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.
It was followed by the grand opening of the DAS 2020, at the National Art Gallery of Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy on February 7. The international jury for the programme was chaired by Aaron Cezar, Director, Delfina Foundation, with Adrián Villar Rojas (Artist), Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev (Director, Castello di Rivoli), Julie Mehretu (Artist), and Eungie Joo (Curator, SF MoMA). For the first time ever, the jury gave out a special mention to Promiti Hossain for her delicate depiction of gender-based violence against women and children, engaging survivors, in the making of her installation, Personal and Social (2019-2020).
“Soma Surovi Jannat was selected for the Samdani Art Award because of her highly inventive practice of drawing, installation and painting, which is self-generative and yet socially aware. Her command of space, expanding the notion of drawing beyond the confines of the canvas and often the studio, reflects a fresh and imaginative approach to storytelling,” said Aaron Cezar, on behalf of the jury. The Samdani Art Award was envisaged by art connoisseurs and collectors Rajeeb and Nadia Samdani, the co-founders of Samdani Art Foundation (SAF).
Jannat’s award winning work, Into the Yarn, Out in the One, (2019-2020), raises the question, “How do we perceive human existence and history living in the disjoint landscape?” “The space that I have created into my work is inspired from the two-way spiral, signifying the golden section. The sacred cut is found in nature, ranging from the milky way of the galaxy to the DNA of our body cell. Different layers and shapes of the display confer to ‘Seismic Movements’, the theme of the DAS 2020,” mentions Jannat. “The audience will find a kind of primitiveness in my work – one that is pure and tells stories of our own society. The smell of soil, various organic forms and simplicity are noticeable aspects of my work.” She received an all-expenses paid six-week residency at the Delfina Foundation in London, which is a career-defining opportunity for the artist to widen her networks.
“SAF truly gave the 12 shortlisted artists full freedom. As a result, it was easy for all of us to proceed with our projects,” explains Jannat. “When it comes to idea development and allowing artists to use space and equipment, SAF provides fantastic opportunities. The National Art Gallery building of Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy is spacious and beautifully designed. Artists can make the best use of this huge space during the summit.”
Jannat completed her Bachelor’s from the Department of Drawing and Painting at DU and her Master’s in the same discipline from Visva-Bharati University, Santiniketan. “I am grateful to my teachers Shishir Bhattacharjee from DU and Sanchayan Ghosh and Soumik Nandi Majumdar from Visva-Bharati University for their support. The idyllic ambience and artistic freedom at Santiniketan also inspired me immensely,” she concludes.