Shedding the spotlight on the art of planography in printmaking, Cosmos Atelier71's unique printmaking workshop titled 'On the Trail of Planography' by art maestro Sheikh Mohammad Rokonuzzaman was held from Friday, May 10 to Monday, May 13 at Cosmos Centre, Malibagh in the capital.

Inaugurated by renowned Bangladeshi entrepreneur, author, journalist and patron of the arts Enayetullah Khan, Founder of Gallery Cosmos, Cosmos Atelier71 and Cosmos Group; Tehmina Enayet, Director of Gallery Cosmos and Cosmos Atelier71; and Nahar Khan, Executive Director of Gallery Cosmos and Cosmos Atelier71, the four-day exclusive planography workshop featured eleven artists from diverse backgrounds: Abu Kalam Shamsuddin, Boni Adam, Chitram Sen Anik, Iqbal Bahar Chy, K Zaman Shimul, Kamruzzoha, Palash Baran Biswas, Rezwanur Rahman, Rumana Rahman Rani, Salma Zakia Bristy and Sohanur Rahman. Besides, eminent artist Rokeya Sultana, legendary photographer-artist Nasir Ali Mamun, and art educator Ashmita Alam, Chairman of the Department of Printmaking, Faculty of Fine Art at Dhaka University, participated in the workshop as guest artists.

"Gallery Cosmos and Cosmos Atelier-71 was established through the cordial guidance of our alluvial printmaker, late Kalidas Karmakar - and ever since its inception, we have patronized many great artists, workshops, exhibitions and art events, such as 'Art Against Fake News' (2019) and more. We will continue supporting our talented art community through organizing meaningful events, publishing resourceful books and hosting enlightening workshops like this," Enayetullah Khan said at the event.

The workshop greeted several popular and eminent artists including freedom fighters Biren Shome and Professor Syed Abul Barq Alvi, internationally acclaimed art maestro Professor Rokeya Sultana, legendary photojournalist-artist Nasir Ali Mamun and Dhaka University Chairman of the Department of Printmaking, Faculty of Fine Arts Ashmita Alam, among others.

Under the cordial and insightful guidance of the workshop conductor Sheikh Mohammad Rokonuzzaman, former Chairman of the Department of Printmaking, Faculty of Fine Arts at Dhaka University, the workshop put spotlight on lithography under planographic printmaking, a unique technique in the vast world of printmaking, invented in 1798.

Regarding the noteworthy initiative, Tehmina Enayet, Director of Cosmos Atelier71 and Gallery Cosmos, said: "This was a tremendous experience for us to host this unique planography workshop conducted by Professor Rokonuzzaman. Every year, we host multiple art workshops with prominent Bangladeshi artists such as Professor Rokeya Sultana, Professor Anisuzzaman, and others; and many aspiring artists and art educators work regularly in our Cosmos Atelier71, founded under the cordial guidance of the late great Bangladeshi printmaker Kalidas Karmakar."

"Besides hosting art events such as workshops and exhibitions - we also initiate exchange programs with renowned foreign artists, because our focus is to highlight our country's glorious art scene and talented artists to the world. After every workshop, we host exhibitions where we invite art admirers and collectors, and promote the artists by showcasing their magnificent works. This planography workshop by Professor Rokonuzzaman was enlightening for all of us," Tehmina Enayet said.

"Through this four-day workshop, we celebrated one of the difficult but interesting parts of printmaking called Planography, through the informative and well-curated artistic narrative and techniques of the seasoned artist-educator Sheikh Mohammad Rokonuzzaman. As one of his proud mentors, this is a matter of pride for me that he is sharing his knowledge among these enthusiastic participants, courtesy of Gallery Cosmos and Cosmos Atelier-71," pioneering Bangladeshi artist Rokeya Sultana said regarding the workshop.

Expressing his heartfelt gratitude to Gallery Cosmos for organizing this engaging workshop on planography, Sheikh Mohammad Rokonuzzaman told Dhaka Courier that this initiative by Gallery Cosmos will inspire others to learn more about this unique medium of printmaking.

"The history of Lithography, a planographic printmaking process, dates back to 1798 - and from then to the current day, the world of art has explored revolutionary changes. As an artist and art educator, my artistic aim is to familiarize this particular medium not only to the students but also to the public and general admirers; however, this is understandably a bit complex process and requires several additional art equipment, and not only Gallery Cosmos has provided all the required support and elements but also helped us to spread the medium through this workshop, joined by participants from diverse backgrounds."

