In the  last decade,  contemporary   art  from  Bangladesh  has  grown  tremendously  in  exposure  and   recognition across Asia and Europe. As the first  curated show of contemporary  Bangladeshi  art to  be  exhibited  in California  this  is  an opportunity  to  experience   firsthand   an   emerging form of art   that    interprets and reclaims ancient artistic traditions of  the Bengal  in today’s  context.


The inaugural show   will   feature   the work of three   acclaimed  Bangladeshi  artists:   Proshanta   Karmakar   Buddha,   Nagarbasi  Barman  and  Kalidas     Karmakar.
The  show explores  the  multifaceted   relationship  between  earth, struggle and  hope  that  is  so  central  to  the  experience  of  the  Bengal  region.   Borne   out  of  the  waters  of  the   world’s   largest  delta,  the  story  of  the  Bengal  is  the   history  of   a   people  whose  experience  of  the  sensual, subconscious and supernatural   domains  has long rested on  the precarious nature of earthly elements. Since its independence from Pakistan  in 1971, tumultuous political change and vast urbanization in Bangladesh  have  slowly  replaced the  whims of   nature  as  the most   influential  forces   of change across this historically   agrarian landscape. These new  transformations have urged the people to contemplate their spirituality and subconscious   in   new ways, to  reflect on  the current state of  their lives and their potential for the future, and to  achieve a new serenity— a    new perspective  that    is  fresh  and  full of hope, on their  position  and  role in a globalized   world.


The works of the artists  present different faces of  the  Bengali  psyche, reflecting both the subliminal   experience   of  dreams   and  other   layers   of   the   human subconsious (our fears, fantasies,  spiritual   and    moral   beliefs), as well as the dynamism of human exchange with the  outside world, including  government, healthcare, village and family structure, and  the environment. For instance, in Nagarbasi’s intricate etchings of the day’s catch, one feels the struggle and bewilderment of  fisherman searching for change. It is this very equilibrium that is conveyed in Kalidas’ mixed media   creations,  as  he uses   mud  and stone to create symbolic  representations of the relationship between struggle and hope, and the interdependence  of chaos   and  order in   nature,  civilization   and   the human psyche. Proshanta  depicts   a  poetic simplicity in  his  silk screen prints,   recasting   familiar images   of   Bangladesh   in a fresh and uncluttered aesthetic, as subtle reference to  an emerging place,  people    and identity. Together, the works of these      three artists communicate the complex  narratives of  a  society  in  flux — of a changing     identity  that  is embracing  modernity  while  staying  rooted  in  the  earth    that   gives   it  life.


The works on  display  range  from    midsized  etchings, silk  screen  prints  and  mixed  media on  handmade, Japanese Washi paper,   to  large-­scale oil and acrylic paintings on canvas. The diversity of medium, style and inspiration offers a  small taste of the rich and  multidimensional   contemporary art of Bangladesh, and  of  the soul and imagination of its  artists.

Opening reception, June  7, 5:30-7:30 p.m.
June 7-17, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. SOMArts, 934    Brannan Street, San Francisco.

Vandana Kumar is a publishing executive with a 35-year track record in the industry. She leads the India Currents Foundation as President and CEO. As a new immigrant, she co-founded India Currents magazine...