Artist Jamal Ahmed’s solo show opens on November 26 at Galleri Kaya
Jamal Ahmed is an artist who is flamboyant, avid partygoer and ebullient. He has a strong voice and is full of bawdy jokes. An unpretentious hospitable person, the artist likes good food, quality whisky and company of pretty women. He always loves to be happy. I have known him since 2003/4. For some of his last exhibitions, I wrote in brochures and closely observed the paintings. He always tries to leave his individual hallmark in every medium of his creativities. This is possible due to his acute seriousness and honesty towards his works. A workaholic and captivating character, Jamal is always creating striking image with phenomenal elan.
The artworks of current exhibition have been produced this year during the coronavirus pandemic, when the artist stayed in quarentine like many others. The pendemic is going on in critical phases. During the time, Jamal has done many small-sized works in different mediums, and the art lovers can easily collect the works at an affordable price. He has also done large-sized paintings according to the demand of the protagonists’ of his canvas.
A man of uncompromising integrity in many respects, and an artist of genius who works at the most exacting standards, Jamal is a commanding figure of the time. Restless, unsure of himself, always alert to the gap between what one aims at and what one achieves, the artist has devoted his life to art, except for the periods reserved for his friends and for going abroad to recharge thinking processes and contemplations.
In his studio-cum-apartment at Elephant Road in the capital, Jamal always paints with his individual language and medium, documenting rural, urban and semi-urban locales and the people in them. Self-discipline, firmness of purpose, the taste for reality and a search for the truth behind it, and restlessness hint at the contradictions unnerving this renowned artist of so stern and so unbending a character. His sharp, witty sayings, though, sometimes hurt other people’s feelings and sensibilities.
Through an acute scrutiny of his current works for the exhibition, it has become clear to me that some of Jamal’s paintings are technique-based where application of colours and creation of tonal variations have been dealt with prudently. In a very few of his paintings, the artist has had an inclination towards semi-abstraction. Sometimes space with the figure and shadowy objects (very few) have also been intermingled. The artist learned every details of techniques from Japan where he received highter education in oil painting from 1982 to 1986. For this show, he occupied himself with techniques learnt from his professors and Japanese expatriates.
Over the years, Jamal has been successfully documenting Bengal's scenic beauty as well as nubile women in all their curvaceous beauty, gypsy women, oarsman, boatman, flood-affected people, bucolic panoramic view, riverine people, metropolis, bauls, mendicants, working class people and more. Pigeons, horses, fishermen, disadvantaged people and their daily chores are recurrent themes in his paintings.
Besides painting of the rural life and its people, Jamal is an accomplished portrait painter. Realism is his forte; his acrylic based paintings depict the exact quality of drapery or the skin tone of a man or woman. He has achieved mastery in capturing the quality of light and shade. For a long time, it has been clearly observed that his calm and deeply meditative landscape alludes to harmony in nature. He has portrayed the Cox’s Bazar sea beach and the poverty ridden people around the location, which come to his paintings from different angles. It has been clearly noticeable that the artist has an in-depth understanding of landscape. Some of his figural compositions convey a great sense of rapture.
Jamal’s work expresses the aesthetic beauty of our Bengali women and their varied moods. By means of his sweeping brush strokes and malleable textures, the canvas gets a vivacious and spirited look. His sketches are powerful in their tone of lines and serenity. The charcoal sketches, in particular, are very shiny and intriguing. His cherish study of human beings and nature permits him to get to the core of his theme.
Jamal’s works on canvas unveil the festivity of triumph and broad-spaced vision. He gets pleasure by painting what moves his creative soul and enables him to translate an individual language, colour and figurative expression. His themes are always upholding the greatness of life. In the process, the viewer also gets to know the artist’s individuality and mental state of that moment.
The writer is an art critic and cultural curator.