“Chaa Porbo (Tea Time)”, an exhibition by noted artist Shehzad Chowdhury, is taking place at The Flourist, in Dhaka’s Gulshan 2. Curated by Saria Saguaro, the show features a striking collection of artworks, which were brought to life using tea and the process of cyanotype, during the months of isolation induced by the pandemic.
The artworks, through the portrayal of earthly tones, and lingering brushstrokes, evoke a sense of poetic calm, while a typewriter holding on to a welcome note reads, “When the pandemic hit, the artist was concerned about the availability of art materials. So, he decided to find ways to make art with readily available things around him, leaning in to using tea along with flower petals and fallen leaves from his garden.”
The pieces on exhibit are intimate, poetic etchings of the artist, as if to note that he is having a cup of warm tea with the company of his own self.
“During the days that I spent in isolation, my studio overlooked a garden and I actually got a chance to admire the natural process, even amidst all the chaos. My relationships with people, my surroundings, the trees and cats around me are all my elements of inclusion,” Chowdhury explained.
Starting from using tea as the vehicle of creation to playing with the structures of lotus and lunar forms, a Yin-Yangesque duality of gendered energies, one can find faintly illuminated veins of bougainvillea petals and fallen leaves, making this particular rhythm of admiration palpable along the threads of Chowdhury’s paintings, which work as intricate odes to nature itself.
The artworks at “Chaa Porbo”, though strongly eluding a sense of Romantic revelation, are also interestingly politically charged. The political themes start from the use of the media itself, which is filled to its last sip with colonial legacy.
When one thinks of political postmodern art, the conversation often leads to deconstruction of delightfully whacky pieces, which brings kitsch and elegance within a single frame — an art form which exists to make a statement and one which often smugly steers clear from the foundations of aestheticism. “Chaa Porbo”, without doing this, fulfills the many tenets of postmodernism, with the artist being clad in a punjabi of an earthy tone.
“The myths and stories that I have come across in my life have synthesised in my subconscious being, and they come out in my work in the form of a certain style, I guess. It is all about the playful spirit,” the artist concluded with a smile. “Chaa Porbo” will be open till April 8, from 3 pm to 9 pm.
The author is a postgrad student of English Literature and a freelance journalist. firstname.lastname@example.org.