Art exhibition by KAZI SALAHUDDIN AHMED, curated by MUSTAFA ZAMAN

October 13-27, 2018, Dwip Gallery, 1/1, Block D (g floor), Lalmatia, Dhaka

Plotting a continuity

Poet Jibanananda Das, in some of his most memorable latter day poems, came close to describing the state of life in Calcutta (now Kolkata) in terms of interruptions in the flow of everyday happenings. With both pictorial accuracy and a sense of ambiguity, he set his gaze to the fallout zones of urban life. A poet whose meditation on lived experience often took a near-metaphysical turn, at times had his mind set on reading signs of aporia. His eyes were seeking out micro-level reality to refer back to a larger social truth. Accordingly, the hydrant in the poem ‘Raat’ or Night, in a typical Jibabanandian way, suddenly erupted and water gushes from it to the relief of a thirsty leper – an imagery the poet evoked, perhaps, not only to decry the sorry state of the dejected, but to gaze at where things ‘fall apart’ and ‘the center cannot hold’. Artist Salahuddin Ahmed set for himself a somewhat identical task when he began to respond to the collapsing buildings and the catastrophic urbanization that has confounded the inhabitants of the city of Dhaka since the late 1990s. The outcome is a series that lends the idea of the ‘fallout’ a set of pictorial traits that rest beyond the region of the disaster.

The best way to remember the fact is by fiction. And in Salahuddin’s creations or fictions there are agglomeration of broken forms and rapidly developed brushwork. The disaffiliation from the actual horror and an established representational techne, which might have given it a taste of the horrific, cast the images into a world of their own.       

‘The unremitting banality and the inconceivable terror, which Susan Sontag was able to read into many a disaster imagery in her country’s cinemas, did not confound Salahuddin. His works are like a series of afterthoughts, or after-images to be exact, through which to retain a sense of equilibrium between the real and the memory of it. They somehow address the endless succession of ‘designer environments’ mediated by modern technology through the instability that lurks behind them. On every occasion, the mental trace has been showcased jettisoning the ‘spectral’ to bring into view a soul-scene-cipher inspired imagery.   

There are behind the scene activities that the images also carry a trace of.  Salahuddin spurted on to his papers the struggle to align the two opposing concerns – one that of the formal quality and the other of the actual impact of the events (Rana Plaza disaster in this occasion).

Straddling the line between the real and the constructed, the artist, in this show entitled ‘Fallout’, is bent on plotting a continuity (of life and art) through the means of abstraction, thereby expanding on the scope of the aesthetic engineering fed by the self-generating principle of creativity which is the essence of human life.