A brave experimentalist who pushes viewers to think
Hira Sobahan's miniature show opens today at Alliance Francaise
Published : Friday, 12 July, 2019 at 12:00 AM Count : 156
Professor Dr Hira Sobahan was a familiar figure in the Dhaka Art Circuit of the late '90s when he worked for the Bangladesh Television. But he regularly exhibited his works at different galleries in the city. In that period he excelled in printmaking and established a personal trademark through his pure abstract and semi-abstract works. He acquired some unique techniques in printmaking in that momentous period. He engaged himself as an experimental printmaker and his themes ranges from nature to the socio-economic and political structure of the country.
From the commencement, Hira has adored the creation of something refreshing and innovative, which is very close to his living place and its surrounding ambiances. As he is an intense onlooker, nature and its varied mysterious chapters, the changing human life, frustrations and despairs of urban and rural life, disadvantaged and deprived people of the society, common people and their way of life have been immensely etched in his softened mind. All these topics are emblematically used in his works. Sometimes in his earlier works, figures were missing and different kinds of forms, varied symbolic allegories; oval, unstructured and vague forms, triangular- rectangular shapes as well as unrefined lines have been imprinted on his works. Geometric structures and architectural views give a new perspective to his works. Sometimes adjoining columns, slabs, ruined walls and scattered papers are recurring objects in his works. He has also drawn inspiration from nature and its various manifestations. A number of times, bold and subdued hues, constructed and deconstructed forms have defined the highly abstract works of the artist. As an abstract expressionist (a number of times when he has occupied himself with pure forms and compositions), Hira concentrates on untainted forms and opuses where red, pale yellow, black, white and soothing sapphire.
Hira Sobahan's miniature paintings (mixed media) hit me like waves of power, truth and revelation. He paints times, political and social turmoil metaphorically and also harsh realities of the society. He has an excellent power to minimise the amorphous forms and shapes and has added an aesthetically balanced appearance. His manipulation of forms, scattered muted drawings and cognizant using of colour create a language simultaneously natural and contrived. His palette swings between mellow and bold, strokes between rugged and controlled conjuring up a visual playground for joy and ecstasy. His paintings are of inner and outer space which help the viewers to intuit a complex reality that cannot be put into words. Presently his modes of expression are pure abstraction and abstract expressionism. He frequently changes the arrangement of his forms and compositions as well as the overall structure of his paintings.
Hira Sobahan builds up his lines, forms and compositions in an individual mode. He also frequently searches the boundaries of expressions with scribbles, lines, arrows, broken lines, loops and curls, squares, semi-oval and other forms. He has meticulously gone through various phases of experimentation with colours, textures, lines, and tones. For him, media is very significant in his mode of expression. He likes to experiment with different mediums. The artist always feels that paintings are an appearance of the thoughts, the inner world and what literally makes the daily life of an artist. His works show the world the way he sees it, and manifest the essence of the things he has seen. His paintings are also mirror of his mind frame. His lines signify the modern mode of expression. Some of his paintings clearly highlight pure composition which conveys his fondness for shadowy lines and tiny forms.
Hira is a secular and socially conscious artist by nature. He always lends his thought for the commoners and portrays their sufferings, pains and agonies. He began his career as a semi-abstract painter. With the passage of time, he has refined himself. Consequently, new lines, forms and different types of objects have been added to his works. His recent works have completely transformed and opened a new window for the viewer. The changes are composition, technique and form oriented. The forms give a cerebral and contemplative look to his works. His works now are sparser. The use of line and object is minimal; colours are bold and bright. Tonal variations less noticeable at his works and he is continuously exploring the boundaries of expression with the varieties of familiar and unfamiliar forms, primitive motifs as well as numerous indigenous forms.
When Hira gets immersed with his paintings, he loses himself. He is recognised for nurturing enough gallantry to destroy his labourious productions if he finds them unsatisfactory and therefore to create a new pattern, as the world of painting surrounds him from all possible dimensions. He most certainly does not seem to relent and on the contrary cannot help but breathe life into each painting. In this very way Hira applies colours and creates forms, lines and compositions. He puts layers upon layers of paint (occasionally) and draws forms and objects continuously, until he feels that he has achieved what he has been striving for. The outcome is a contemplative, subtly balanced arrangement of colours and space that does not fail to draw an art enthusiast's eyes.
As an experimentalist, Hira is fond of discovering the characteristics of the materials. He makes the ground of a painting in a certain way. He applies colour directly, piling up both thick and thin layers according to the requirements on the paintings. Sometimes he etches the painting with different tools and nails for creating uneven surface and unshaped forms. Rough ground assists to absorb colour and helps to create desired texture. Then he applies colour and again engraves the ground for finding his right imagery. The layers provide a distinctive touch to Hira's work and he has always deeply concentrated on applying colours and using materials. Over the years, Hira has developed this technique, which is very expensive and time consuming, requiring immense effort and devotion.