Safiuddin Ahmed’s retrospective on displayMusfequr Rahman
Master artist Safiuddin Ahmed’s retrospective is definitely a rare viewing for art lovers. The twelve-day retrospective titled ‘Tribute to great master Safiuddin Ahmed’ at the Bengal Gallery of Fine Arts in Dhanmondi, features 70 exquisite artworks by the recently demised master artist, done between 1940s to 2008, up until his becoming ill.
The displayed artworks have been selected from two previous solo exhibitions organised by the gallery in 2008 and 2010, with paintings belonging to the well known series including Black Series, Dumka, Mayurakkhi and Flood, which demonstrate his mastery of different mediums such as printmaking, oil paintings, drawings and watercolour.
The retrospective features a few of his early works, depicting the life and struggle of rural people, translucent beauty of nature, life surrounding a major river Mayurakkhi of West Bengal , nature and people of Dumka district of Jharkhand in India and devastating floods in the mid 1950s in Dhaka and other places.
One of the five founders of the Dhaka Art College, now Faculty of Fine Arts of Dhaka University, Shilpaguru Safiuddin Ahmed is known as a pioneer printmaker in Bangladesh, who also did experimentation with wood and metal engraving, dry-point, etching and aquatint.
In his dry point work ‘Near the Mayurakkhi’, done in 1945, Safiuddin Ahmed depicted two young rural women, with water pitchers, taking rest on the bank of the River Mayurakkhi in their leisure moments of daily life.
Safiuddin Ahmed’s dexterity in oil paintings is also known to all. He applied multiple layers of thick oil colour on canvases using spatula and varied brushes, to infuse a transparent look even with opaque oil paintings.
In the oil painting ‘Rhythm of Lines’, Ahmed depicted a woman with an elongated nose and eyes, using width contour lines. The ambiguous female form resembles a dancing bird within an imaginary blue ambience in the work of the artist, who always had the urge to reveal something new. The retrospective also features a few of his critically acclaimed oil paintings such as ‘Carpenter’, ‘Angling’, ‘Memories of 1971’, ‘Black Fish’, ‘The Melody of Nature’, ‘Flood and Bookshop in Paris’.
Ahmed’s mastery in infusing the unique wash-technique on translucent watercolour is also visible in his watercolour works, including ‘The Red Path’, ‘Angling’, ‘Portrait and Landscapes’. Ahmed’s unique artworks, done with the combination of charcoal, ink and watercolour, belonging to his Black series and Empty Chicken Coop series added dimension to the exhibition.
Ahmed’s drawings, having crescent, angular, delicate and soft lines, done in pen and ink, charcoal and crayon, pencil, brush and ink and carbon pencil demonstrate the artist’s devotion, sharp observation in depicting rural life, women’s emotions and serenity of nature, artistically.
The introverted artist never opted for commercialisation of his paintings, which he adored like his children, in his glorious artistic career of over seven decades. With his demise, those paintings are under the custody of his youngest son, artist Ahmed Nazir. Ahmed Nazir told New Age, ‘Now, I am the caretaker of the paintings, but I would like to hand over the artworks to Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy for preservation.’
The exhibition will remain open from 12:00pm to 8:00pm till June 23.
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