As a seasoned artist at 59 years old, Liakat Ali's motive is to pour in as much light, colour, vibrance and celebration into his paintings. Though abstract, his paintings have motifs of realism in them. One would find a face, a torso or a bust, a fruit, a real life object on the canvases, if you pay closer attention.
His 8th solo exhibition was recently held at Alliance Francaise de Dhaka's very own art gallery La Galerie, where visitors immersed in a curated collection of abstract art. Painted in oil and water colour, the unique qualities of the paintings express themselves through titles such as Agony of Love, Anchorite, Autumn Melody, Abstraction in the Abstraction, etc.
"The vibrancy of colours, my sense of courage and playing with colours lent the novelty factor to my art. I always look for new ways to convey my inner emotions through my paintings. Light, to me, is more important than the dark. The dark assists my work but the dancing and flattering motions of light have always influenced me and my art," Liakat said, explaining the rationale behind the use of gleaming colours.
"The combination of such colours almost resembles a musical performance. It sways me and I have fun painting. I want my audience to feel a rhythm, a pattern through the abstractness of this series," he added. This notion is also where the namesake of this series comes from: Rhythmic Abstraction.
While he studied Chemistry in Rajshahi University, Liakat enrolled himself in Khulna Art College at around the same time because of his love for colours and painting. His academia in art led him to China, where he studied the subject further, then to Canada, finally settling in 1997 in Japan with his artist wife, Setsuko Liakat.
Although the majority of the exhibits at La Galerie were done in oil paint, Liakat says he is known more as a watercolour painter.
"I am more confident with this medium. I splash watercolour on the canvas and sometimes I crash them into each other, creating a palette of unknown new colours. I am just not scared by where it leads me to."
Three of his paintings have been sold through this exhibition, all of which are oil paintings. 'Musical Abstraction' sold for Tk1.5 lakh. 'Abstraction in the Abstraction - 5' and 'Melody of Life' sold for Tk2.5 lakh each.
"Those that buy paintings are mostly collectors and they would pay a pretty penny to have the painting or any other artwork in their collection. This is also a way to show an artist appreciation," Liakat said.
This painting is about a couple who visit a sea beach and spend an entire day there. The dominant presence of yellow in the painting portrays the richness of life and love. They stay there the length of the day to celebrate their own love and youth, to celebrate how unique they think their love is. They have watermelon there, as shown in the painting. The beach also portrays the vastness and freedom that this young couple is enjoying at every second of their stay there.
As the term suggests, the sculptor in this painting is making her own sculpture and is also 'felicitating' herself on her creation and the beauty of creation in general. This is about a painter (Liakat) painting a sculptor, who is yet another creator like himself, where she (the sculptor) is congratulating herself on how well the sculpture is turning out to be. As she sculpts a human form in her own image, the gradually emerging self image gives her a sense of accomplishment and a way to love herself.
Whoever has an idea what a sphinx is would be able to grasp what is being said through this painting, in their own way of course. A sphinx is a mythical creature with the head of a human, body of a lion and wings of a falcon. On top of being abstract, placing a mythical creature in a painting only adds to the abstractness of it and thus the name Mesmerising. But at the core of Liakat's painting is this: joie de vivre (pardon my French).