"In this collaborative workshop featuring participants from different universities and artistic backgrounds, we tried to explore and practice several techniques of lithography and planography together, throughout these four days. As an enthusiastic learner and researcher, I have been working in this field for years; however, in this workshop, I focused on sharing my knowledge not as a faculty member but as a learner myself, while experimenting beyond the theories along with the participants, and they have made this collaborative process successful in my opinion," Sheikh Mohammad Rokonuzzaman told DC.

That was echoed by the workshop participants as well, as Palash Baran Biswas, one of the participants and Associate Professor of the Printmaking Discipline at Khulna University, said: "Although I have done lithographic work in the past, the amazing thing that we discovered in this workshop was how Professor Rokonuzzaman, by sharing his lifelong experience of mastering this still-feared technical medium, has made lithography simple and clear for us. The fact that we collaborated with painters and artists from other fields throughout our time here is also noteworthy and always provides an excellent learning experience."

Another participant, freelance artist Rumana Rahman Rani said: "Lithography in printmaking is one of my favourite areas of interest that I aspired to explore more, and whenever I got to know that Professor Rokonuzzaman would be conducting the workshop - I immediately expressed my interest to Gallery Cosmos that I want to join the workshop. Not only did Rokonuzzaman Sir guide and assist us properly - but also shared the history and important techniques behind this important medium - furthermore, the presence of other legendary artists and maestros such as Professor Rokeya Sultana, inspired us throughout the workshop. This will remain as a lifetime experience for me."

Gallery Cosmos Artistic Director Sourav Chowdhury said: "As an artist, I also learned many things about lithography and planographic printmaking these four days, and our Director Tehmina Enayet also joined us every day throughout the workshop. The participants have requested to host more workshops on this medium in the future, and we can assure everyone that this is just the beginning."

Currently a Professor of Printmaking at DU's Faculty of Fine Arts, Sheikh Mohammad Rokonuzzaman was born in Dhaka in 1976. After completing his BFA from the Institute of Fine Arts' Department of Printmaking, Dhaka University in 1998 (held in 2001), he received a Master's degree in printmaking from Visva Bharati, Santiniketan, India in 2004 under the ICCR Scholarship by the Indian Government. He continued his artistic research at Tokyo University of Fine Art, Japan (2010 to 2012) under the Monbukagakusho Research Scholarship, courtesy of the Japanese Government, and completed his PhD from Dhaka University in 2017.

Sheikh Mohammad Rokonuzzaman's 1st Solo Exhibition was held at the Zainul Gallery, Dhaka University in 2005. Before that, his 1st open studio exhibition was held at Nandan Gallery (M.F.A Submission), Visva Bharati, Santiniketan, India, in 2004 - and his 2nd open studio exhibition was held at Gedai Gallery (Research Submission), Tokyo University of The Fine Art, Japan in 2012.

Notable among the artist's awards are the Diploma (3rd place) in the category "Small format graphics" in The First International Small Form Graphic Trienale and Exucubris, Planet for All, Ukraine, 2022; Honorable Award in International Art Fest 2021-22, (Microtopia), Bangladesh, arranged by Chittagong Art Club and Gallery Chitrak; E- Certificate Award Winner, GAWA Annual International Watercolor Online Contest-2019; Elizabeth Greenshields Award, Canada-2009, Best Award in Printmaking at the 16th (2008) and 15th (2004) Young Artists Art Exhibition, Organized by Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy, and Best Award in Printmaking in Annual Art Exhibition, Institute of Fine Arts, Dhaka University (1998).

In his illustrious career, Sheikh Mohammad Rokonuzzaman has participated in numerous national and international exhibitions at home and abroad, including Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy (BSA)'s Young Artists Art Exhibition, National Art Exhibition, Asian Art Biennale; and many other exhibitions in Japan, India, Ukraine, Serbia, Taiwan, and Australia, to name a few. From 2019-2022, he acted as the Chairman of the Department of Printmaking. Faculty of Fine Arts at Dhaka University.

The workshop continued every day from 10 am to 5 pm and concluded on May 13. The artworks from this workshop will be displayed in a future exhibition.

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