Working remotely over the past three months, nine Bangladeshi artists have been creating artworks that reflect on the challenges and uncertainties of the global pandemic while also offering a sense of hope and optimism for the future.
Durjoy Bangladesh Foundation (DBF) announces the launch of Future of Hope, an online exhibition now available to view on DBF's website, Ocula and Artsy.
Bringing together nine Bangladeshi artists, the project presents artworks that reflect on the current challenges raised by the Covid-19 pandemic and aims to inspire a sense of hope for the future ahead. Despite the global uncertainty and dislocation brought on by the pandemic, this initiative invites both its participants and viewers to reflect critically on the moment, reimagine a more positive future, and dispel fear and anxiety through the power of art. Under the guidance of Professor Syed Manzoorul Islam and artist Shishir Bhattacharjee, the exhibition presents new works that not only reflect a wide range of aesthetic styles and mediums, from performance and video to drawing, painting and textiles, but many pieces that are deeply concerned with timely and critical socio-political issues, such as the Black Lives Matter movement and the threat of climate change.
Working from Brooklyn, New York, Bipasha Hayat considers the Black Lives Matter protests through the lens of the timeless fight for freedom, equal human rights, and justice throughout history. Through intricate stone impressions, Hayat remind us of the importance of this daily struggle towards a better future for all. Sujan Chowdhury incorporates birdcages as a metaphor for the mental and physical confinements brought about by the pandemic. By painting scenes of daily life on the lines of the birdcage, the artist suggests that we possess the power and ability to overcome these restrictions. Observing from the Chittagong Hill Tracts of Bangladesh, Joydeb Roaja presents satirical sketches and a video work that question the authenticity of foreign relief aid in less developed areas.
Drawing a connection between past and present, Kamrun Samadi returns to a familiar object in many Bangladeshi homes in an embroidered quilt that serves as a complex portrait, combining floral motifs and everyday domestic items as well as symbols reflecting the current moment. Hlubaishu Chowdhuri rediscovers her own childhood working with local children in the rural areas of the Chittagong Hill Tracts using materials such as leaves, branches and other debris foraged from the woods, while also reducing anxiety caused by the pandemic among the community. Zakir Salam draws on elements found in the decorative arts of Japan, where the artist has been based for many years, and explores the classic motif of hands to reflect on the idea of unity, even when we are encouraged to avoid physical touch.
Many of the artists have drawn on nature as a source of inspiration to invoke a sense of peace, renewal, and stillness during these troubling times. Using the technique of hot wax or encaustic painting, Imtiaj Shohag celebrates the vibrance of his surrounding nature, contrasting with the unusually quiet streets in his hometown of Paris. Based between China and Bangladesh, Mong Mong Sho combines elements drawn from Chinese watercolors to revisit childhood memories of the sea in vibrant paintings that celebrate the songs and colors of fishermen at work. Lastly, MD Tokon extends his signature lyrical style in a new series of paintings or 'mindscapes' that bring together the ocean, the forest and the sky, and in so doing, he encourages the viewer to reflect on his/her own relationship with the natural world.
'DBF is proud to continue our work supporting artists. We are inspired by the exhibition's collective message of optimism and joy,' comments Durjoy Rahman, Founder of Durjoy Bangladesh Foundation. 'We hope that audiences will also experience the powerful sense of hope in these works and embolden them to engage and reimagine a more positive future.'
'Although they are dispersed around the world with widely differing practices and backgrounds, these nine participants share a common conviction that artists can be real change makers,' comments Professor Syed Manzoorul Islam, Counselor for Future of Hope. 'The pandemic has highlighted how social issues are central in our efforts to reimagine the future and the power of art to be a part of that movement.'
'Despite different time zones, distances and schedules, we have joined together to collaborate and articulate what the meaning of the phrase "Future of Hope" might mean during this uncertain time. The creative endeavours of the artists involved have been very encouraging in renewing my own optimism. Being involved in this collective journey and experiencing the wide-ranging imagination of the artists' ideas and visions has been genuinely delightful and awe-inspiring,' comments Professor Shishir Bhattacharjee, Mentor for Future of Hope.
Press release courtesy Durjoy Bangladesh Foundation.