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Dhaka Tribune

I am of you, for you: artist Shahid Kabir

Update : 28 Mar 2014, 06:39 PM

His paintings delve deep into the stories of “our” common people who are daily wage earners and are born to struggle. But the artworks do not struggle to prove that Shahid Kabir, who spent a remarkable time of his artistic career in Spain, is one of us. On the note of his ongoing solo exhibition titled I bow my head to you in deep obeisance at the Bengal Shilpalaya, the insightful artist explained his attachment to the marginalised people with the headline: I am of you, for you. 

Faces of underprivileged people, beauty of struggling women, objects from the daily life of ordinary people are the subjects of Kabir who is hailed from a well-off family but never hesitated to embrace the people who go through untold sufferings to manage their basic needs. The colours he uses in most of his paintings reflect the soil and landscape of his homeland.  

“These images are expressions of my real life experiences. I personally encountered most of the figures on the canvases. Later, I painted them with my deep empathy and profound intuition,” said the passionate artist.

The work titled “Where is my Medicine?- Sobhan Chacha, helpless old man from Banari Para,” depicts a fierce yet helpless looking old man. “I met him when I visited my birth place Banari Para in Barisal. On the first moment of the meeting, he asked for his medicine. That moment was captured in my head as a picture and later I painted the memory,” said the empathetic painter.

The incomparable beauty of Bangladeshi women from rural and underprivileged settings has been portrayed with unmatched compassion and depth in Kabir’s canvases. Some of such paintings are Alta Sundori, Slum Queen 1 and 2, and Drying Her Only Saree which are the most dazzling gems of the exhibition. 

A great deal of Kabir’s philosophy is inspired by the great mystic bard of Bengal, Lalon. During the decade of ‘70s he painted a number works with the philosophy of Lalon and those were exhibited in 1980. In those images he experimented with forms in order to divide the physical space of his canvas into various compartments and placed Lalon in suggestive locations. In the current exhibition, he copied the only sketch of Lalon’s figure with mixed medium. Kabir said: “My understanding of Lalon has been evolved from what I used to feel about him during my youth. Sometimes I surrender and sometimes I even challenge his philosophy.”

Some of the large-scale works featured in the Bengal Gallery exhibition takes the audience by surprise.  The exhibition will conclude on April 1.   

Shahid Kabir, went on his own to the land of Pablo Picasso, to paint as the French Impressionists did, especially Vincent Van Gogh, who painted with his whole mind and heart, he loves Gauguin, Pissaro and the rest. He began as a print-maker in Europe, and now, he is a master painter of nature and man.

The paintings at the exhibition are outputs of six-years of painstaking work. “I worked seven hours almost every day during these six years.” About his unique style of painting, he said:  “When I paint, I simply submerge into the work. I do not know what it is looking like. After finishing it, I look at it from a distance to speculate.”

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