Dhaka dying art scene revisited
It's a riot of colour, the walls are filled with garish paintings and faux fine art. There is the 'Last Supper' scene of Leonardo da Vinci, but the characters have familiar faces of the local artists. On one wall Wonder Woman shoots up in the air, flanked by Superman, both with the faces of an artist couple. The walls, ceiling and pillars, even the floor, are replete with such offbeat representation of Bangladesh's dying rickshaw art and cinema publicity paintings.
This is 'Rongbaaj', the latest exhibition of the artists' group Britto. The exhibition, held in Britto's art hub on Green Road in Dhaka, is a representation of contemporary urban art, both commercial and of the more refined genre.
Artist Tayeba Begum Lipi explains, "This particular exhibition represents an alternative art practice. Including 'mainstream' artists we have Mohammed Hanif Pappu, a film publicity painter and Tapan Das, a rickshaw painter. We have pooled out talents and have come up with this display to promote the dying commercial art.
The artists who have also put their palettes and paintbrushes into the efforts are Mahbubur Rahman, Tayeba Begum Lipi, Aminul Islam Ashik, Lutfun Nahar, Shimul Datta, Shimul Saha and Yasmin Jahan Nupur.
There is a statement of the global power play too, up there on the ceiling. Trump and other world leaders gaze down at the viewers, perhaps reiterating that they are on the 'top of the world' when it comes to power politics!
In keeping with the filmy themes, but adding an international touch, there is Marilyn Monroe in a bright yellow dress and her iconic pose of holding down her billowing skirt. Bangladesh's pop idol Guru Azam Khan is prominently on display in a psychedelic burst of fiery orange and yellow, flanked by the Beatles and Michael Jackson.
The film 'Rongbaaj' also finds place in the exhibition 'Rongbaaj', appropriately highlighting A bottle of whiskey in Razzak's hand, a pink and pretty Kabori with her charming smile, the even-anxious Rozy Samad and more a bit of movie nostalgia for those of that generation.
The very transient nature of the exhibition is interesting. After all, the murals are painted directly on the wall and will eventually be scrapped away for the next exhibition.
Viewers who wanted to take away a bit of art with them could buy some of the trinkets on display -- a teapot painted with a rickshaw design, or a frying pan with the face of a film star or a tin box with a winged half-human half-horse figure and more. Fantasy and a fun way to give the urbanites a dose of an artistic collage.