She was sipping tea as I entered the gallery on No 27 Dhanmondi. I wondered around mesmerised by the solo exhibition. I wondered how could one possibly sit there sipping tea and not be drawn by the works on view. Afer I had gone around twice, I flicked through the pages of the stylishly produced but thin gallery booklet on the artist. And there she was at the back - the photograph of the artist. I recognised her even though she was not sipping tea. Even prettier in life than her picture in the pamphlet, I had no hesitation in asking her if she was the artist, and then insisting that she tell me about some of the paintings. She graciously obliged. My first question was about a protest painting about the war in iraq entitled “Stop Genocide.” She revisited her thoughts about that acrylic work and explained how distraught she was that all this was being done in the name of democracy and freedom. I moved on to my purchases and insisted on explanations. Here was a chance to get to the artist and ask her about the things that resonated within me. Entitled “Recollection” one work was a wispy, floating and a nebulous recollection of a river in Faridpur. Incredible - her ancestry is the same as mine!

Murshida Arzu Alpana

She must have been irked. She must have thought I was an uncouth consumer wanting the “specs” on her life’s reflections. I hope not. The exhibition is called SPAGAT: Living in two worlds. She has been living in Germany since 1993 and as the booklet points out she understands “poignantly the feeling of in-betweenness that characterises modern metropolitan living and the whole migrant ethos.”" That much is clear. There is also a little anger in some of the paintings. No, quite a lot I think. The social awareness is explicit, and she seems to be directing it in a progressive direction. Murshida is an extremely engaging artist and I could hardly tear myself away from the gallery. I can’t wait to tell A in Berlin about her. And I can’t wait to see more of her works in Berlin! If you are in Dhaka - go see the exhibition at the Bengal Gallery of Fine Arts until the 28th of this month!

Behind the glass-wall