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. www.alluvialarts.com.