Ink Bangladesh 2020 is a part of a continuation project of EMK Center to showcase artworks of young and aspiring Bangladeshi artists. The illustrations on exhibit are from the global art movement Inktober, which celebrates the spirit of art throughout the month of October. This year, the exhibition was inaugurated virtually on November 18 and is available for viewers on EMK Center's website till December 1.
American artist Jake Parker initiated Inktober in 2009, as a challenge to improve his skills by developing positive drawing habits. Over the years, it has grown into a global movement, with thousands of artists participating in it every year.
This year, EMK Center received more than 500 submissions from artists across five countries, including Bangladesh, India, Germany, Canada and the USA, through an open call. 172 artists submitted their artworks and after a strict evaluation process, 100 artworks by 59 artists were selected for the event.
EMK Center has been organising the exhibition for the past two years. This year's virtual exhibition is being conducted with Kunstmatrix, a unique tool that enables artists and exhibition organisers to create three-dimensional displays of artworks. Furthermore, it helps to digitally present and manage art, and includes an augmented reality app to generate a preview of the works in any space of preference.
During the inaugural ceremony, Bishwajit Goswami, Assistant Professor Faculty of Fine Art, University of Dhaka, regarded art as an evolutionary act and form of expression during the pandemic. Subrata Das, Assistant Professor, Institute of Fine Arts, University of Chittagong, discussed the importance of participating in worldwide art movements and the impact it leaves behind, while artist Ayreen Khan, Founder of iCan Foundation, talked about art and mental well-being. Faroha Suhrawardy, Senior Program Advisor, Embassy of the United States of America, discussed the embassy's continued support to promote art and culture in Bangladesh. The ceremony ended with Aaqib Md Shatil, Program Coordinator, EMK Center, giving a tour of the virtual exhibition space.
The artworks include portraits, landscapes and abstract pieces. Artist Md Tariqul Islam Herok's illustraions depict the posters of some of Satyajit Ray's greatest works, including "Apur Sansar"and "Pather Panchali", while Fahim Intesar showcases fun cartoons on scientific findings. The artworks contrast between life in urban and rural Bangladesh by exploring the surroundings, dreams and aspirations of people. Some consist of Arabic calligraphy. There is also a portrait of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, made with various patterns and motifs.
Artists were not constrained by the Inktober prompts and many of them worked on abstract pieces. "Through my work, I tried to express the issues related to femininity. Women and nature closely resemble in terms of behaviour, rhythm and creativity," said Nihaarika Awhona Barsaat, an artist participating in the exhibition.
Although most of the illustrations followed the traditional ink on paper format, some artists experimented with bright colours. Artist Fariaz Emra asserted that the spirit of Inktober lies in developing skills, regardless of the art medium. His work depicts famine, and is dedicated to malnourished individuals across the world. The artworks present the diverse imagination of the artists, as many of them explore science-fiction, mythological characters and ominous signs.
Artist Abdul Alim Sikder regards art as a coping mechanism. The pandemic has greatly impacted our mental health and Abdul has found solace while sketching illustrations with a ball pen. Two of his sketches, including a portrait of Shilpacharya Zainul Abedin, are on display at the exhibition.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, EMK Center has organised several exhibitions through social media. The virtual medium has allowed the organisers to cross national and international borders. "In a physical exhibition, we face ordeals while connecting and collecting artworks from artists who live in other divisions of Bangladesh. In this exhibition, we have had submissions from Khulna, Sylhet, Canada and Germany. Collecting the artworks was just a matter of exchanging a few emails," shared Aisha Siddiqua, Project Assistant, EMK Center.