Evocative paintings move Shabana Azmi to tears
A visibly moved Shabana Azmi said about internationally acclaimed Bangladeshi artist Shahabuddin's works, "Words cannot adequately express the overwhelming emotions surfacing when I saw his works."The actress par excellence, who has earned considerable repute as a social activist throughout the sub-continent, was a vision of grace and sophistication in a saree, with a flower in her hair. As a horde of cameras blocked her from the view, Azmi moved to the other side of the podium, so that the seated guests could see her. She had flown in from Durban, South Africa. Speaking as a special guest at the opening of Shahabuddin's latest solo exhibition "Jai Bangla" on September 27 at Bengal Gallery of Fine Arts, the Indian actress who has avid fans in Dhaka, said, "When Luva (Nahid Chowdhury) invited me, I was a little apprehensive, as my schedule was pretty tight, but I believe it's my good fortune that I decided to come here."The actress demonstrated her formidable oratory skills and compassion for arts as she continued, "We, South Asians, have to work together if we intend to make our presence felt on the global stage. No, we're not talking about homogeneity. This is not a melting pot where individual identities get submerged. The sub-continent is a colourful mosaic, and this diversity is our strength.""I was looking at Shahabuddin's works, and I wasn't alone. This was not the best setting to fully appreciate art, but these images stopped me in my tracks. I was immersed in the world of his paintings. When you can give even one viewer this feeling, as an artist you have earned your greatest honour," Azmi said as her voice choked up momentarily and her eyes glistened with tears. Shahabuddin fondly recalled watching "Ankur" (Azmi's debut film) in Oxford and being an ardent admirer of the thespian ever since. The artist is clearly not a man of words, but his paintings speak volumes and beyond to articulate the bedlam, the fire within. Finance Minister AMA Muhith, who was the chief guest, called Shahabuddin "the Jai Bangla artist." According to the minister, "Shilpacharya Zainul Abedin is known for his works on 'manwantar' (the great famine of 1943 in Bengal), and Shahabuddin's muse is the Liberation War. This freedom fighter's experiences during the war continue to stir his artistic senses."Luva Nahid Chowdhury, director general of Bengal Foundation, thanked the CEO of HSBC, Bangladesh, Sanjay Prakash, and the French Ambassador to Bangladesh Charley Causeret who expressed their deep interest in arranging the exhibition. "This is the 153rd exhibition hosted by Bengal Gallery of Fine Arts," informed Luva Nahid Chowdhury.Sumona Hassan, daughter of master artist 'Patua' Quamrul Hassan, presented paintings by her father to Shahabuddin, Shabana Azmi and the French Ambassador as gifts at the event.