Bengal Foundation is honouring recently-deceased Murtaja Baseer’s legacy.
The exhibition "Baseer: An Eloquent Mind" is being held at the Quamrul Hassan Exhibition Gallery of Bengal Shilpalay in Dhanmondi, Dhaka.
Organised by Bengal Foundation, the exhibition started from October 12, featuring the life-long work of Murtaja Baseer, one of the county's most prominent artists.
As a cautionary measure for the ongoing pandemic, the exhibition authority does not allow more than ten people at once.
The exhibition will remain open to all till January 16, 2021 and can be visited six days a week from 3pm to 8pm. It is closed on Sundays.
Murtaja Baseer (1932-2020) is a renowned painter.
His versatile presence in art and aesthetics includes: painting, poetry, novel, cinema and photography.
Being one of the most admired artists of Bangladesh, Baseer, actually had a transformation in picking up his unique individual style; an amalgamation of realism and abstract art, hence, the term "abstract realism".
He had influences of both Renaissance and Indian painters as well as that of Picasso, his lifelong idol.
With this exhibition, Bengal Foundation actually wants to portray the artist's versatile inquisitiveness and his life-long dedication to art and culture.
The whole exhibition premise is, therefore, working as a collage of Baseer's life.
Every painting and artefact is accompanied by a QR code. Upon scanning, you will see its description, a timely addition to digitalisation.
The Business Standard picked four paintings of Murtaja Baseer from the exhibition.
His works reflect subtle yet mysterious and gradual transition of colours and lines while presenting multidimensional subject-matters skilfully.
Creating series painting is one of the important aspects of Murtaja Baseer's work.
Among them The Wall is an important series. He painted 92 paintings from 1972-1996 based on this series.
The series started in Dhaka and ended in Paris. He called this series "abstract-realism".
He used to take exact details of different walls in his notebook such as walls with plasters peeling off, bricks protruding from the walls, cracked walls, or walls full of fungus and therefore, different wall textures are apparent in his canvas.
The artist sometimes saw red, black and grey walls as autocratic oppression, or accompanying his solitude. Sometimes he used them to reminisce about his mother.
The Wings series started in 1998 and it is based on butterfly wings. It also belongs to his abstract-realism concept.
No painting of this series is solely based on imagination as Baseer used magnifying glasses to observe the acute design of butterfly wings and later represented them subtly in his drawings.
When a butterfly wing is enlarged and looked at closely, it offers an abstract beauty that attracted the artist. The organisers also provided this opportunity for the visitors.
The Kalima Tayeba
Being interested in spiritual art in late 1970s, he started using Arabic calligraphy in his own style.
One of the most noticeable features found in this series' canvas is the use of golden and sliver colour side-by-side, which he hardly used later.
This painting shows presence of several dominating colours and yet upon close look, gradual transformation of colour or sfumato technique is apparent.
But, the painting as whole seems to uphold "simiularaneous contrast" within complementary colours. He drew 19 paintings in this series.
Baseer drew many portraits in this category. He drew not only the portraits of famous poet Shamsur Rahman or fellow artist Aminul Islam, but also portraits representing traditional manifestations.
The above portraits shed a sharp amalgamation of perspective between the subject which is the woman's face and the background of the painting.
This is, indeed, a unique appearance of a portrait.
The paintings do not show sharp contrast between light and shade or a chiaroscurist contrast, making the eyes as the centre of visual attraction.
"My purpose was not to create intensity, rather mystery," the painter expressed about this series in his book Chitracharcha.
Music for Two Lovers
Renaissance influence on Baseer is seen by his strict application of colour, linear dimensionality, plain contour, and controlled use of light and shade.
He expressed a combination of his experience and thoughts in his canvas.
By superimposing light and shade, expressing the main theme in contour and later using two colours, he created his transparent paintings which he named "transperencism". Music of Two Lovers is a perfect example of this technique.
At the age of 87 and after several years of suffering from a stroke, this prominent artist died from Covid-19 infection in Dhaka, two days before his 88th birthday.
He was buried at Banani graveyard, next to his wife, Amina Baseer.