Showcasing magnificent woodcut on paper, the oldest form of printmaking, by young artist Abdullah Al Bashir, a solo exhibition titled 'Evolution' was inaugurated at La Galerie, Alliance Française de Dhaka (AFD) in the capital's Dhanmondi on Friday.

The exhibition is displaying more than 30 of Bashir's exclusive artworks, based on his experience of exploring the ship-breaking process in Khulna and the environmental risks it poses in the country.

Dhaka University pro-vice-chancellor (academic) Prof Dr ASM Maksud Kamal inaugurated the exhibition, while eminent artists Prof Syed Abul Barq Alvi and Prof Anisuzzaman Anis from Department of Printmaking, Faculty of Fine Arts at Dhaka University, chairman of Radiant Pharmaceuticals Limited Md Nasser Shahrear Zahedee and AFD director François Grosjean joined the inaugural ceremony of the exhibition as special guests.

Praising Bashir's dedication to his craft, Prof Syed Abul Barq Alvi said, "I have always seen him busy with his work as a student of the Department of Printmaking at DU's Faculty of Fine Arts. I have always noticed his special attraction towards woodcut and watercolour. He created a lot of work in these two media, based on his surroundings, nature, everyday life, and his work reflects his deep observation of things around him which all of us are amazed by."

Abdullah Al Bashir secured first class in both his BFA in 2009 and MFA in 2010 from the Department of Printmaking. He then went to Yunnan Arts University in China for higher education with a scholarship, where he received the 'All Media Best Award' for his woodcut print in 2020. During his academic life, he achieved five scholarships.

"After graduating from China, he suddenly moved to Bandarban, Rangamati, and remote areas, and worked there for a long time. In every work, detailing and use of colours are characteristic. His maturity in terms of colours is unmatched, I don't see sudden use of colour in his work. I take a lot of pride as a teacher to see my students, such as Bashir, who are still working in woodcuts," Prof Anisuzzaman said at the event.

Bashir has showcased brilliance in printmaking through not-often seen methods including relief, intaglio, and lithography, along with popular mediums such as woodcut, watercolour, etching, and drawing.

Bashir's hyper-realistic watercolour and his unique attraction towards woodcuts is notable. He has worked on huge woodcut blocks on multiple plates which are complicated yet unique techniques.

"I observed the process of ship-breaking and its environmental impact in Khulna, and from that artistic liability, I produced this series of works," Bashir told UNB. "I spent my childhood years at Shekhpara, Khulna. The place was surrounded by the sound of iron mills, labourers, abandoned iron pieces and abandoned ships at the shipyard, and I always tried to include these in my works and also explore the light and shade, as I wanted to expose the light and the darkness of our society."

"I have allegorically used 'ship' in my artwork series, through which I have tried to depict the universe, state, society and my own self which collapsed and is now fixed. The ship carries profound opportunities or dreams and hopes for the future. The ship will, one day, be functioning under the direction of an appropriate leadership or captaincy and take an appropriate course of action to keep things in balance," Bashir explained his artistic vision.

Abdullah Al Bashir's first solo exhibition, titled "Viewing Depth", was held in 2011 at Zainul Gallery, Dhaka University.

The AFD exhibition will remain open to visitors till December 14, Monday to Saturday, from 3 pm to 9 pm.

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