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Friday, April 10, 2009

Masuma’s mysticism

By Saad A Khan

Dhaka, Friday, April 10, 2009

Masuma Khan's works evoke optimism through the subtle caressing of her brush. The colours she uses are drawn from the lush green of vines, periwinkles and ripe fruits. She splays them in her frame that creates a world in itself, which takes the viewer back to the vibrancy of our culture.

At her ongoing 13th solo exhibition, at Alliance Française de Dhaka, she has decided to showcase both acrylic and water colour. While the former brings a bright and glossy facade to her art, accentuating the passion and fruitfulness of lavender and orchid, the latter gives a translucent quality that evokes a sense of belonging and peace through the azure skies and alpine rivers. She has blended the two techniques to present the anxieties of women, solitude of a naive pigeon, warmth of nature and the longing of a lover. In short, her dreams, visions and hopes, pull the viewer within the mystical periphery of her paintings.When asked how she chooses the colours for her work or decide the positioning of subject, she mischievously adds that it has grown into a habit. She closes her eyes before she starts and immerses in her multihued whirlpool of thoughts, this is later envisaged on her canvas -- very much like a wizard who, in magical tales works wonders with a wand, except in this case, the wand gets replaced by Khan's prodigious brush. 

Khan recalls that the idea of the exhibition first hit her when she was doing her Bachelor's at Charukala (Faculty of Fine Arts, Dhaka University). She decided to hold an exhibition that would evoke nostalgia. A case in point is her painting 'Vandarkadi' (her village) where the cotton touches of turquoise and canary mesmerise viewers, a pigeon brooding in quiet greenery, symbolising the current disconnected peace. Golden fish shimmer through the aqua blue vibe of the art piece 'Water' and the flamboyant Phalgun is personified as a gorgeous woman, with dark eyelashes. Khan does not fail to depict an individualistic feature in every work: a chink of hope, a theme she has successfully captured in this exhibition. 

She blends abstract with reality and creates illusion. Be it the yellow ochre slender arms of a virgin, merging with the omnipresent tranquillity of nature behind, or the cobalt bark of the tree with the vapid worry of the women in 'Worried Women,' Khan holds the viewer in her grip. The essence of hope never eludes her work. Hope is there through her brushstrokes that outline a lover's eyes. The viewer sees hope through Khan's eyes, and feels at peace too. 

The exhibition ends on April 17.

The writer is a freelance contributor


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