Kamruzzaman Sagar’s solo show opens tomorrow (Aug 11) at Galleri Kaya

Art and imagination are very close to each other. Imagination could be produced from many sources and is the ability that an artist has to form images or ideas in his mind of things that are new and exciting, or things that one has not experienced. Kamruzzaman Sagar's artworks accord us a contemplative glimpse into our own power of imagination. He portrays images that play in our subconscious minds and his lithos focus on imaginative expressions through the exploration of the unconscious mind. His images balance a rational vision of life with one that asserts the power of the unconscious. Dreams play an important in his works. Sagar is also very concerned about the harsh realities of urban life and the human civilization's overall vulnerability to climate change.

Sagar leads a very private life where he prefers to keep art confined mostly in his thinking processes. He has rarely participated in local art exhibitions, but his prints are frequently on display in many museums and galleries abroad. He is a very sincere and dutiful teacher at the Department of Printmaking, Faculty of Fine Arts, University of Dhaka. He has been trying to stay aloof from the politics of defamation at the institute, a scourge currently being very much observed. Sagar has had spent great times with two stalwarts of art---Safiuddin Ahmed and Mohammad Kibria. Their simplicity, down-to-earth nature, and wisdom of art really attracted him. They used to take a lot of time to deliver a comment on a single piece of art - an act that mesmerised Sagar.

Sagar had a great passion for looking after pet animals and pigeons in his childhood. He could easily understand their pulses and temperaments. He spent long times of his days taking care of them. Sagar lost his father in his childhood and his mother struggled a lot with the children. He has faced many a stark reality in his life. For this reason, his artworks have a great touch of melancholy and he chooses a certain language in order to explain the stories of his prints strongly. He has been consistently studying the movements of animals and humans, decayed forests and houses, flowering trees, varied structural and vague forms, birds of different species, and arrangements of realistic compositions. It has been clearly observed that Sagar has a great tendency towards experimentation. As a testament to this, he has been understood to focus on planets and other space forms as well as dotted and ambiguous forms. He is very cautious and purist about his prints and the printmaker frequently constructs an image and then deconstructs it, only to recreate it. He has enough courage to put up well-etched objects and figures and meticulously created motifs make most of his images memorable. It is obvious that his mode of expression has a great mingling of realism with surrealism where one gets a story of his thoughtful world.

Sagar's prints take us into a new-fangled and uncanny world and the subjects help us to ponder about one's individual perception. The objects of his prints have been fetched or taken from our known world, but the style of their presentations brings forth for us an unknown and mysterious world. Many of his prints delve deep into the complexities of human life and he has made a great attempt to blend surrealistic metaphors with realistic ambiance in his prints. All of his prints can be divided into several segments and each section features a picture that is dissimilar to the other.

Sagar's several images project the pandemic's destructions through a particular point of view - that of birds. Covid-19 and all other pandemics are usually related to human plights with little or no regard for the animal kingdom and nature. Judging from this perspective, the series of prints is pivotal and bold indeed. Birds are seen witnessing the devastation of human civilisation from the sidelines - with waters running out of their eyes. Some birds may themselves have perished due to these alleged "man-made crises" that are heating up Earth. Pictures in the series have their focal points at the center where fumes are seen going up in the sky apparently after a huge explosion. The blast is apparently distant enough from the outer suface of the artwork but some other bird-like figures are evidently shrieking away from the sudden disaster. Almost no other living being can be seen - leaving a sense of desolation and horror. Some strange debris is flying up in the sky and some of them may be feathers. The absence of colour makes the depiction all the more stimulating. The artist has deftly utilised the power of black-and-white to make the audience frown upon themselves for what they or their leaders have done to nature and civilisation. Peculiarly the two side stages hosting the onlooking birds have shades of red and blue - signalling the creatures' sadness and despair - feelings humans are falling short of.

Sagar's great concern about global warming and vulnerability to climate change has been reflected in some of his prints. He has curiously presented a harrowing scenario of loss and isolation in a rather serene and strangely solemn mood keeping up with his typical style. In the lithos, the land appears barren and the landscape desolate. Birds are discernible as only breathing beings. Towards the latter half of the land, there stands a wooden table with a basket made of straw underneath while one of the only two birds in the picture flies closely over. This portion appears to be in an altogether different segment and as a mockery to human habitation that has brought about this dire predicament to lives on earth. In the background of the prints, there is the predominance of a peculiar blue in two or more peculiar phases. The first one probably hints at sea levels surrounding all kinds of living beings and the latter overarching one almost certainly hints at an ominous looming future.

Besides being a good printmaker, Sagar is also a good craftsman. He has experimented with techniques and materials and brought them together into a happy concoction on paper. His prints appear neat and clean, unusual, and always keep away from any over-ornamentation. His lithos are laborious, exhilarating, and captivating.

The exhibition titled "79 Graphics", opens tomorrow (August 11) at Galleri Kaya in Uttara and will continue till August 25.

The writer is an art critic and cultural curator.

Leave a Comment

Recent Posts