Disambiguating the language of subversion
Shuvo's manifold Intervention
Published - Depart Magazine, 2010
Md Rafiqul Islam Shuvo ( born 1982 ) is a sculptor turned painter and multimedia artist. As in the new millennium, the postmodern as well as postconceptual genres of the West began to exert their influence on artists across the world, many a young artist had to reposition themselves to be in tandem with the contemporary developments. But for some it occasioned parallel thinking as they felt a strong need to take into cognizance the advancing art movements of the West but were also determined not to renounce the politics of location. Shuvo can be aligned with the latter group of artists because of his tendency to work from within the perimeter of modern-day problematics related to human existence in an ever-changing political society.
This twenty-plus artist first drew the attention of his teachers and fellow students at the Institute of Fine Arts (now, Faculty of Fine Arts, Dhaka University), displaying a tendency to cast his position through a cosmic understanding of the world. Though in his initial efforts visuality ruled over all other aesthetico-political considerations, but what they also used to elicit is the eagerness to relate to the rhythm of his life-experiences. With intermittent spurts of creativity – which resulted in various phases, while dealing with sculptural and the painterly, especially in his two-dimensional works, there emerged an artist whose all-over paintings gave way to works based on anthropomorphic forms.
If religiosity helped him to navigate through subject matter such as primal existential condition of the embryo in the womb and in turn helped him to understand life as a gift from the Unknown, his inquiry into the social sphere they finally inhabit as they grow into full-blown humans lodged him on an entirety different terrain. In 2006, Shuvo began to organize his thoughts along materialistic interpretations of life in a given social environment and the result was an abrasive artistic diction that trashed the sanguine view of life preferred by Dhaka cognoscenti.
With the unidiomatic treatment of space and colour, the entire series that was hatched as a social critique as well as a strong statement with the intention to overturn institutional hegemony based on the preference for niceties of colour and compositional balance, Shuvo's status as a rising young artist was no longer left to speculations.
In the subsequent years his no-hold-barred attitude led to some important installations and video presentations. His entry at the 13th Asian Biennale suggested a shift in his stance vis-à-vis his aesthetic experimentations as he introduced manufactured object such as a series of low-priced mirrors – placed in grid – to address identity and human condition with the playfulness he never before achieved.
That he strives to reposition himself and rethink his visual and tactical strategies time and again bears down on his sinuous journey of the last ten years that has so far helped him to get an upper hand over his contemporaries working to subvert established norms. Perhaps his one-year stint ( 2007 ) in Pakistan, at Beacon House National University, where he was a student of video art, has also fuelled his passion for the outré and the unconventional. And the fact that he was one the favourite students of Rashid Rana, who took him in his class following admission, also helped him to continuously redefine his own territory.
A recent series tells us that Shuvo is out to map the ambiguous relationship between the real and the represented and is preoccupied with how they are being circulated throughout the world via social networking. The artist who preferred to jolt the viewers into new awareness, is now set out to react to all kinds of textual and pictorial representation showing a strong preference for irony.
- DEPART DESK