Artist InsightFeature

Etching Spirits | Lutfa Mahmuda

Text by Zariat Mushfique Khan

Lutfa Mahmuda maintained a close relationship with the arts from a very early age. The Visva-Bharati University graduate nurtured this connection through her practice of painting and dance. After completing her Art residency in Jakarta, Indonesia, her works have been showcased internationally on platforms such as SAYPA by Kibria Chapchitra studio, the International oriental art Biennale in Bangladesh National Museum, the sixth Silk Road International Art Festival exhibition in Xian, among others.

The artist’s concentration remains in printmaking, which she chose from a variety of electives offered at Visva-Bharati. Noting the assortment in styles Mahmuda states, “There’s etching, woodcut, lithography, to name a few. Currently, I’m experimenting with lithography on aluminium sheets. The diversity of printmaking held a magnetism for me, I never considered any other elective for a moment.” She elaborates that her preferred medium is etching, as it creates the sharpest lines and resonates with her the most both conceptually and style-wise.

Lutfa shares that concepts aren’t at the forefront of her work as she has a confident understanding of the notions of human relationships that motivate her art.

“First, I create a layout using watercolour or acrylic to discern colour variations. I then begin the lengthy etching process, transferring the drawing, taking a ‘proof-print’ to make sure everything is as it should be. After the proof-printing, the final print is created.”

The pandemic, an overall scarcity of spaces that fit the needs of printmaking and a lack of accessibility to the proper machinery greatly affected Lutfa Mahmuda’s work. To bypass this issue, she started to focus on painting, desiring to transfer her stylised etching to painting. However, she found it to be quite the task due to the differences in the art forms prompting similar lines and textures to be extremely difficult to reproduce in painting. Despite the learning curve, Lutfa isn’t hindered and has actually found painting to be quite emotionally rewarding.

She conveyed that the most prominent difference between painting and printmaking is the reusability factor, “If you want the same painting in a different shade, another canvas is necessary. For prints, this does not apply. Once a print plate is ready, it can be reused multiple times with various colours enabling numerous colour variations on the same plate.”

Lutfa expressed that creativity isn’t a medium that can be forced and that in situations where she feels stuck, she views it as essential to consume the work of fellow artists, visit exhibitions and understand their processes in order to overcome and gain inspiration.

She noted her admiration of senior artists of the field, simultaneously providing the observation of how art transcends the spatial relationship of time. “Even if an artist passes, they live on through their work surpassing earthly and monetary bounds.”

Lutfa Mahmuda

Lutfa Mahmuda shines a light on the realities of pursuing a career in the arts and how the devotion to the craft remains a driving force. “Right now, in this interview, it’s easy to paint a pretty picture of what it is to be an artist, but behind the lens, the reality is extremely different. Pursuing anything creative, while it may sire positivity, it will receive twice the amount of critique. Many fresh graduates who have devoted their lives to crafts are forced to change their fields, despite having the skill and the work to show for it. Freelance artisans mostly receive proper compensation for their craft and skill from foreign patrons, however locally, excluding a certain niche, there is a scarcity of patrons that don’t cater to just big names.”

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