It is commonly said that life imitates art, and consequently, art tends to revolve around human life and all its intricacies. However, the delicate balance is often lost, and art becomes an exotic idea to the masses. Saidul Haque Juise’s art, in all its magnificence, manages to evade that trap. His creations breathe in tandem with the ancient Bengali culture and manage to touch the beholder’s very soul.
Hailing from Rangpur, Saidul Haque Juise’s childhood was open to experiences that only made his way to becoming an artist smoother. Whether painting cards during the famine and selling them to make petty money, helping to make artistic structures from locally available sources, or playing with clay and turning it into dolls– these experiences were simply a part of his life. As such artistic pursuits came so innately to him, his family naturally sent him to study at the art college, now known as Charukola.
Saidul Haque Juise’s first impression of Charukola was that of near-spiritual awe. “Would they let me in?” he confessed of having the thought. Since then, he has given Charukola similar regard as one would to a shrine.
As an artist, Saidul Haque Juise does not only attribute his growth to the lessons learned inside the classrooms, from the teachers’ instructions. He gives a lot of credit to the extracurricular activities and experiences he’s gathered in his years as a student.
“The first year was spent familiarising myself with Dhaka and Charukola. From the second year, I found that I had started making friends,” he said. He was friends with a wide variety of people of various ages, many older than him by 5/6 years even. With them, he would work on gigs such as building sets for dramas at the TSC.
Another memorable experience that he gained through this network of friends was the chance to work with eminent artist Mustafa Monwar, assisting him in one of his puppet projects.
Due to his propensity to take on unique works like these, Saidul Haque Juise said he and his friends were often subjected to ridicule from both his peers and teachers. But that did not deter him from his ways. And he is the artist that he is today because he stood his ground and didn’t go with the flow like many of his peers.
Some artists were more focused on painting and selling their creations to various galleries to generate income. “I was earning too. But I didn’t start painting with the intention of selling them,” he says.
“If practising art does not come from the feeling of enjoyment, then it is meaningless,”
While a portion of his peers sought to commercialize their art, Saidul Haque Juise and like-minded artists focused more on the enjoyment of art, the journey instead of the destination. After those years became a past to reminisce, the artist does not find a single bit of regret in the path he chose. His formative years as an artist were full of learning, challenges, and the simple pleasure of creating art for the sake of art, and not for any financial benefit.
“I don’t partake in a lot of exhibitions,” he said. “I make art mostly because it gives me inner peace.” His work is not always for a gallery or residence wall, either. Rather he gains inspiration from the space he is working on. For example, large and open spaces encourage him to take on large projects.
The word of art isn’t confined to painting on canvases only, Saidul Haque Juise thinks. In fact, every individual has an artistic soul, reflecting their views through the clothes they wear, and the food they eat. Similarly, he doesn’t confine himself to only traditional media either.
He works with locally available, inexpensive materials such as paper, metal wire, bamboo, and so on. He especially loves to make masks. Saidul Haque Juise has conducted several mask-making workshops over the years.
Another thing he loves is to join in on festivals. “Festival design attracts me immensely. It makes me forget everything else.”
Saidul Haque Juise confessed to liking making art with paper more than other mediums. There are so many things to do with paper. When folded, it has its own language. It can be painted on and changed if the output isn’t to the artist’s liking. Other materials, such as metal, aren’t as malleable.
Talking about his recent works, he brought up a set of art that focuses on windows. During the pandemic, and especially the lockdown, homestuck people would sit on their windows and eagerly look for other people outside. Based on that theme, the artist’s works feature windows and very vague suggestions of figures outside, trying to capture the feeling of those isolated days. He also made art focused on the “Black Lives Matter” movement a few months ago. Most of them are done in black ink. “I tried to depict their pain,” he said about the subject of those pieces.
“For me, an artist’s journey is never-ending. Not for a day, I sit and gloat about how happy I am with my creations. Instead, I finish something, and then start with another right away,”
Saidul Haque Juise said.