For most of 2020, the coronavirus outbreak halted the activities of art galleries and event spaces. Although galleries across the world quickly turned to digital avenues, the artist community in Bangladesh picked up pace slowly. After several months of inactivity, galleries in the country came out of hibernation, with stringent precautions. Aiming to adapt to the new normal, these spaces got ready to welcome visitors. Here are some key moments from the art scene in Bangladesh that made headlines this year.
Prachi Protichi's 'Calling of the Roots'
The art forms that showcase Bangladesh and India's shared legacy deserve celebration. Bearing that in mind, Prachi Protichi, an Indo-Bangla cultural organisation, arranged the group art exhibition, Calling of the Roots, at Zainul Gallery, Faculty of Fine Art (FFA), University of Dhaka (DU), in collaboration with the Department of Drawing and Painting, FFA, DU. Eminent Bangladeshi artist Rafiqun Nabi inaugurated the exhibition as the chief guest on January 8. Renowned artist Professor Jamal Ahmed, the President of Bangladesh Charushilpi Sangsad, attended the occasion as the special guest.
Galleri Kaya's group exhibition '7'
A group art exhibition by 7 eminent artists -- Alokesh Ghosh, Shahabuddin Ahmed, Chandra Shekhar Dey, Mohammad Eunus, Jamal Ahmed, Ranjit Das and Ahmed Shamsuddoha, was arranged at Galleri Kaya, Uttara. The exhibition, titled 7, was opened on January 24. A selection of 51 artworks on diverse media, including oil, acrylic, watercolour, lithograph, ink, charcoal, pastel and mixed media were on display at the exhibition.
BSA confers the Sultan Swarna Padak 2020 to Dr Farida Zaman
Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy (BSA) conferred the Sultan Swarna Padak 2020 to renowned artist Dr Farida Zaman at Sultan Mancha, Narail, on January 27. State Minister for Local Government, Rural Development and Co-operatives Swapan Bhattacharjee handed over the award to the artist for her outstanding contributions to Bangladeshi art. The Sultan Swarna Padak named after legendary artist SM Sultan, is a prestigious award conferred every year on a renowned Bangladeshi artist by BSA on the birth anniversary of master artist SM Sultan.
Shilpangan's 'Three Worlds'
A group art exhibition, titled 'Tribhuban' (Three Worlds), was arranged at Shilpangan Gallery in Lalmatia, Dhaka. Featuring works of three noted artists -- Karu Titas, Bipul Shah and Mahmudur Rahman Dipon, the exhibition showcased vast landscapes, seizing the contemporary time and experience and a lyrical depicting abstract imagery. Their creative efforts fostered a sense of liberated creativity, as a result of being in close proximity to nature.
Art Festival 2020, Nilphamari
The four-day event, 'Art Festival 2020, Nilphamari' took place from February 26 to 29. The prime purpose of the arrangement was to introduce a healthy culture against the backdrop of poor taste, from cities to the remote countryside of Bangladesh. The art festival aimed to inspire artists to create innovative artworks, in a quiet place beyond the chaotic city life. Renowned artists from home and abroad, shared their experiences and views on art with school students during the event.
Dhaka Art Summit 2020
The Dhaka Art Summit: Seismic Movements (DAS 2020), organised by Samdani Art Foundation (SAF) in association with the Ministry of Cultural Affairs and Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy, was arranged from February 7 to 15 at Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy.
Envisioned by Rajeeb and Nadia Samdani, the co-founders of SAF, along with Diana Campbell Betancourt, the Chief Curator of DAS 2020, the summit provided art lovers with a rare opportunity to experience different forms of art from all around the world under one roof.
Soma Surovi Jannat wins the Samdani Art Award 2020
Promising artist Soma Surovi Jannat won the Samdani Art Award at the Dhaka Art Summit 2020 (DAS 2020), this year. Curated by Philippe Pirotte, in partnership with Goethe Institut (Bangladesh) and Delfina Foundation (UK), the award was presented by Nasrul Hamid Bipu, State Minister for the Ministry of Power, Entergy and Mineral Resources, during a ceremony at the Crystal Ballroom and Gardens of the Intercontinental Hotel.
Kibria International Print Fair 2020
The 9th edition of Kibria International Print Fair, which began on February 13, concluded on February 15, at Zainul Gallery, Faculty of Fine Art, University of Dhaka. Kibria International Print Fair Organising Committee and Kibria Printmaking Studio jointly organised the fair as a tribute to the abstract art master and eminent printmaker Mohammad Kibria.
