An exhibition focusing on the freedom struggles of Bangladesh by Paris-based Bangladeshi artist Shahabuddin Ahmed will be exhibited at the Rashtrapati Bhavan Museum in New Delhi.
Titled “Shanti”, the show that beginning on February 18, is featuring 12 large-size paintings including portraits of some of the iconic freedom fighters like Mahatma Gandhi, Rabindranath Tagore and the founding leader of Bangladesh, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, who played a vital role in India’s struggle for freedom and the Bangladesh Liberation War(1971) that followed.
The artist, who himself fought for Bangladesh’s independence alongside Rahman as a ‘Platoon Commander’, has combined the greatness of the political leaders with the struggles of the masses in vibrant hues of whites and blues, evoking a sense of empathy among viewers.
“The experience of war has guided my path, but contrary to what many believe, I don’t paint war and it is in no way my creed. What I want to depict is the human suffering in defiant postures, borderline situations along which an individual reaches his limits.
“The cracked attires of my characters, that some consider to be the reflection of the ‘freedom fighter’ or the athlete, is nothing more than the manifestation of the state of one’s suffering,” says Ahmed.
The 67-year-old artist, says India is close to his heart and people like Gandhi, Tagore and Mother Teresa have been a great source of inspiration for him.
“India has never been far away from my heart and I have had influence of some of the luminaries from this land in my life,” he says.
Globally acclaimed for his artistic journey, Ahmed who was born in Dhaka, displayed the collection of paintings at the Ganges Art Gallery in Kolkata in December 2015.
President Pranab Mukherjee who inaugurated his show then invited him to be a resident-artist at the Rashtrapati Bhavan and display his art works for public viewing.
“Shahabuddin’s art works display a very strong link not only between India and Bangladesh but also serve as a bridge to the western world. When the President inaugurated his show in Kolkata, he hoped these works could be shown in Delhi and other parts of the country as well,” says Smita Bajoria of Ganges Art Gallery, who has also curated the exhibition.
Ahmed has been the recipient of the ‘Fifty Master Painters of Contemporary Arts’ in 1992 at the Olympiad of Arts, Barcelona, besides being awarded the ‘Ordre des Arts et des Lettres’ in 2014 for his contribution to Art in France as well as the rest of the world.
The exhibition is set to continue till February 22.
Shahabuddin Ahmed says about his art: “The experience of war has guided my path, but contrary to what many believe, I don’t paint war and war is in no way my creed. What I want to depict is the human suffering in defiant postures, borderline situations, in which the individual has to reach his limits.”
Gerard Xuriguera, a prominent art critic said about Shahabuddin’s work: “Shahabuddin, before settling in Paris, experienced a threatened identity, in Bangladesh that he vigorously liberated in 1971. This period of his life, both dramatic and full of hope, has undoubtedly affected his artistic path and forged his character.”