Renowned artist and dean of the Faculty of Fine Arts, University of Dhaka, Professor Nisar Hossain's retrospective exhibition has begun at Gallery Chitrak in Dhanmondi.
The exhibition features a total of 80 artworks that have been created by Nisar over the last two decades.
Throughout his life, Nisar has depicted the horrors and pains that exist in society and in our lives. The artist has painted his thoughts and perspectives by using vibrant colours, figures, lines and different materials on canvas.
The displayed mixed-medium artworks are also reflections of his thoughts and reactions to different social issues that have made Nisar tremble, emotional and dejected.
The exhibition will remain open for all till March 19.
Among the displayed works, TBS has picked four artworks that will captivate visitors.
1. Oppressed 71
In 1999, Nisar Hossain used mixed-medium on board to depict the sufferings of rape victims during the Liberation War of Bangladesh in 1971.
Shades of greens and reds stand out in the artwork. Distorted, grim faces allusively represent oppressed women during the war.
Speaking to The Business Standard about the making of this artwork, Nisar said, "This is an old painting. I used the colours of our national flag in this painting. To me, the colour red is a symbol of the bloodshed during the Liberation War. Previously, I worked on women who were oppressed in 1971 and the material used itself is oppressed in essence, which is why I used an old broken board."
"I didn't use any brushes while painting it. Instead, I used my fingers to bring out the texture in the artwork," the artist added.
2. Diary of Hell-1
This is one of the larger canvases on display at the exhibition. The big red canvas will overwhelm the visitors of the exhibition. This painting symbolizes Nisar's thoughts.
Done with acrylic on canvas, this 84"x240" painting was completed in 2013. Nisar was going through turmoil due to social unrest taking place in the country back then.
Red dominates the canvas as a representation of the wrath of hellfire. Various figures, lines and faces of creatures are present in the painting which symbolises the chaos of society.
Talking about the painting, Nisar told The Business Standard that he always wanted to see if the size of his paintings has any impact on the visitors. But he has not found any convincing responses so far.
"I personally believe that when I sit by a pond, that feeling is different compared to the emotions we feel when we go to the ocean. The relation is with water but the size of the medium makes us feel different," the artist explained.
He added, "The subject of the painting represents a chaotic situation, therefore, in the composition, I wanted to highlight that chaotic state of the society which is why the canvas is so huge."
When Nisar drew this painting, the atrocity of our society, especially the politics surrounding Limon's accident and fire outbreaks in garment factories, bothered him.
"I felt so helpless around that time and I tried to represent the violence in our society through the fire and descriptions of hell on canvas," he explained, adding, "Through tigers, I tried to portray the atrocity of any creature, including human beings."
3. Towards annihilation
Nisar used lines and dark colours to draw beasts in his recent painting. Done with acrylic on canvas, the huge painting on display will remind the visitors of the environmental pollution in our country.
"I create paintings to express my pain and sorrows on canvas," said Nisar. "This artwork is part of the series and I did this artwork for two reasons: to represent the realisations during the shutdown and the effect of the power plant in Sundarban."
Nisar said that he used gloomy and grey-toned colours to remind us of how we have destroyed the environment. The colour black represents coal. He wanted to use coal for the painting in the beginning but it was harmful to his health.
Explaining further, Nisar said, "There is no green or tree in the painting because it metaphorically reflects the wasteland we are eventually heading towards."
4. Killer in the garden
Nisar Hossain's works are not separate from his understanding of the world, society, politics and culture.
At first glance, the displayed work will create a happy feeling in the minds' of the visitors for its bright vibrant colours. However, "Killer in the Garden" is very expressive and depicts the hidden monsters of the society through the almost-invisible animal of the painting.
This 2006 painting is mixed-medium on board. "I used traceable lines to draw the animal in this painting and the beast represents the actual beasts and their violent nature that exists among us," said Nisar.