Group exhibition 'Impression of Nature'
A group exhibition, titled Impression of Nature, was arranged at Zainul Gallery, University of Dhaka. Outdoor Community organised the exhibition, featuring 21 painters, who, in protest of global warming, portrayed different facets of nature. The six-day event concluded on February 22. Deneb Zeenat Latif, Managing Director of Magnum Management Consulting Limited, inaugurated the show on February 17.
Group exhibition 'Parampara'
The group art exhibition Parampara was arranged at Gallery Chitrak. Prominent artist Mustafa Monwar inaugurated the exhibition as the chief guest. The exhibition featured exquisite artworks of Rasidun Nabi, and his three sons -- celebrated artist Rafiqun Nabi, eminent photographer Tauhidun Nabi, and famous artist Rezaun Nabi along with his daughter-in-law, artist Sohana Shahreen.
Professor Razia Sultana Khan's exhibition 'Of Woman Born'
Professor Razia Sultana Khan's solo painting exhibition, Of Woman Born, was arranged at Zainul Gallery-2, Faculty of Fine Art, University of Dhaka. Mojibur Rahman, President, Dhaka University Sculpture Alumni Association, inaugurated the exhibition as the chief guest on February 24. Dr Niaz Zaman, former Professor of DU, and Alamgir Kabir, Convener, Different Strokes, were present as special guests.
Sheikh Afzal Hossain's group exhibition 'Swajanghati Rekha'
Under the title of Swajanghati Rekha, Sheikh Afzal Hossain's solo art exhibition was arranged at Kala Kendra, Iqbal Road, Dhaka. Eminent artists Professor Rafiqun Nabi and Professor Shishir Bhattacharjee inaugurated the exhibition on February 21.
Tarek Amin's solo exhibition 'Time & Reality'
Promising artist Ruhul Amin Tarek's first solo exhibition, Time & Reality, was arranged at Galleri Kaya in Uttara, from March 6. Atiqul Islam, Mayor, Dhaka North City Corporation, inaugurated the show. Eminent artist Professor Jamal Ahmed graced the inaugural ceremony as the special guest. The exhibition showcased a selection of 62 works done in woodcut print, lithograph, etching, aquatint, dry point, ink pen, pencil and mixed media on paper.
Bangladesh Art Week celebrates womanhood
Bangladesh Art Week (BAW) celebrated womanhood through a unique exhibition, titled 'Ora Egaro Jon', at Dhaka Gallery, Banani. Featuring a female-led group art exhibition, BAW Women 2020, was open for all till March 14. The exhibition was a revolutionary foray in the field of creativity, for which, Bangladesh Art Week's Founder Niharika Momtaz and Co-founder Mohammed Mohsin supported all the activities on their organisation's behalf. Prominent and promising artists, including Farida Zaman, Ivy Zaman, Dilara Begum Jolly, Rokeya Sultana, Kanak Chanpa Chakma, Preema Nazia Andaleeb, Ayesha Sultana, Tasneem Tariq, Salma Abedin Prithi, Farzana Haque and Rumana Rahman, are showcased their artworks, ranging from paintings to prints, architecture and sculptures to videos and performance art.
Group exhibition 'Bangladesh' marking birth centenary of Bangabandhu
Shilpangan arranged a group painting exhibition, titled 'Bangladesh', marking the birth centenary of the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Shiekh Mujibur Rahman. The exhibition showcased watercolour paintings by four promising artists who have rendered the bucolic beauty of Bangladesh into canvas.
Artists put brushes aside to help doctors
Artists decided to join the fight against the virus. Instead of papier-mâché masks or traditional clay pot painting, artists and alumni of Charukola (DU's Faculty of Fine Arts) made personal protective equipment for doctors, teachers, nurses, staff and sample collectors of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University. Engr Mainul Abedin, youngest son of Shilpacharya Zainul Abedin, initiated the project, alongside Prof Nisar Hossain, Dean of the faculty.
Shilpacharya Zainul Abedin's artwork raises funds for pandemic
Shilpacharya Zainul Abedin's youngest son, engineer Mainul Abedin, found several of those sketches from his father's sketchbook. He donated an 8.5 x 4.5 inch sketch to the Coronafine Group of the Faculty of Fine Art University of Dhaka, to raise funds for the pandemic. The historic 1970 artwork has been sold at an auction, for BDT 20 lakhs. It was collected by art collector and Chairman of Summit Group Muhammed Aziz Khan.
