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Artist Maksuda Iqbal Nipa's Solo Art Exhibition in Seoul

Art NewsRezaul Haque

Artist Maksuda Iqbal Nipa's solo art exhibition inaugurated on November 7, 2016, in Seoul. 

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New Artwork by Bishwajit Goswami

One to WatchRezaul Haque

With "Enlightened," Bishwajit shows us how the way we learn the Bangla Barnamala (alphabet) is a reflection of our enlightened selves. Our learning journey begins with the Bangla Barnamala which reflects our true expressions. And in Bangladesh that childhood journey begins with a slate chalkboard. 

Bishwajit says slate is a basic tool for learning. To cover the complete learning process he uses three different surfaces. On each surface, he repeats the same letter and puts the focus on a letter in the center position using neon light. The glowing letter enhancing the spirit of our enlightened alphabet.

Anusshar, Bishorga, Chandrabindu - are the last three letters of Bangla Barnamala. They can't make any meaningful word on their own. But they always play a supporting role to create words as spiritual beings. This is how this installation is a reflection of our enlightened selves.

A First-Timer’s Guide to Dhaka Art Summit

Art NewsRezaul HaqueComment

Dhaka Art Summit returned to the heart of Dhaka this month with 300 talented artists. It’s the first time we attended the summit and we’re so excited. We’ve prepared this first timer’s guide so you know some of what to expect next time. These were Artist Trekker's must-see. 

The Dhaka Art Summit is held at the Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy, Dhaka, Bangladesh.

The Dhaka Art Summit is held at the Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy, Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Hasan Elahi, 'Thousand Little Brothers v3', 2015. 

Hasan Elahi, 'Thousand Little Brothers v3', 2015. 

The self-taught Burmese artist, Po Po describes his photography, not as a visual record. It is a means to reflect his thoughts on political, social and cultural concerns. 

In 2010, Po Po created his first “VIP Project” in Yangon, placing VIP signs in public bus stops across the city. South Asia has an entrenched “VIP Culture” where certain individuals are given preferable treatment. Even in the public sector, with special entrances in airports. Standing across the street from bus stops, Po Po took a series of photographs. He captured the reactions of people to the VIP signs. In almost all cases, the commuters saw the sign as more important than them. They yielded their seats to the signs. This demonstrated their thoughts of their place in society.

Po Po, VIP Project (Dhaka), 2014-2015. 

Po Po, VIP Project (Dhaka), 2014-2015. 

Dhaka Art Summit 2016 introduced a historical section called "Rewind." This highlighted practices of South Asian artists active before 1980.

"Soul Searching" considers where modern Bangladeshi art started. Influenced by Zainul Abedin, S.M. Sultan, Qamrul Hassan and Safiuddin Ahmed. To discover their own identities, they relied on the cultural heritage of Bangladesh. The river was Zainul Abedin's muse. S.M. Sultan’s artistic search took him to the remote village of Narail. Qamrul Hassan discovered himself as a folk painter.

In this exhibit 50 Bangladeshi artists consider the last generation’s approach to discover themselves. 

Inside Ranjit Das' Studio

Inside the StudioRezaul HaqueComment

One of the most exciting ways to discover new artists is to see them in action inside their studios. To help you get to know the many talented artists on Artist Trekker, we invite you to preview their works-in-progress, learn about what inspires them, and see their work hanging on their studio walls or in recent exhibitions.

Ranjit Das

Before Artist Trekker was a twinkle in our eyes, we collected art. We flew 21 hours each way to South Asia with our prized purchase under our arms. One such painting was by the artist Ranjit Das. We both own one and we both consider it one of our prized possessions.

Das is one of the most influential contemporary painters in Bangladesh. His art is easily recognized; a straight line or bar across his canvas has become his personal hallmark.

How to Choose Art for the Office

Design InspirationRezaul HaqueComment

Your company has moved into a new office. Congratulations! You have the perfect office space—well, almost. You notice the walls are still bare. No worries, these days you can select art that will fit your company's personality without costing you a fortune.

