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When canvas turns battlefield…

Ahmed Tahsin Shams reads a picturesque historical narrative of art-rebels in 1971

Published : Saturday, 24 December, 2016 at 12:00 AM Count : 200

"The struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting," the publisher Kamruzzaman Kajol cites Milan Kundera in the introduction of the book titled Bangladesher Swadhinota Sangrame Shilpisomaj (Artist Community in the Struggle of Bangladesh Liberation War) narrated by Biren Shome and published by Chandrabati Academy.  
Veteran artist Subalkumar Banik titled his preface as 'Chitrashilpi Jokhon Chitrajoddha' (When Canvas Turns Battlefield) as well as he mourns over not having any detail research work in the country on artists' contribution in the Liberation War of 1971. But Banik shows gratitude to Biren Shome for sharing his historical war-time narrative to the present generation and for Shome's massive art-struggle along with other the then artists which worked as colour-drops suffusing the whole canvas and giving birth to a new nation: Bangladesh.      
Indeed, first person narrative technique of Biren Shome makes the readers travel with him, and thereby each detailing, whether revolts or tortures, in the process of becoming Bangladesh, turns picturesque to the readers. The author of the book, Biren Shome, categorized his narration in the following segments: Bhasha Andolon Theke Shadhinota (From Language Movement to Liberation War), Ekatturey Pothe Prantore (In Streets, '71), Muktijudher Shilpi Somaj (Artist Community in '71), Ei Janoyar Der Hotta Korte Hobe (Kill These Bastards!), Ekatturey Bangladesher Shilpider Chitrapradarshoni (Art Exhibition of Bangladeshi Artist in 1971), ShonitoRekhay Orunodoy (The Rising Sun), Bangladesher Hridoy Hote (From Bangladesh, With Love)
Biren Shome designed his narrative with the Mass Revolt of '69 where artists of Bangladesh set out for a procession with posters. He also shares Mustafa Monwar's Banner Series which was exhibited in 1968 at Shahid Minar. Biren brushes on the page-canvas of his journey of being a refuge in Kolkata in April 1971. But the spirit of struggle to liberate the land was not diminished at all. On June 22-23, Bangladesh and Indian artists organized an event based on the freedom of Bangladesh in RabindraSadan, Kolkata.
Biren Shome's ample rebel-posters, for instance 'Use Bangladeshi Products, Avoid Pakistani Products', 'Mothers and Daughters of Bengal, All Are Freedom Fighters', and posters depicting the spirit of the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman with captions like "Freedom or else Death", "Sheikh Mujib's Trial: An Acid Test for World Conscience, The World Conscience Owes a Clear Answer", and many more are well-ornamented in the book.
The book then speaks of the days when Biren Shome, Abul Barok Alvi, Manjurul Hai designed the stage, as directed by renowned artist Hashem Khan, for the 6-point Movement.
The discussion session among artists, led by Quamrul Hassan, carries Biren's lucid narration of a deep history held after the Proclamation of Independence on March 7, 1971 by the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. The main topic of the discussion was to create mass awareness locally and internationally via monogram, poster, cartoon, leaflet, banner, illustration. And then the most famous tagline Kill These Bastards! (Ei Janowarder Hotta Korte Hobe) took birth.
The book also illustrates the artistic rebellion history, the struggle till 1971, exhibitions held in 1971 and the pivotal role of the then artists in creating mass awareness. Biren Shome finely turns into a storyteller holding his brushstrokes as mouthpiece, in 1971 and even now in the book.

Ahmed Tahsin Shams is with
The Daily Observer     








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