Gallery Cosmos' virtual art camp for coronavirus victims
Gallery Cosmos, the philanthropic wing of Bangladeshi conglomerate Cosmos Group, in association with Hidden Her Foundation, organised the country's first ever virtual art camp on June 8. In this art camp, renowned artists went live on the Gallery Cosmos page on Facebook at the same time, from their own studios. The five participating artists were Biren Shome, Mohammad Eunus, Kanak Champa Chakma, Anisuzzaman Anis and Bishwajit Goswami. Each of them worked on two paintings.
Mostafizul Haque's exhibition 'Pandemic Mood: Freedom in the days of Corona'
Chitrokola Gallery -- Bangladesh's first 3-D virtual gallery, organised a solo art exhibition, titled Pandemic Mood: Freedom in the days of Corona, by renowned artist-professor Mostafizul Haque. The artist's 35 works, done from March 20 to date, were exhibited in the gallery. 50 percent of the proceeds from the sales will be spent for the welfare of corona-affected individuals.
Online exhibition of One Minute Video Art
Artpro Art Initiative launched an online exhibition of One Minute Video Art (OMVA) 2020 during the shutdown in Dhaka, with 21 artists of 16 areas, including Bangladesh, UK, Portugal, Belgium, Afghanistan, Chile, Italy, Brazil, Netherlands, USA, Thailand, Japanese, Spain, Norway, India and South Korea. 'Borderless Lockdown' is the theme of the exhibition, which is curated by Sophia Moffa and Ashim Halder Sagor.
The exhibition aimed to raise questions on how the age of quarantine is being perceived and how has COVID-19 affected our lives.
Online 3D exhibition 'Virtual vs Real'
Chitrakala Gallery organised a group art exhibition, featuring works by several Bangladeshi contemporary artists. Eminent artist-sculptor Hamiduzzaman Khan inaugurated the online-based 3D exhibition titled, Virtual vs Real on May 10, through a live show on Facebook, YouTube and the gallery's website, simultaneously.
'Bhumi' supports rural creative communities
Durjoy Bangladesh Foundation, in collaboration with the Gidree Bawlee Foundation of Arts, launched an exclusive art project, titled 'Bhumi', to support rural creative communities during the pandemic. The project engaged 60 traditional families of craftsmen from Santal, Rajbongshi, weaver and other indigenous communities of the Thakurgaon district in Bangladesh.
Edge's online art exhibition for the fight against COVID-19
Edge, the Foundation, hosted an online charity exhibition to support those who are most affected by the coronavirus pandemic. Proceeds from the art exhibition were donated to funds for young artists, art-related charities and the homeless. The participating artists, who showcased their artworks for the benevolent cause, were Anisuzzaman, Anukul Chandra Mojumder, Hamiduzzaman Khan, Ivy Zaman, Jamal Ahmed, Kanak Chanpa Chakma, Maksuda Iqbal Nipa, Mohammad Eunus, Mohammad Iqbal, Ranjit Das, Rokeya Sultana, Shahid Kabir, Tajuddin Ahmed and Tejosh Halder Josh.
Digital collaborative project De | Real
De | Real, A digital collaborative project created by 26 multidisciplinary Bangladeshi collaborators from different parts of the globe, reflected and questioned the ethos of our new realities. Organised from July 15 to 28, this exhibition was a part of a curatorial research by Kehkasha Sabah, an Independent curator and researcher from Bangladesh.
Galleri Kaya's 16th anniversary
Celebrating the 16th anniversary of Galleri Kaya, an exclusive group exhibition by 42 modern and contemporary artists from Bangladesh and India, was arranged at their premises in Uttara, Dhaka. The inaugural ceremony of the exhibition took place on July 25. The featured artists at the event are Abdus Shakoor Shah, Aditya Basak, Ahmed Shamsuddoha, Aminul Islam, Anisuzzaman, Ashraful Hasan, Atin Basak, Azharul Islam Chanchal, Bishwajit Goswami, Chandra Bhattacharjee, Chandra Shekhar Dey, Debdas Chakraborty, Fareha Zeba, Goutam Chakraborty, Hamiduzzaman Khan, Hashem Khan, Jamal Ahmed, Jayanta Naskar, Jogen Chowdhury, Kalidas Karmakar, Kamaluddin, Kanak Chanpa Chakma, Kazi Rakib, Masuda Kazi, Mohammad Eunus, Mohammad Iqbal, Monirul Islam, Mukul Kumar Barai, Murtaja Baseer, Nagarbasi Barman, Nazlee Laila Mansur, Rafiqun Nabi, Ranjit Das, Ratan Mojumder, Samarjit Roy Choudhury, Sanat Kar, Shahabuddin Ahmed, Shahanoor Mamun, Sheikh Afzal Hossain, Shishir Bhattacharjee, Shohag Parvez and Wakilur Rahman.