Original art with a contemporary edge can give the office the lift it needs to create a well-balanced work environment, offering that all-important polish and making it stand out. To select that perfect piece of art, think about the image you want to project and consider the following:

  • Do you want the art to blend in with your environment or do you want people to walk in and notice the art?
  • What kind of art pleases you, your colleagues and the people with whom you do business?
  • Keep an open mind; the type of work that will be the best fit may surprise you. You may think that you want a traditional landscape but end up liking an edgy abstract.

As for the art itself, learn the differences between the mediums, such as oil, acrylic, and watercolor.

  • Oil is a natural medium, rich in color and with a smooth texture out of the tube. It's a slow-drying paint.
  • Acrylic is fast-drying paint made from plastic. It's diluted using water but becomes water-resistant when dry. Depending on how diluted or modified with acrylic gels or pastes the paint is, the finished acrylic painting can resemble a watercolor or an oil painting or have its own unique characteristics.
  • Watercolor is generally applied to paper. It's usually transparent and allows light to show from the surface of the paper, creating a luminous effect.

The next time you're at an office, notice the environment. Ask yourself, what does this office tell me about this company?

The First Time I Saw Art

Guest StoryRezaul HaqueComment

The first time I saw art up close and personal was when I was 12 and my mother brought home two Quamrul Hassan’s (oils) and an unframed watercolor she said he (the artist, Quamrul Hassan!!!) had just given her (“tor jeta pochondo hoi tui niye ja!” she quoted him as saying).

I remember being fascinated and very embarrassed, unable to look away from the pair of oils-- both of them of women with their large melon like breasts partially uncovered. I spent many a month studiously avoiding looking at the breasts (but possibly longing to) as they hung displayed to my world in my parents living room. It turns out that Quamrul Hassan was a family friend and a week after the first paintings were brought home, my mother took me to his home to meet him and look at more art. At his home and studio, I sampled the variety, depth and the generosity of Quamrul Hassan both the man and his art. He gave away paintings that today cost a fortune if you are able to find one that is, from boxes and other places in his studio—he told my mother she could pay whatever she wanted for the oils for example and I’ve heard similar stories from other family members.  His art was prolific and regular –oils of still life and women, watercolors of bucolic Bengal and etchings all intermixed, painted at various stages and times of his long and mostly not so profitable career. Incidentally, the third painting which I had paid no attention to at first, the one my mom got to pick up off of the artist’s studio floor, was in contrast to the pair with the women, a rich, vivid green watercolor of the Bangladesh landscape—expansive peridot colored fields of rice with a thatched roofed home in the distance—a bucolic and oft documented scene of rural Bengal he and many others have depicted in various forms. I do believe that globalization and trappings of the modern world where money is more important than love, true love for the art form don’t allow for the making of artists such as Quamrul Hassan anymore. Not in Bangladesh. Not anywhere.  He was as was his art, the quintessential and the foremost Bengali painter of the twentieth century, second only to Zainul Abedin.

Years later as an adult when I returned to Bangladesh and became for a brief period, the ubiquitous development worker, I got to see Quamrul Hassan’s watercolors and his oils, his inspiration if you will, “for real”. I found his art under a banyan tree next to the village mosque; in the middle of a yellow field of mustard flowers; in a village pond, silver grey in the afternoon sun-- brimming over with fish; and in the sensual if slight glimpse of a chocolate brown breast clinging to a wet cotton saree as a woman emerges from her daily bath.  There is a realness in his art and at the same time there is soul, for lack of a better word. It might be this very combination that caught my imagination at 12 and cemented my love in my 20s.

As I was writing this piece, I thought of Tagore—you cannot if you’ve had my childhood, think of Bengali art and depictions of Bengal without evoking Rabindranath Tagore. So I did the obvious. Igoogled Tagore and art.  One of the first quotes that popped up was this one-- “What is Art? It is the response of man's creative soul to the call of the Real.”

Enough said?

SJML
Guest Blogger