Artist Abdus Shakoor Shah is widely recognised for his folk motifs and ballads. His present solo exhibition breaks new ground in its technical and material aspects. The works seem more time consuming and technically phenomenal than ever before. Over a large span of his career, Shakoor has been working on folk motifs and ancient ballads. Folk ballads of Mymensingh-the famous Mahua and Malua love stories, Nakshi Kanthar Maath, Gazir Pata, Manasha Pata have found prominent places in his works.
The artist's solo exhibition, titled "Muse of Myths", begins today at Bengal Gallery of Fine Arts, Dhanmondi in the city. Veteran poet-novelist Syed Shamsul Haque and Ambassador of France to Bangladesh Aubert Sophie will jointly inaugurate the exhibition. The exhibition will feature over 50 artworks in different mediums including acrylic, drawing, watercolour and collage.
Shakoor's works predominantly use collages and he directly pastes pieces of colourful paper, saree, pieces of cloths on his canvas. These pieces give his works a more decorative quality. The canvas appears more vibrant and lively for its slightly cracked surface.
Over a large span of his career (from 1996), Shakoor has been working on folk motifs. The ballads of "Mymensingh Geetika" -- the famous Mahua and Malua love stories, "Nakshi Kanthar Maath", "Gazir Pat" and "Manasha Pat" are recurring themes in his works. Shakoor uses animal figures such as elephants, bulls, dogs, cats, tigers, parrots, peacocks, birds and serpents -- all as pleasant and decorative motifs.
"I try to present my country (and its folk elements) in my works," says Shakoor. Blue, black, yellow, white and crimson are used predominantly, giving a meditative approach to Shakoor's characters. The canvas' outlines are in black and white broad lines. The intense backgrounds give the viewers a romantic and imposing view. His ink drawings are done in contour, with a feeling of space on the background, which gives the composition a certain likeness to portraits.
Shakoor's paintings are not simple illustrations of the traditional ballads. He uses calligraphy stylistically on his canvas which sometimes includes human figures along with birds and animals. Each work depicts a complete story that highlights the Bengali identity. His works are closely related to local myths, beliefs and visions. The paintings are raw in nature and at the same time modern in their expressions.
Shakoor's works delineate various types of male and female figures. He tries to focus on the expressions of female faces, specially the eyes. Women's ornamentation is another trait in his works. "I concentrate on colours and keep the woman's simple appearance in mind. Texts for my paintings come from different ballads such as the 'Mahua' and 'Malua' stories. I have used traditional motifs such as alpana patterns and various types of animals. I have also used some geometrical shapes, for instance rectangles, straight lines and circular forms," said the veteran artist.
In his different series of works, one gets glimpses of dusky village women who adorn themselves with modest ornaments. In his paintings, females wear bright clothes and silver jewellery. His "Malua" series authentically represents the rustic lifestyle, bringing to his canvas a blend of emotions, hardship and conflict.
Abdus Shakoor has won many awards, which are proof enough of his formidable skills. He has participated in over 90 group exhibitions in places like USA, England, Poland, Argentina, Japan, France, China, Iran, Panama, Italy and India.
The exhibition will continue till October 29.