write on fine arts and help them develop as outstanding art critics. Recently, the veteran journalist talked on different aspects of the Bangladeshi art scene, and shared her experiences of working with artists and master painters. Excerpts:
“Bangladeshi art is leaning to the West. And there are several isms -- impressionism, fauvism, expressionism, cubism and symbolism—which have an impact on them.”
“The ramifications of the Second World War brought these isms together. Picasso and Braque influenced artists of our times. Of course, Picasso has been influencing us by his words and vision.
“The works of Henry Moore influenced sculptor Novera and she simplified and formalised the figures in her works. That influenced modernist art like what Hamiduzzaman is doing today.”
“We think of the presentation of women in art as beautiful. What is beauty? Beauty is what Botticelli told us in his depiction of 'The Birth of Venus'. The concept of beauty lies in Vinci's 'Monalisa'. It is about how they understand women. Sculpture emerged earlier, and in any case art goes back to the cave art full of animal imageries. But today we preserve something unique and modern; modern in the sense that it is the part of our culture. Today's art is a reflection of theirs.”
“Ranabi (Rafiqun Nabi ) delineated common people like tokai. Zainul Abedin and Quamrul Hassan also brought in ordinary people. They depicted village girls, the shy wife and girls with nose rings. Safiuddin Ahmed too brought in ordinary people in his works. SM Sultan depicted the ordinary people of Bengal in a way that they were really the heroes of Bengal -- the peasants, the farmers and their inner strength.”
“Storing and hoarding of rice by the colonial rule caused the 1943 famine which was artificially created which Zainul Abedin was against. He represented the inhuman stories in quick black and white sketches --animals, bird's and human beings digging and eating rubbish and dying on roadside. Safiuddin's representation of flood, the boat and the angry eyes are remarkable. Aminul Islam and Mohammad Kibria renewed the trend. Nature is very important for artists. Unfortunately, we are losing greenery and water in Dhaka.”
“The different aspects of the Liberation War were depicted by many artists like Safiuddin Ahmed, Shahabuddin Ahmed, Qayyum Chowdhury and Biren Shome. Shahabuddin Ahmed did diverse works on the War. Artists of Charukala have made immense contributions to arts, among them are Farida Zaman, Kanak Chapa Chakma, Rokeya Sultana, Biren Shome, Shishir Bhattacahrya and Wakilur Rahman. Abdus Shakoor depicted myths and legends in his works. Abdus Satter has portrayed beautiful women and has brought in much beauty in Oriental Art. Nasreen Begum has also followed such. Shawkatuzzaman's works are in details. He has depicted flowers, women, the idyllic beauty, harmony of the past, fish, fishing net and the traditional lifestyle of Bengal.”
“Young artists have depicted the dried up concrete jungle of today. Shawon, for example, has represented the crisis of modernity and exhibited his works in Alliance Francaise de Dhaka (AFD). So many young artists have showcased their works in AFD, Dhaka Art Centre and Bengal Art Lounge. Of the organisations, Bengal Foundation is doing a commendable job. The Dhaka Art Centre has come up. Art collectors, connoisseurs, patrons and all art lovers must go to galleries to look at works of artists and to carry forward the rich legacy of our arts.”