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The Boundless Brush

Monjur Rashid, refusing to confine his creativity within the rigidity of boundaries, pursues his craft as an ever-changing language. He earned both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in the Faculty of Fine Arts at the University of Development Alternative (UODA). The artist had his first solo exhibition, “Searching Myself,” at Alliance Française de Dhaka in late 2014. He went on to have two more solo exhibitions, including his 2020 exhibition, “Intimate Travel,” held at the Shilpangan Gallery.

Monjur Rashid has participated in as many as “65 to 70 group exhibitions nationally and abroad,” and he continues to create art as a full-time profession. Offering a glimpse into his passion for art, he stated, “Over my journey as an artist, I’ve participated in many art exhibitions, camps, activities, and group exhibitions. Art is not just a hobby for me; it’s a full-time job. When I pursued other professions, I saw myself being unable to give time to my craft. I want to spend my days with art, creating art.”

The artist has a distinct vision for art, going beyond what he depicts as “academic language”.

He is open to any medium that he deems as a worthy tool in his expression of this language of color. 

Monjur Rashid stated, “I don’t want to be bound by mediums.”

In academic language, there is strict adherence to mediums within genres. While some aspects of academic language are retained in art, it doesn’t mean there’s no room for experimentation. Create your own language. You’ll see artists working with acrylic, finishing the details with oil or charcoal artists finishing with acrylic. Like that, I believe I am in the process of creating and have somewhat created my own language of art. If I want, I’ll use watercolour for a bit, if charcoal is needed to express what my heart wants to express, charcoal it is. If it is pastel, then it is pastel, I will not allow myself to be bound by the mediums I use.” 

Currently working on three series, “Portrait, Flower and Wildlife”. Monjur expressed that the “three sometimes interact and intertwine. At times they are separate entities.”

The artist described the portrait series as “vital”, stating, “I want to portray my life, my surroundings, my family, my sorrows, joys and everything in between. At any given moment whatever my heart desires, I try to include it through this series. Time changes, and we all experience different things.  There’s so much written word everywhere, whether it’s a letter, passwords, or almost everything. My experiences mark my art. So, If you examine closely, a lot of my paintings have text.”

Rashid has also incorporated “local language” into his art. “When I sit at a tong, there are several conversations. People of different backgrounds, and classes, sit together to discuss their life, politics, and whatever is concerning them at the moment. These experiences are a language to me, small notes. My portrait series actually began from here, trying to gather bits and pieces of life into art,” revealed the UODA graduate. 

The artist explained the experience behind one of his paintings “Waiting”. He spoke of a young girl in a time forgone, who was waiting anxiously for a letter to arrive. The artist noted his attempt to capture a certain “nostalgia”, creating a tangible form of anticipation.  

Monjur Rashid noted that there is a disproportionate concentration of galleries in the capital, “People in the districts, university students, studying outside of Dhaka. Having galleries nearby is a great opportunity for them.” In his desire to incorporate the aspects of life into his art, he highlights the necessity of accessibility of art for everyone.

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