Manir Mrittik’s Mona Lisa|The new version

Photography, painting and visual arts have been fast emerging as a means of one’s expression. Visual arts are the recently touched and the most fascinating sphere of all. It is a realm full of possibilities. Interdisciplinary nature of visual arts makes it ambivalent. Each work carries the same content, yet multiple meanings. Our emerging artist, Manir Mrittik, showcases his works with similar wide range spectra. His interest in paintings grew when he saw a man paint a portrait and it was then that he noted the ambivalence of arts. His interests did not settle at the brushes, as he decided to try his hand at photography too.

Manir Mrittik’s artworks are a mixture of metaphors which allows the viewer to pick his own meaning. He had his debut solo exhibition titled “In a Realm of Ambivalence” at Akar Prakar art gallery where he beautifully showcased the amalgam of realism through almost 40 photographs. Some of his works are the black and white photographs which have been modified with watercolour hand painting.

When asked about his works he said, “I am interested in exploring beauty in human life as a part of nature in a dream-like manner. Digital cameras usually capture only the visible light for regular photography and only what the human eyes can see. But I want to see more or less through my camera, as one would with spectrum light. I modify camera for the invisible light, sometimes removing the hot mirror. If I am not happy with the camera, I take the prints and work with the photograph itself”.The 40 photograph exhibition was represented in six sets, each with a different theme. A tapestry of four works, “Alternative Masterpieces” is one of the sets which display the understanding that all beings are connected at an eternal level through invisible threads.

The Intimate Work

The purpose of this set is to illuminate this idea and explore these invisible threads. This was done by using the concept called “gender cross-casting”. Mrittik has tried to portray his works via tapestry; his works include the masterpieces like “Girl with a Pearl Earring” by Johannes Vermeer and “Mona Lisa” by Leonardo da Vinci. The paintings are made in an amalgam of printing and photography, each one is carefully woven into the other.

“Mona Lisa” is women into a self-portrait by him. “Tapestry is an old technique in photography. I have tried to understand the relation between time and space by bringing two pictures together, one cut horizontally and the other vertically,” he explains.

The next eye-catching set is a five work tapestry titled “The Lovers Redux” that takes us through love, passion, and intimacy altogether. We can see another intricate set of 21 works, made by photographic print and gold leaves. This set named “Natural Vessels” enlightens us with the immortal connection between man and nature. When asked about his inspiration, he said it comes from nature.

We have corrupted the soil we tread, the air we breathe, and the water we drink. We need to re-establish the link with nature,” he observes. The gold leaves, he says, acts as a metaphor in his works. He uses it to cover the face dragging the viewer’s focus on the body. I want to treat these photographs as bodies.”

Bangladeshi Art

Mrittik paid tribute to Vincent Van Gogh through one of his works; the set “The Sunflower Is Also Mine.” This set of work took two years to get done. Manir Mirttik rented a farm and planted sunflowers in it. He wanted the photograph to be precise and natural. So, he watched them grew for two long years. He took the photographs at the right moment and created such fine work. Manir mentions, “It always gives me pause when I think that I haven’t really ever seen Van Gogh’s Sunflower in person. But the history and the significance of those flowers carry a certain fragrance, a fragrance that is impossible for any artist with good nose to resist. It was quite an experience walking in those old boots, sitting in that garden full of blazing flora.

“Tanzim Wahab, who is a curator of Manir’s works, comments on duality of his works,” In the early 2000s, when other photographers were newly exploring these conceptual ideas, doing documentary-centric practice, Mrittik was ahead. He almost imitates or mimics this museum language. He has a critical, iconoclastic mind of questioning the mainstream power of art history. It is not merely digitally manipulated work but also handwoven and time-consuming.” He thinks that Mrittik’s works are unparalleled and have much to reveal.

Manir Mrittik first investment of the season showcasing Bangladeshi art. Wahab says, “The series is more like a dichotomy or binary of conversations. Where you see a generation of minimalist artists who are very influential along with ones who questioned their position as social activists. Artworks by the young contemporary Bangladeshi artists will also be displayed showcasing works on political repression and a general commentary on society and its transformation. The final installment of Bangladeshi art will star senior contemporary artists of Bangladesh.

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