‘Art has the power to establish world peace’
Renowned British-Bangladeshi art patron Nadia Samdani has been bestowed with the title of the Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE), in Queen Elizabeth II's 2022 Birthday Honours List. This is the third highest-ranking Order of the British Empire, which Nadia has received for her prolific services to global art philanthropy and promotion of arts in Bangladesh, South Asia and the United Kingdom. Other famous holders of the title are Adele, Steven Gerrard, Ed Sheeran, Harry Kane and Rob Brydon.
In an exclusive interview with The Daily Star, Nadia Samdani shares her joy and journey of the Dhaka Art Summit (DAS), organised by Samdani Art Foundation. She also elaborates the theme of the upcoming DAS in 2023, scheduled to set sail in February next.
"I am elated to receive such a huge honour, within just a decade of launching of Dhaka Art Summit in Bangladesh. I would like to credit the dynamic members of SAF, the dedicated support of our Golden Harvest team, and of course, the inspiration and sacrifice of my family," says Nadia Samdani. "I am exhilarated that this honour comes as part of the grand celebrations for Her Majesty the Queen's 70th year of accession to reign, and her length of service and commitment is something I hope to emulate in my continuing work," she adds.
Nadia Samdani, along with her husband Rajeeb Samdani, is the co-founders of the Samdani Art Foundation She is the President of SAF and Director of DAS. The Samdanis are best known for DAS, which brings together curators, artists, scholars and arts professionals from around the world. Their works have resulted them being included in major international public institutions and collections.
"We believe in the power of art, which should be for everybody," asserts Nadia. "Over the years, DAS has been turned into a school of scholarly gatherings attracting huge levels of public engagement. It is the finest fiesta of modern and contemporary arts, fostering new cross-cultural dialogues between Bangladesh and the rest of the world."
Nadia says that the next Dhaka Art Summit will be based on 'Flood', zooming in on different aspects of climatic change in the meaningful conversations by the scholars and the artistic presentations and performances by the creative minds. "Apart from a number of global curators, several Bangladeshi curators will join hands to help artists produce quality works relaying core messages to safeguard our planet," she says. She adds that the construction of the 'Residency Space' with 'Art Centre' at the Samdani Sculpture Park will be completed by the end of the year in Sylhet.
"Art has the power to establish world peace. We should support arts and artists whatever and however we can," says Nadia. "Art and music evoke global language relaying eternal peace in our minds. I would like to excel in my works which I love most, and serve humanity. Whatever you do for your country and the world at large will remain forever!"
Nadia Samdani is a member of Tate's South Asia Acquisitions Committee, Tate's International Council, Alserkal Avenue's Programming Committee and the Delfina Foundation's International Council, and is one of the founding members of The Harvard University Lakshmi Mittal South Asia Institute's Arts Advisory Council. In 2017, with her husband Rajeeb Samdani, she was the first South Asian arts patron to receive the prestigious Montblanc de la Culture Arts Patronage Award.
The writer is a visual artist and a journalist.