Solo Exhibition by MASUDUR RAHMAN Curated by MUSTAFA ZAMAN
October 20 – November 11, 2023, Dwip Gallery, 1/1, Block D (g floor), Lalmatia, Dhaka
The Blissful Lightness of Being
Human forms have their own way of transmitting the collective state of existence. Seen in a cluster, they also become a bit abstract. As crowds or masses they need to be looked at through this veil of abstraction before one is able to determine what they stand for in their moment of togetherness. If it is a particular set of worldly concerns which have inspired such a congregation, it is the vox populi, the voice of the majority people, through which a crowd is recognised as a democratic political mass.
But as a crowd, or a cluster of bodies caught up in a cosmic rhythm, what do the human actors articulate? And, most of all, what type of ‘unity’ binds these human actors together? These are the questions that surge to the fore while contemplating the images Masudur Rahman has brought into existence.
The artist who is having his first solo exhibition toys with the idea of existence from the point of view of a spiritualist, if not a theist. In layman’s terms, Masudur or Masud deals with ‘floating figures’ craving for things that lie beyond their reach. The gasticulating men and women may thus be seen as individuals seeking to emulate the unity they once enjoyed in the ‘womb world’. Some psychologists tell us that the foetal stage conditions every person to desire at least some semblance of the bond of unity once felt in the cosmos of the womb. But, how does that ‘felt world’ extend from that immersive experience of floating in the amniotic fluid to the experience of the blissful lightness of the body? Setting aside the question whether this is the only way to mentally situate oneself close to the ‘whole’, one can pronounce that this ‘state’ is not the result of some yoga-induced biochemical changes. There are of course spiritual investments that come from within and without, or from the mind and the body.
The artist feels that the individual body mirrors the entire universe through its cosmic constitution. For him the self becomes a site of universal knowledge as he believes that the universe can be discovered through self-excavation, which is , without a doubt, a continuous process.
Making the self a celestial agent has its dividends. The artist boldly sets aside the entire intellectual trajectory that we as moderns have accepted in the form of Western Existentialism. This is the threshold from where the artist’s works begin to unravel a narrative affording a holistic understanding of life – a life in which the individual and the collective as well as the entire universe come to an alignment to form a whole. Such a unity is emancipatory as it not only elevates one from the whirlpool of worldly concerns, thereby making one feel the ‘lightness’ of being in the world, but also intensifies one’s existence through his or her emplacement within the elusive, but not illusory, ‘grand design’. No doubt, this is the realm we lost sight of due to the rise of Positivism, a Western mode of thinking through which the body remains forever separated from the mind, the individual from the collective and the human from the cosmos.
Masudur recognises human beings in a ‘flow’, a cadence through which they have always remained above the dross of the day-to-today affairs, which is in itself a rebellion against the norm.
However, his attention is not set on the hierarchy of the lived experiences nor is it about the separation of the worldly and divine life. In fact, he unveils a geography where all human beings lose their sense of hierarchy. His non-judgemental, non-hierarchical gaze helps him discover that other than the social processes which lead us to a hierarchical society there is another form of ‘existence’ which connects us to a greater force and helps us imagine our bodies in relation to the grand design.
For this artist life’s mystery lies in the lived experiences. Governed by a primordial force, life’s pleasures, agonies or even feelings of despair and abjection it gives rise to are like passing storms. Masudur Rahman may not have remained untroubled by the goings of of the world but he finds a place of belonging even amid the everyday chaos. Situating himself in a sensorium from where he aspires to travel ‘beyond’ the given time and space. It is this framework through which his imageries come to life and give us a sense of eternity.
Artist, critic and curator based in Dhaka
To me, Drawing is the cosmic journey and the line is my spaceship. Thus the creation of art follows the cosmic theory. For this reason art gives me mysterious depth. This is my enjoyment of life.
I feel the Universe through my own art.
To me the human figure is the centre of the universe, also the universe and everything and nothing. The universe and art both transform from nothing to everything and everything to nothing. This is me and my art. I am inspired by ancient Indian and renaissance art.