As a self-taught artist Akter Mahamud Kajal’s repertory consists of everything from scenes of liberation war to pastoral scenes. In the statement he penned for the catalogue, the artist admits his debt to the landscape artists of Europe and America.
His solo exhibition at Gallery-6, National Art Gallery of Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy is testimony to his struggle to assimilate the romantic genre and give it a local context.
Thus the scenic beauty of Bangladesh in his first solo painting exhibition dovetails the romantic attitude with the popular form of practice of Bangladesh.
‘I wanted to portray the brutalities by the Pakistani Occupation Forces during the Liberation War and the contribution of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in our independence. I also portrayed my loving memories while travelling across the Bangladesh, he said, adding that he painted the exhibited works in the last three and half years.
The ten-day exhibition titled ‘Independent War and Nature’ features a total of 102 oil paintings.
The paintings address issues like historic speech on March 7, 1971 by the country’s founding president, Operation Searchlight night on March 25, 1971 in Dhaka, brutalities by Pakistani forces, genocide by the Pakistan army, atrocities on women and rural defence, lifestyles of village people, plights of the marginalised in rural area, scenic beauty of rural Bengal, rural children, riverine life and bathing women, seasons, slum people’s struggle, hilly areas, inland, cowboys, how the village turn into city, etcetera.
The International Crimes Tribunal chief prosecutor Golam Arif Tipu inaugurated the exhibition as chief guest on March 2 in the presence of acclaimed artist professor Samarjit Roy Chowdhury and BSA director general Liaquat Ali Lucky.
To mention a few works, there is an entire series that explored the torture centres that sprang up around the country.
They show how the Pakistani forces tortured the Bengalis, mostly women in their tortured camp. Some people are shown tied with rope and being tortured, women were being tortured, disrobed and raped.
In one particular image, a Pakistani military sets out to kill a child and her mother who is screaming and crying to save her child from the monster.
These works remind one of the rickshaw and auto-rickshaw paintings of the post-independent Dhaka.
If the above works are panoramic, it is the historic March 7 address of the founding president Sheikh Mujibur Rahman that shows the portrait of the leader in isolation. Though, Mujib is giving the historic speech at the Race Course Ground now (Suhrawardy Udyan) on March 7, 1971, in this work.
A painting titled ‘Atrocities on Women and Rural Defence’ shows how the village people defended the marauding Pakistani army while they carried out violence against women in the rural areas.
The artist also want to give the viewers a glimpse into the plight of the marginalised people in rural Bengal, besides emphasising the scenic beauty of the country.
A work ‘Women Husking Paddy’ shows women husking paddy in front of a house, at the left corner of the painting a woman is shown cooking food while her two children are shown standing beside her next to the tethered domestic animals in the yard.
A work titled ‘Rural Children Ecstasy’ shows the children are taking bath at a canal and playing with waters with their fellows in the rain. The background and both sides of the canal are surrounded by greenery while another titled ‘A Rural Pottery Industry’ shows man and women making different shapes of pottery in their yard. The background shows the cottages and greenery.
A series of work portrays women taking bath wearing water-soaked saris. These are works that sensually depicted both bathing woman and the pristine nature that surround them in the rural settings.
On the paintings of the series titled ‘Rural Women Taking Bath in Streams, River-3’ shows three women. One is in the river taking bath and another is coming to the bank of the river while on the left, a woman is drying her drenched body and hair while standing on the bank of the river.
The exhibition will remain open till March 11.
Want stories like this in your inbox?
Sign up to exclusive daily email
More Stories from Exhibition