Bangladesh to project its contemporary art at India Art Fair

Madhusree Chatterjee

New Delhi, Jan 12 (IANS) Bangladesh will expose Indian art lovers to its contemporary art in a move to project its soft power in the region.

"The Indian market and Indian collectors are very receptive to Bangladeshi art, an important component of South Asian soft power. We want to build awareness about Bangladeshi art among the Indian audiences and set up a mutually enriching exchange between the art communities of the two countries," Nadia Samdani, co-founder of the Dhaka-based Samdani Foundation, a leading non-profit arts and culture promotion and exchange platform, told IANS of her country's participation in the India Art Fair 2013 Feb 1-3.

The Samdani Foundation, which organises the Dhaka Art Summit, will sponsor four leading Bangladeshi artists - Mahbubur Rahman, Tayeba Begum Lipi, Ayesha Sultana and Mohammed Wahiduzzaman.

Rahman, founder of the contemporary arts umbrella Britto Trust, will challenge the conventional notion of aesthetics and ideology with his installation cast out of army boots measuring approximately 30 ft X 15 ft X 15 ft. Lipi, Sultana and Wahiduzzaman, members of the Britto Trust, address new social realities of Bangladesh and the developing world with their multi-media semi-abstract works.

The foundation, which will exhibit the works in the "not-for-sale" foreign exhibition category, will also partner the Indian Art Fair at the speakers' forum.

Explaining the importance of the India Art Fair as a South Asian art showcase, Samdani said it "has really established itself as an effective exchange and awareness forum in the five years since its founding".

"That makes it a fantastic international platform and opportunity for exposure for emerging artists, or smaller countries with less developed arts infrastructures, as is the case with Bangladesh. Indian art features in a big way in my husband Rajeeb's and my art collection, for example," Samdani said.

Samdani said her foundation was bringing an innovative selection of Bangladeshi art to India.

"All the art and artists at the Foundation's booth, as well as Mahbubur Rahman's Indian Art Fair Project, are very innovative in their choice of style and medium. In some sense, they are all responding to a similar situation, but each is utterly unique," she said.

Samdani said she was trying to establish broad linkages between the India Art Fair and Dhaka Art Summit in terms of exhibitions, brainstorming and market networks.

"The Samdani Foundation is a strictly philanthropic project, but we work to provide exposure for Bangladeshi artists on international platforms, which helps further their professional careers," she said.

The promoter said there was "limited presence of galleries in Bangladesh and those that exist only pay attention to established names.

"As a result, buyers are led to believe that's all that's out there," she said.

Samdani regretted that "young and emerging artists have little or no representation in Bangladesh, nor does more avant garde and conceptual art".

"The Samdani Art Foundation is concerned primarily with discovering and nurturing Bangladesh's undiscovered artistic talent," she said.

Besides the Samdani Foundation, the India Art Fair will open up a platform for 42 international galleries from 24 countries, including Pakistan, Israel, Argentina, Latvia, Turkey and Russia.

(Madhusree Chatterjee can be contacted at