Paintings by preceptor, disciples celebrate Orientalism

Tanzil Rahaman

Oriental painter Malay Bala and his disciples artists Amit Nandi and Zahangir Alom have showcased their paintings at a group show under way at Zainul Gallery of Dhaka University.
The week-long exhibition titled ‘Guru-Shishya: Shishya-Guru (Preceptor-Disciple: Disciple-Preceptor)’ has been organised by Oriental Painting Studio. The exhibition is the second of its kind under this banner.
The exhibition features a total of 37 paintings created in the well-known Orientalist style using watercolour, pencil and ink.
The paintings explore nature, meditation, classical dance forms, different ragas, mythical heritage, indeterminate identities of human beings alongside seasons and other subject matters suitable for the genre.
Noted sculptor-painter professor Hamiduzzaman Khan inaugurated the exhibition on March 2.
Bengal Foundation director general Luva Nahid Choudhury was present as the chief guest at the inaugural ceremony, which was presided over by dean of fine arts faculty professor Nisar Hossain.
Abinta Kabir Foundation chairperson Nilu Rowshan Murshed, founder and executive director of HerStory Foundation Zareen Mahmud Hosein and Hamid Fabrics Limited director Nusrat Mahmud were present as special guests.
Artist Malay Bala is an associate professor of oriental art department of Dhaka University. He has been instrumental in reviving the tradition of Oriental painting in Dhaka and has made a name for himself by using unique forms and shapes to portray nature. In this exhibition, he tackled portraitures of famous people, including that of Nandalal Bose, Quamrul Hassan and Kazi Nazrul Islam.
The portraitures are all set against nature. The artist employed various lines and forms, a clear reference to roots of trees, dominated by the colour yellow. As in the watercolour piece titled ‘Nazrul’, which shows a portrait of the country’s national poet Kazi Nazrul Islam.
A series done that veers away from naturalist tendency, seems to want to capture nature in its primordial form. With these works Malay Bala seems freer in the application of watercolour. As is evident in the work titled ‘Barsha Kheyal-1’, where he shows how the rain spreads colours in our life while another watercolour series entitled ‘Mukh Naki Mukush’ comprises six human faces portraying the individual expressions of their inner selves.
Amit Nandi, a visual artist and lecturer of the oriental art department of the University of Dhaka, displayed a series of watercolour paintings. The one titled ‘Raga Kedar-2’ shows a shape of a horse at the top of the work. A number of women figures are shown playing musical instruments wearing yellow and green dresses.
In the ‘Saga of Mythical Heritage’, a series worked on by Amit Nandi, he used only ink drawing, creating lines and forms to evoke emotions. With these works the artist put to use empty background to emphasise the beauty of the forms.
One of the ink paintings is titled ‘Saga of Mythical Heritage-75’, where a hand is entangled with an elephant trunk. The hand is also indicating a whistle located at the top.
Visual artist Zahangir Alom gives the viewers a glimpse into nature by choreography of colours and washes. His works evoke the ragas of Hindustani classical music and classical dance forms.
A watercolour series titled ‘Rain in the Spring’ shows flowers and nature in the spring drenched in the rain. It is unique the way the artist applied colours to achieve similar dampness in his works that harness the energy of nature, making the flowers, trees and leaves and the landscape into a fluid composition.
All his works bring forth a sense musicality by using intense colour and rhythm. The painting titled ‘The Essence of Gaudiya Nritya’, which shows various human figures performing the Gaudiya Nritya, is no exception.
The exhibition will remain open till March 8.

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