Self-taught artist Alia Kamal believes in seeking opportunities. Alia did not receive much formal training in the arts but was exposed to it at a young age.
She took a few art classes at Duke University, where she studied Chemistry. Nevertheless, she did not particularly enjoy science. “I liked the idea of being a scientist but while doing research work, I did not find the joy and curiosity my peers shared,” says Alia.
Alia dedicated herself to art while working at the BRAC Institute of Educational Development in 2012. Soon, she left her job to be a full-time artist. For Alia, it was a gamble that worked out. “It was terrifying at first but my family and friends really supported me and I haven't looked back since. There is uncertainty but there is so much joy,” she adds.
Alia specialises in realistic, figurative and gestural art, telling stories that she encounters. She sees the likes of Van Gogh, John Singer Sargent, SM Sultan, and Novera Ahmed as her biggest inspirations and hopes to keep challenging herself. Alia states that although gender imbalance exists, there are many emerging female artists in Bangladesh who are filling in the gaps. However, she thinks more avenues and funding for the arts are rather essential.
Mostly into oil paintings, Alia also loves painting plein air landscapes with acrylic and watercolor. She is also one of the very few in Dhaka who is exploring the idea of sculpting using papier-mâché, for which she uses pieces of wastepaper that are reinforced with cloth or other materials.
Alia began teaching a small acrylic painting class of 6 students in 2016. Now, she holds classes for both adults and children along with two-day papier-mâché sculpture workshops. Moving forward, Alia hopes to keep on learning, and have a space in Dhaka where different artists can hold workshops and discuss ideas over tea.