The Dhaka Art Summit which took place between 12-15 April 2012 in Dhaka (Bangladesh) was the country’s first large scale initiative to showcase artists in Bangladesh. This event was organized and supported by the Samdani Art Foundation.
The DAS included major curated exhibitions including a general exhibition at the Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy showcasing art practices across mediums including painting, sculpture, photography, printmaking, installation, and performance art; over 249 artists were showcased from across Bangladesh (shortlisted by the DAS Selection Committee) including emerging artists as well as internationally acclaimed Bangladeshi artists such as Zainul Abedin, Shahabuddin Ahmed, Naeem Mohaiemen, Mahbubur Rahman, Tayeba Begum Lipi, and more. As part of Dhaka Art Summit the Bangladesh National Museum held an exhibition of Bangladeshi Modern Masters, and the highly regarded independent artist space Britto Arts Trust curated an exhibition of contemporary Bangladeshi art. Dhaka Art Summit also included several other exhibitions around the city, and private receptions for collectors.
The DAS also introduced the Samdani Artist Development Award and the Samdani Young Talent Award. The winners were selected by an international jury panel which included Deepak Ananth, Professor at the Ecole des Beaux Arts Paris, Elaine W Ng, Editor & Publisher of Art Asia Pacific, Kyla McDonald, Asst. Curator of International Art at Tate Modern Museum, Ravinder Reddy, renowned Indian Artist, Bose Krishnamachari, founder of Kochi Biennale and Shahabuddin Ahmed, one of Bangladesh’s leading artists. Khaled Hasan was the winner of the Samdani Artist Development Award and Musrat Reazi was the winner of the Samdani Young Talent Award.
The programme of talks was attended by over 500 people and speakers included Dr. Amin Jaffer, International Director of Asian Art at Christie's, Deepak Ananth, Professor at the Ecole des Beaux Arts, Paris, Dr. Deepanjana Klein, Specialist in the Modern Contemporary South Asian Art Department at Christies, Elaine W. Ng, Editor & Publisher of Art Asia Pacific, Fabio Rossi, Director of Rossi & Rossi Gallery, Kyla McDonald, Asst. Curator of International Art at Tate Modern Museum, Prateek Raja, Founder and director of Experimenter Gallery, Rashid Rana, renowned contemporary artist, Dr. Shahidul Alam, Founder of Drik and photographer,Tayeba Begum Lipi, artist and Founder- Trustees of Britto Arts Trust, Yamini Mehta, Specialist and Head of Modern and Contemporary Indian Art at Christie’s.
The sessions focused on key issues in the development of the Bangladeshi art scene including:
- The importance of sustaining independent art spaces such as Britto Art Trust and DRIK in the development of Bangladeshi art.
- The role private collectors and foundations in the absence of infrastructure and support for the arts from the government.
- The importance of art criticism and a high quality of writing and discourse around art.
The 4 day event was visited by over 50,000 people at the Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy including students, artists, collectors, art enthusiasts and the general public from across Bangladesh, as well as several international curators, collectors, auction houses, museums, galleries, artists, and international press. The Bangladesh National Museum sold 20,000 tickets to visitors during the Dhaka Art Summit.
Nadia Samdani(Founder and Director of the Dhaka Art Summit and Trustee of the Samdani Art Foundation) : The Dhaka Art Summit is a new beginning for cultural dialogues between Bangladesh and the rest of the world. There are diverse art practices being seen in the country and many younger and emerging artists are producing more informed, cutting edge work in a range of mediums including Video, Sound, Installations, Digital Art, Photography and Performance Art . We have received a great response this year from the art community and the general public, and Dhaka Art Summit is set to be a bi-annual event in Bangladesh. We will also be supporting other South Asian art initiatives later this year, and in early 2013 through the Samdani Art Foundation.
Prateek Raja(Founder and Director of Experimenter Gallery in Kolkata): The Dhaka Art Summit was a refreshing change to the regular art fairs or biennales or survey shows…it was a crossover between all these kinds of formats. Despite the lack of infrastructural support, mounting an event of this scale was truly momentous for the Bangladeshi scene.
Kyla McDonald(Assistant Curator of International Art at Tate Modern): As a starting point the Dhaka Art Summit has made great head-way in opening up Bangladesh's art scene to a wider international audience. The passion and commitment shown by Nadia and Rajeeb Samdani and their team will enable the summit to evolve and grow over the coming years. Many of the artist's are still young in their development and understanding of a wider international art scene but this summit has given them a platform for further development and engagement with a wider audience.