A Digital Gypsy
With more than 1000 artworks, artist Najib Tareque is striving to take our traditional art to a large scale market through his online venture titled 'Art Makes Us Human'.
This first of its kind online project in the country is Tareque's attempt to boost our willingness to explore and discover art around us. Tareque believes that in today's world enjoying a piece of art or even an entire exhibition should be just a click away. In our opinion, these kinds of exhibitions will surely allow art lovers the opportunity to get a more intimate view of different forms of art. "We should utilise the vastness and availability of online media as a platform," says Tareque.
This 10-day online art project, which began on May 15, includes both a physical exhibition, currently being held at Studio 6/6 in the city's Mohammadpur area, and a digital version on Instagram, where more than 1000 artworks have been posted under the title.
Tareque always played with the idea of having an online art gallery, even in the late nineties when organising online exhibitions or having an online gallery could have been seen as an absurd concept to many. But he never stopped believing in the idea that we don't need a physical gallery or corporate sponsors to promote art. With such a goal in mind, Tareque became one of the founding members of Jolrong, one of the first online art galleries in South Asia.
"The series is part of a conceptual art project which brings forward a notion that remains invisible to us as of yet," says his daughter, Taiara Farhana Tareque, who also works as a curator of this exhibition. "The artist used many of his previously drawn illustrations for various books, newspapers and magazines. With illustrations surrounding our everyday lives, art really does seem to make us human. Images which shape our very existence are profoundly invisible with elements which stick to our brain and make us who we are."
Tareque has had quite an illustrious life as an artist. After graduating from the Institute of Fine Arts, Dhaka University, he became the former chief artist of both Daily Jugantor and Daily Janakantha. The artist was also the former Brand Marketing Consultant of Standard Chartered Bank. Since 1987, he has been part of various group and solo exhibitions both in the country and abroad. Among his solo exhibitions, a few were purely online based.
He felt that his compiled work needed to be under a single umbrella. Thus prodding him to choose the online medium.
But what could seem ironic is that someone who initially did not approve of the idea of even owning a smartphone is conducting such a large scale project by using the social media platform.
"I was always kind of against jumping on the smart phone bandwaggon," he says. "I always had a basic phone with simple features – if my phone has the call and text options, I am good to go."
But that changed when one of his friends gifted him a smartphone last year. In the beginning, he was a little reluctant to use it. However, gradually, he began to feel comfortable operating Facebook on his phone, and posting pictures online. "Seeing my interest in sharing pictures, my daughter introduced me to Instagram and showed me how this platform could be used to display my artwork."
What is he planning next?
"I have two to three projects in my mind, it will take another few years to upload all of them online," he says with a laugh, reflecting on the amount of artwork he has created over the years.
On a concluding note, Tareque stresses that he believes that with the help of the online media, the need for sponsors to fund art could slowly become obsolete. "I don't know why we have to run to sponsors to fund our work so that we can exhibit them, when we already have such a big platform surrounding us. An artist's duty is to take art to its admirer, and reach as many people as possible. Through this exhibition, I have been attempting to do just that."