Breathe in the masters at Galleri Kaya | Greenwatch Dhaka | The leading online daily of Bangladesh

Breathe in the masters at Galleri Kaya


The exhibition, celebrating 12 years of Kaya’s journey, showed just how closely the gallery has related itself to Bangladesh’s art and their beloved masters.Forty-four works by 23 modern artists — from Zainul Abedin to Shishir Bhattacharjee — amazed viewers when it opened on Friday. All, except three, were from Kaya’s own collection, worth almost Tk 20 million.“Works like these aren’t just about what they visibly portray, they are invaluable also because they remind you of the artists’ personality and their extraordinary lives,” said writer Anisul Haque at the event.Among all the amazing displays, there was one that deserved to be looked at for ages — Debdas Chakraborty’s unforgettable vision of a ‘Sunday Morning’ from 1977.Women were pursed into the pockets of an urban maze. Some embraced their men, made love, lingered, read books, played with children while others sat in silence, peered out of windows on a lazy weekend. The sheer size of the board it was painted on made it even more impressionable.Then there was a drawing by SM Sultan from 1984. A row of his iconic muscular men were carrying goods into a village. A slightly better-off ‘Babu’, holding an umbrella, was heading out somewhere.The most captivating of Quamrul Hassan’s three works on display — of a woman who seemed to have just taken a bath. Naked despite the green-red Saree around her, one could feel the wetness of her hair just by the way she held it.A woman picking lilies in a dreamy watercolour forest by Hashem Khan, a duck merged with a lady in a Kalidas Karmakar and a kind of unsettling solitude seeped out of Ratan Mojumder’s woodcut prints.“I’ve never seen anything like this, only a museum can pull this off,” said Gitanka D Datta, collector and VP of MasterCard in Bangladesh. “It’s wonderfully different when an artist runs a gallery.”“We must say we’ve grown close to these artists by coming to Kaya,” said his wife and art collector Srabanti Datta.“People have told me the exhibition is very diverse,” said Galleri Kaya Director Goutam Chakraborty, who collected them over many years. “There is no doubt that they are all very powerful artists and several of them are known across the world.”A gifted artist and son to painter Debdas Chakraborty, he grew up surrounded by legends of Bangladesh art. “Murtaja Baseer sketched this signed portrait of poet Shamsur Rahman in our house at Bhooter Goli in 1992.”He knew all 23 artists by heart and his awareness on how artists and their work should be treated has set Kaya on a noble path.“Artists tend to be very sensitive. They need honour and respect in the way their works are treated and sold.”It was too tempting to ask how it felt to give away a collection so dear and personal. “I’ll get to see them again. I would have had to sell them at some point,” said Chakraborty.A vision to indulge, inspire Galleri Kaya has so far arranged four arts camps with at least a dozen artists — two near the Jamuna River, one at Bandarban and another in Bhutan.It has also flown artists and art materials to Cambodia, Thailand and Bali on Art trips, which usually includes a smaller group. “We like to indulge artists … and in return we get to their hearts,” said Chakraborty.He pointed to a lady in blue by Murtaja Baseer. “He painted her after one of our trips.”Shishir Bhattacharjee, who has been to Kaya’s trips, agreed.“The organiser, if he or she is a practicing artist, makes better choices in terms of selection.”“I’ve noticed how Goutam began calling them art trips instead of camps,” he said, “It shows that he loves to be around artists. He can read their nerves and sniff out potential, maybe it’s in his roots.”“The way he works … Kaya’s trips are almost like vacations, we are never pressurised into doing anything. They gave me a kind of enjoyment that I don’t otherwise get.“His only condition is that we give him something we create after returning home. The senior artists who have travelled with him, you wouldn’t believe how extremely happy they are. They have put their faith in Goutam.” Bhattacharjee, however, struck a more serious tone when he said Bangladeshi artists who manage their own sales are ‘limiting themselves in the long run’.“Goutam is highly professional and we must cooperate with him by working with the gallery. Even artists should promote. That’s how it works abroad.”There are artists who worry too much about the commission, he said, but without galleries they cannot survive for long. “We can’t seem to help him yet and Galleri Kaya needs to be around, it has to survive.” There is no doubt that it will dedicated as it was to being ‘a platform for artists, collectors and viewers’, to quote Kaya’s very generous director.
Galleri Kaya’s 11th Anniversary Exhibition, sponsored by the ADN Group, will be open from 11am to 8:00pm until June 26.


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