Dhaka Art Summit ended with love

The first two weeks of February, Dhaka became a hub of artists’ gathering from all across the world. They gathered to attend the Dhaka Art Summit-2018.  Artworks, belonging to an array of genres and representing 35 countries, have been displayed here. Dipa Mahbuba Yasmin has visited this summit and shared her experience with New Age Youth.

Harano Shur on the Utopian Stage in Hritu Sattar’s direction

Harano Shur on the Utopian Stage in Hritu Sattar’s direction

The first two weeks of February for Bangladeshi artists and art lovers was about a joyous gathering. Amid a festive mood, this gathering was held in Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy. From February 2-10, Dhaka Art Summit-2018 was held at the Jatiya Natyashala auditorium. Samdami Art Foundation, in collaboration with Shilpakala Academy, has organised this international art gathering. Making it a true cosmopolitan art gathering, curators and artists from across the globe have participated in this event at the heart of our capital. In ten curatorial shows, over 300 arts were displayed from artists of at least 35 countries. According to the summit authority, over 1200 foreign guests have attended the summits fourth session.

picRight before the main entrance, there were works of two very prominent artists. Pakistani artist Rasheed Araeen’s large red-bamboo structure will catch anyone’s attention. Right in front of that, the second one to greet the guests was another bamboo-shade by the 92 – year old veteran Hungarian born French artist Yona Friedman.

After entering through the main entrance, there was an open display of seven artists, who had immense importance in the history of Bangladeshi art since its dawn. Sabih-ul-Alam, Tazul Islam, Sayed Enayet Hossain, Shafiqul Islam, Abul Mansur, Chandra Shekhar De and Muhammad Shawkat Haider works, gave a glimpse and the essence of the dawn on Dhaka and Chittagong art world from the 70s. Most of these paintings were on loan from the University of Chittagong archive.

Rasheed Araeen’s structural artwork

Rasheed Araeen’s structural artwork

On the first floor, works of Munem Wasif, Subas, Tamang, Neha Choksi, Joydeb Roaja, Jakkai Siributr, Amin Taasha, Kanak Chapa Chakma, Ramesh Mario, Htein Lin, Khadim Ali, Nilima Sheikh, Shahid Sajjad, Yasmin Jahan Nupur, Kamruzzaman Shadhin were on display under the title of Bearing Points. Diana Campbell Betancourt was the curator of this exhibition. On this floor, there was another exhibition by Kanakchapa Chakma. Her artwork with revolutionary spirit demonstrated the ongoing cultural and religious intolerance in Bangladesh. Being one of the prime attractions of this summit, the plight of minority cultures crushed by the nation-building in South Asia was major focus of Bearing Points.

There were also examples of first ten sessions of the oldest art exhibition in Asia organised by Shilpakala Academy. Works of artists like S M Sultan, Shafiuddin Ahmed were displayed here. This exhibition was held with the help of Japan’s Fukuoka Museum. On this floor, art lover’s main attraction was another exhibition named Utopian Stage.

On the second floor, things got more interesting. The first exhibition here was Planetary Planning curated by Devika Singh. The legendary architect Mazharul Islam’s design, Novera Ahmed’s sculpture and work of Zarina Hashmi, Mohammad Kibria, Isamu Noguchi, Lala Rukh, Hera, Buyuktasciyan, Amie Siegel, Seher Shah, Ayesha Sultana were under spotlight here.

This art summit is playing an important role in the Bangladeshi art hemisphere, as well as gaining international significance. This summit also announces that arts from south-east Asia are gradually getting international importance. Paintings, sculptures, video arts, installation arts were some of the major attraction of this year. An array of different kinds of arts from artists belonging to different cultures and history were displayed under the same roof, this added a potent multi-cultural flavour to this summit, thus bringing an international exposure to the arts and artists of Bangladesh.

Another major attraction of the second floor was the exhibition of the arts nominated for the Samdami Art Award this year. Works of eleven artists nominated by the jury panel were displayed here. Ashfika Rahman’s photograph ‘the power Box’ and ‘rape is political’, Rakib Ahmed’s ‘see and be seen’, Ahmed Russel’s ‘no way to go’, Marzia Farhana’s paper school that was mainly an ‘equilibrium project’,  Arpita Singha Lopa’s ‘girl belonging of mother womb’ and Palash Bhattacharjee’s five channel video installation naming ‘cosmos’ were some of the major attractions of this show. This year’s best award went to Mizanur Rahman for his ‘the soul who fails to fly into the space’.

On the third floor, prominent artists like Kalidash Karmakar, Rafigqun Nabi, Shishir Bhattacharjya, Kabir Nisar Hossain, Rokeya Sultana exhibited their works. In an adjacent gallery, a joint exhibition was held with arts from thirteen major art institutions’ works. Among others, Back Art, Daagi Art, Garage, Gidree Bawlee Foundation of Arts, Jog Art Space, Shoni Mongol Adda, Uronto Artist Community were here.

Organisers have informed that familiarising Southeast Asia and Indian oceanic country arts on a global stage was their primary goal for this year’s session. Reaching global spectators and art enthusiasts with Bangladeshi art was another major concern for the organisers.

At least 55 international art foundations have actively participated in this festival, besides there was support from Bangladesh tourism board, information ministry, cultural ministry, national museum, and investment development authority. Not only artists, but also ordinary people with little or no experience in art also gathered in this programme. This seems like a very good sign, as these momentary experiences might open up their minds and makes them more tolerant.


   Dipa Mahbuba Yasmin is a young film maker.




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