This week, we welcome artist Firoz Mahmud. At the core of Mahmud’s practice are drawings, paintings, sculptures and photo images that engage with his cultural, historical, migrational, mythological and political landscapes from South Asia and the Bengal region. The ‘Drawing Reverberation’ series of paintings, wood carvings and drawings delineate how foreign immigrant emperors migrated from Persia to South Asia and colonized the Bengal region for centuries. The project also extends Bengal legacy and history as well as the British East Indian colonial era and their trade and rule all over South Asia and its epicenter in Bengal. Most of these works depict the social past, evidence of things left behind, Islamism, history, myth and beliefs of the past.
“I used to like and read ‘Itihash’ (history) and ‘Vugol’ (geography) more than ‘Onko’ (mathematics). My father and grandfather were academicians, historians and writers. I was influenced to reflect legacies, myths and histories on my paintings. I use idioms juxtaposing old palaces, forts, spice trees or herbaceous plants, wild animals, migrational and geographical traces and colonial traders. The narrativity and mythology of paintings and drawings that beg the question of how they exist today, and what forces have created new visual territories, impacting how we remember our own cultural histories and those of our neighbors. Very often, I confront many Bangladeshis at different locations in New York and many of whom had arduous experience migrating to the US. Being influenced by the book ‘Bengali Harlem and the Lost Histories of South Asian America,’ I feel to reveal a lost history of Bengali sojourning and life-making in New York city. Living and confronting different cultures, regions and horizons vacillated most of my art projects, which made me a person of mixed feelings. But I don’t want to lose my own culture, history and legacy.”