Rafiqun Nabi maintains relevance, brilliance | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, April 19, 2013 / LAST MODIFIED: 09:14 PM, April 18, 2013

Rafiqun Nabi maintains relevance, brilliance

a05Rafiqun Nabi is a veteran landscape and figurative painter. His works reflect an artist's reactions to the mysteries of nature. Sharp shadows and melting tones give his paintings a transcendental appeal. Nabi feels that landscape paintings have an ethereal touch.

His current solo exhibition is now on at Dhaka Art Centre in Dhanmondi.

Nabi uses his landscapes and figurative paintings to evoke memories of the past. The noted painter still recollects the memories of his childhood in his birthplace, Chapainababganj. Consequently a number of distinctive themes have appeared recurrently in his paintings: life of fishermen and boatmen, herds of cows and buffalos, day labourers, crows, kingfishers, goats, wild flowers and people at leisure chatting. Interrelationship -- among man, animal and nature -- is another noticeable subject in his paintings.

One of his paintings at the exhibition shows a number of water-vessels, with a man sleeping on a boat and some people chatting nearby. Nabi has chosen a certain language for describing the stories; as part of his experiment, he has been eagerly studying movements of figures and arrangements of compositions for a long time. In this sense, he is very meticulous about his composition and arrangement of figures. The painter is known for his subtle approach. His works are seemingly time-consuming and the artist goes great lengths to detail his subjects.

a06Nabi is a family-oriented man by nature, which shows in his works. A number of his paintings depict happy family life. The figures are superbly drawn and their facial expressions carry jovial mood. He portrays parents and their children with a realistic approach. The paintings' backgrounds are engrossed with large compositions and diverse vague forms, which carry his personal hallmark. These works remind us of our family values and the importance of bonding.

The exhibition also shows how Nabi's growing focus on the synergy between human beings and nature, which heartens the everyday life of people living in the rural areas. Despite the painter's avoidance of the metropolitan setting, however, one feels that the paintings are a nostalgic wish-fulfilment of someone who has seen the inevitable march of urbanisation that now threatens to intrude into the rural terrains.

Nabi is an artist who adheres to experimental realism. Mingling romanticism and impressionism, at times, the artist also portrays urban milieu where architectural lines and thorough use of space are highlights. At the exhibition, a number of paintings where blue, yellow, yellowish-brown, crimson, black and green have been primarily used, are on display. His continuous changes in his compositions make his works interesting and impressionistic. The artist also arranges motifs in different combinations according to light and shade.
The manner of drawing is a predominant aspect in his paintings. From the onset, Nabi has emphasised on drawings, particularly still life; subject study and pastoral atmosphere have always been highlighted in his works. The painter feels that drawings are a reflection of personal observations of an artist. It is the fundamental foundation of art.

Nabi started drawing in his childhood. In the early 1950s, his father took him to a painting exhibition, held at the then Bardhaman House (currently Bangla Academy). Realising his passion for art, his family decided to enrol him at the art college after matriculation. He got admission at the then College of Arts and Crafts (now Faculty of Fine Arts, University of Dhaka) and completed his Bachelors and Masters on Fine Arts. Later he joined the institute as a teacher. From 1973 to 1976, he studied printmaking in Athens School of Fine Arts under the Greek Government's postgraduate scholarship.

The exhibition at Dhaka Art Centre ends on April 22.

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