“The art and culture of India and Bangladesh have always been inextricably linked to each other with regard to aesthetics, historical roots and chronology. This shared history also played an important role in the development of the art of printmaking. While the two countries had a common narrative till 1947, they took a different course thereafter. ‘Celebrating India – Bangladesh Printmaking’ is a travelling exhibition that explores the dialogue which still continues among the printmakers of the two nations, creating overlaps in their individual evolutionary journeys,” says Lubna Sen, co-curator of the exhibition and founder of The Art Route, dedicated to the development of visual art.
Featuring multiple narratives, the exhibition is travelling to the city courtesy the Chandigarh Lalit Kala Akademi in collaboration with Alliance Francaise. It is an extension of a recent event in Delhi titled ‘Confluence Celebrating India Bangladesh Printmaking’. The event facilitates an engaging experience, creating multiple exposures to the various facets of the art of printmaking. On display are works of 24 contemporary printmaking artists from India and Bangladesh, with the larger objective being to create something more collectively for printmaking, promoting a deeper appreciation among the collectors, and reaching out to more people at the same time.
Co-curated by professor Nisar Hossain (Dean, Faculty of Fine Art, University of Dhaka, Bangladesh), the project is under the advisory of The Multiple Encounters, a group of printmakers that includes Ananda Moy Banerji, Dattatreya Apte, Kavita Nayar, Moti Zharotia and Sushanta Guha.
A member of the advisory committee, printmaker Ananda Moy Banerji, says, “In 2017, Multiple Encounters organised a show featuring prints by 65 Indian artists in Dhaka. Shared history, sensibilities and similarities in cultural backgrounds are reflected in the contemporary practices of both India and Bangladesh, which culminated in an exhibition of prints from India as a collaborative effort with the Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy. Our Bangladesh experience was overwhelming, with rich cultural experiences, artistic activities and the warm hospitality extended to us. To reciprocate, we thought of a joint exhibition and collaborative activities for artists from India and Bangladesh, resulting in this venture.”
Printmaking in Bangladesh, notes Hossain, is profoundly enriched by the contributions of several internationally acclaimed Bangladeshi artists who have carved a niche for themselves in the global art world. “We are fortunate to inherit an aesthetic that is an amalgamation of the West, the Far East and our own heritage. Several talented upcoming artists have extended the dialogue further through their inquiry into the medium. The show will give the viewers an opportunity to witness this eclectic mix that defines printmaking in Bangladesh today,” he says.
In the exhibition, we see, among others, works that depict nature, life, everyday realities and the artists’ observations. If Ajit Seal’s works depict the bond shared by humanity, Ananda Moy Banerji looks closely at the structures of society and the individual. Anant Nikam’s Beyond Faith discusses the known. Bangladeshi artist Anisuzzaman’s prints are closely related to geometrical and structural elements which depict the artist’s passion for the language of architecture, while Mahmudul Haque creates works that are realistic, semi-abstract and abstract. After staying in Spain for 50 years, Monirul Islam returned to Bangladesh and believes that art is about reproducing his thoughts. Moti Zharotia’s works are based on the theme of ‘Purusha and Prakriti’, the central idea being the compatibility between masculine and feminine energies.
The creative motivation of a printmaker is not just the final output, it is also the process. This show is about acknowledging the journey of a printmaker and honouring the labour that goes into making that impression on paper and other surfaces – the pain and pleasure of it. “Few other mediums have gone through such a remarkable evolution as printmaking – in its utility, technique, experimentation and individual expression. To enhance the perception of the medium, it is imperative that we build larger narratives that allow printmaking practitioners from different parts of the world to come together. We hope to travel with the exhibition across India,” adds Sen.