Of pain and poignancy

2007-12-19__cl011.jpgMahbubur Rahman’s ongoing installation exhibition, “The story of a deceased man” is on at Galleri Kaya. Rahman impressed the Dhaka art scene earlier with his iconoclastic protests at Alliance Francaise Gallery some years back. To his credit goes 19 awards plus the Grand Prize (Gold Medal) at the 11th Asian Art Biennale 1992.
Forward looking, outspoken and bold, Rahman’s vision is global even though, at times, he trammels some of the views of the conservative art lovers. In his painting, installation, prints and video work, he has defied the confines of present society and reached out to usher in modern views and opinions. The artist and his wife Lipi work for Britto Arts Trust.
Rahman questions and provokes the viewer’s sensibility and forges ahead to present his themes that carry shock techniques. Thus he brings in themes such as violation and suicide to present global issues such as pollution, aggression and self-annihilation. Although his style is contemporary, Rahman does not forget his roots. He amalgamates traditional folk art with the history of Bangladesh.
Some time back, Rahman worked with Dhaka rickshaw painters and the Mithila Arts of India that led to a decisive revival of folk art. These too were seen in the recent past in galleries such as that of Alliance Francaise.
For Rahman bright hues play an important role in his paintings and installation work as well as his prints. The sharp, resonant, bright colours such as vermilion, emerald green, cobalt blue and earthy shades offset his blacks and whites.
He brings in mostly images of humans and animals along with inanimate objects like dolls, other toys and fishnets. Rahman assimilates children’s nursery playthings and paints tales of pain and poignancy. The sharp contrasting colours redeem the harshness of his paintings and installation images, plus his accompanying videos. His recent theme is babies — the symbol of new life and nascent growth.
Rahman uses razor blades, pins, shaving gel, scissors, mirrors and women’s personal toiletry in the 15-minute performance of “Pink rose falls down along with me”. Here he narrates the tragic story of a child who is born with brain damage due to an accident the mother endures. Rahman tells “stories we prefer not to hear.”
Another entry “Beautiful angels are flying for peace” comprises wood, metal, birdcage, actual bird wings, dolls, beads, video and paintings by Rafiq — a rickshaw painter. In this installation work the viewer is confronted with the reality. The theme is a protest against those who speak of peace, clutching guns in their hands.
Rahman’s artwork has always been mind whirling and laden with undercurrents of humour.

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