Sayeed Hossain Bhuiyan Shuvro talks to the legendary sculptor of Bangladesh Hamiduzzaman Khan at NaliniKantaBhattasali Gallery, Bangladesh National Museum, Shahbagh in the city during a retrospective exhibition of his artworks
How do you perceive peoples’ perception towards sculpture and sculptors in Bangladesh?
Because of prejudice, people in Bangladesh used to stay away from sculpture and still they think sculpture is statue and creating sculpture goes against our religion.
Actually sculpture is an art work. It requires a creative process to reach perfection. Sculpture is an expression like painting, music, poetry, literature and so on. There should have been no clash regarding sculpture. Certainly sculpture is a powerful and tangible singularity of artists’ expression.
As you write, writing is your medium of expression. Same to the painters and singers. Actually art is a tangible medium of expression and all the artists whether he is a painter or sculptor or writer or musician, belong to the same group.
Without art and culture we would have remained uncivilized. I believe that when there was no art and culture, there was no difference between animal and human beings.
How do you pledge your ideas for creating sculptures?
Before creating a sculpture, we have to do a lot of drawing. Through drawing we develop our ideas. So before making a sculpture I apply my ideas into drawing.
Just as one can change shapes via computer one can do these paintings in different ways and add the shapes and colors at will.
These are the basic dialogues between me and form and colors, which I make innumerable times until I get shapes and sizes that I require to form the basis of my sculpture. These create a pleasant ambience within which to place my metal works.
Do you like to experiment with different medium and materials and forms?
Throughout my career I have been experimenting with different medium, various materials and certainly with different forms. I started working with wood and soil.
Nowadays I prefer stone and iron. In fact, I have been working with stones since last 10 years. I made sculptures using bronze for about 11 years. Next, I moved onto sheet metal. Afterwards, I worked using pipes for 12 years.
I think, right now there are two basic materials of sculptures. One is Stone and another is Stainless Steel. Stone means Granite not Marble. When few of us started doing sculpture in Bangladesh there was only a couple of materials. We worked only with soil and wood. Now we have a plethora of materials in Bangladesh and therefore now we have more opportunities for experimenting with different materials, various medium and certainly with different forms.
What is your dream as long as sculpture is concerned?
Right now, you can find a lot of sculpture parks around the world. Many planned and well-organized sculpture parks are developing in different parts of the world.
Sculpture Park is a new phenomenon. Before 40 or 50 years there were no such park in the world. I also urged Cultural Affairs minister Asaduzzaman Noor to make a sculpture park in the town. Though he assured me but now there is no response.
I create sculpture, I have a dream that I will make a sculpture park by myself in Bangladesh. I have been nurturing such dream in my heart for the last 30 years. I will try to make this possible within a year. In fact, the purpose of this exhibition is to understand the peoples’ response. Already I have fixed an acre of land at Kashimpur for my sculpture park.
Students in schools and collages do not have any subject on sculpture under fine arts. Such initiative can inspire many to pursue as a subject for majoring. Is it possible to include sculpture in the school curriculam?
Yes. It is possible. In America there are sculpture parks which invite children to make sculptures. Museum authority provides them with different materials like wood, steel, pipe, rubber etc. to make sculpture. As long as in our country we have drawing and painting as academic subject in school then why not sculpture? Yes I think it is possible.
What are the whereabouts of the students of the Department of Sculpture?
Currently there are 300 educated sculptors in our country. They are doing well.
Moreover, they are doing prestigious jobs especially in IT sector as sculptors are known to be good in drawing.
What would be your message to the young sculptors and artists?
My message would be the words of an eminent artist and sculptor Auguste Roden. He said, “Be a man before being an artist”. I believe that artists cannot do evil and harm others. I think you cannot be an artist before being a human being.
To the sculptors I would like to say, do not lose your patience. Creating sculptures requires a plethora of sweating and hard work. I think to be a sculptor you need to have a studio and certainly you must work hard. But having a studio in Dhaka is very costly. So I always suggest my students to try to make a studio in their village.
The entire five storied building where I live is my studio. Without having a personal studio, perhaps it would not have been possible for me to create a large number of sculptures.
Hamiduzzaman Khan, born in 1946 at Kishoreganj, is a veteran sculptor of Bangladesh. He has exhibited internationally and also created a good number of notable sculptures seenin Dhaka and across the country. He received the EkusheyPadak in 2006.