King Kortobbyo's online art exhibition 'Bekar Idea'
The online art exhibition, Bekar Idea, featuring 43 artworks by 23 young and emerging artists, was organised by King Kortobbyo, in collaboration with EMK Center. Established in 2018, the main purpose of King Kortobbyo is to create works of art on contemporary issues. People viewed the exhibition from King Kortobbyo's Facebook and Instagram pages.
Duet exhibition 'Thought 2'
Thought 2, a duet art exhibition was arranged at Shilpangan Gallery in Dhanmondi, Dhaka. The exhibition, consisting of the plurality of artistic thoughts, was led by the artist couple A H Dhali Tomal and Farzana Rahman Bobby. This was their first collaborative exhibition.
Nabil Rahman's 'Water bodies'
The second solo exhibition of writer and multidimensional artist Nabil Rahman, titled Water bodies, was inaugurated on September 7 at Studio 6/6. The exhibition featured his drawings, photographs, multi-media works and installations. It reflected the artist's experiences with a diverse range of issues, such as intergenerational trauma, immigrant life, art, future of the planet, the role of artificial intelligence and spiritual discoveries, among others. Studio 6/6 and Ajo Idea Space also hosted 'Open House by Nabil Rahman' from November 27 to 29, at the weekend home by Marina Tabassum in Faydabad.
Cartoon People's 4th anniversary
Cartoon People is a community of Bangladeshi cartoonists and visual storytellers that was founded in 2016 by cartoonist Syed Rashad Imam Tanmoy. The group specialises in comics, caricatures, and cartoons. Apart from holding regular workshops and sketchbook sessions for its members, as well as for the general public, the group has also gone on to organise events related to their line of work. They celebrated their 4th anniversary this year.
BSA's month-long exhibition 'Art against Corona'
A month-long art exhibition, titled Art Against Corona, was arranged at Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy (BSA). A K Abdul Momen, Honourable Minister for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Government of the People's Republic of Bangladesh, inaugurated the exhibition as the chief guest at the National Gallery Auditorium of the academy on October 27.
Longitude Latitude 8
A month-long online art festival, 'Longitude Latitude 8,' directed and curated by Shehzad Chowdhury was arranged from October 23 to November 22. 'Longitude Latitude,' which started from 2003, is an art happening that takes on many forms—from festivals to exhibitions. This time, it took the form of an online festival for its 8th edition. Since the artworks were exhibited online, they can be viewed at any time.
Edge Gallery's 'Jolkabbo 3'
Edge Gallery hosted the third season of Jolokabbo, a group watercolour exhibition, which intended to take the audience down a unique artistic voyage through the medium. A total of 34 artists are exhibiting 120 artworks at the event. They are Alakesh Ghosh, Al-Akhir Sharkar, Anisur Rahman, Anisuzzaman, Ariful Islam, Azmeer Hossain, Biplob Chakroborty, Biren Shome, Hamiduzzaman Khan, Hasura Akter Rumky, Jamal Ahmed, Kamruzzoha, Kauser Hossain, Mintu Dey, Mohammad Eunus, Mohammad Iqbal, Mong Mong Sho, Monirul Islam, Monjur Rashid, Nabaraj Roy, Nazmul Haque Bappy, Palash Datta, Ranjit Das, Samarjit Roy Chowdhury, Shahid Kabir, Shakirunnahar Kanon, Sharmin Akter Lina, Shohag Parvez, Soikat Hossain, Sultan Ishtiaque, Swapan Chowdhury, Tamanna Tasneem Supti, Warior Rahman Sami and Zahangir Alom. The exhibition ran from November 15 till December 30.
Baseer: An Eloquent Mind
An exclusive exhibition, titled 'Baseer: An Eloquent Mind' is arranged at Quamrul Hassan Exhibition Gallery (Second Floor) of Bengal Shilpalay, Dhanmondi, Dhaka. Organised by Bengal Foundation, the exhibition, featuring nearly 70-year works of Bangladesh's pioneering painter Murtaja Baseer, was opened on October 12. The event is open to all till January 16, 2021.
Group exhibition 'Sheikh Hasina: On The Right Side of History'
The two-month long group art exhibition, titled Sheikh Hasina: On the Right Side of History, featuring 21 artists, is ongoing at Cosmos Centre in Dhaka. As part of the year-long programme to celebrate the birth centenary of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, Gallery Cosmos in collaboration with the Cosmos Atelier71 hosted an art camp supported by the Cosmos Foundation on Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, the eldest daughter of Bangabandhu. The artworks produced at the camp are being showcased at the exhibition, which will remain open till February 12, 2021.