Art: To celebrate the independence day of Bangladesh, a six-day art exhibition was held at the Voluntary Artists’ Studio in Thimphu (VAST).

Led by one of Bangladesh’s connoisseurs of contemporary art, Rokeya Sultana, the exhibition which concludes today, showcases the art of five other female Bangladeshi artists from the University of Dhaka.

Some of the works include Rokeya Sultana’s “Madonna series”, tapestries inspired by the folk tradition of Nabila Nabi, the trauma of the Bangladesh liberation war by Rashida Akter and the childhood memories of Akhinoor Binte Ali to name a few.

Also a professor at the University of Dhaka, Rokeya Sultana, said this is the first women artist group from Bangladesh showcasing their work in Bhutan.

“We are happy that we are given this chance to show our art works to Bhutanese audience,” Rokeya Sultana said.

Although contemporary art is fairly a new concept in Bhutan, there are plenty of talented young artists at VAST, Rokeya Sultana said. “Such platforms are important for artisans to be able to interact and share ideas with each other,” she added. “I hope many young Bhutanese artists will come to study art in Bangladesh.”

Rokeya Sultana is a recipient of many international grants and awards, including a Fulbright research award and a French government grant.

Rokeya Sultana rose to fame two decades ago with her “Madonna series”, a collection of colourful paintings depicting the ordinary life of a mother and daughter in Dhaka – sometimes squeezed in a bus, hopping on a rickshaw or being drenched in rain, facing life on her own terms.

Like Madonna, Rokeya Sultana also creates various opportunities for young budding artists in Bangladesh teaming up with galleries and organising various art festivals in Bangladesh.

“This is a start in Bhutan and we hope that we can create many new opportunities for young Bhutanese artists as well,” she said.

Founder of VAST, Azha Karma, said such exposure is important for young Bhutanese artists to improve on their skills.

“Through this initiative, we are trying to revive scholarship programmes for young Bhutanese artists as well,” he said. “We hope that through such programmes we will be able to send at least two Bhutanese students to study in Bangladesh every year.”

Such exhibitions are important since it gives a platform for young artists to create new artistic connections, share knowledge and learn new skills, Azha Karma added.

Embassies of the two countries aided to organise the exhibition.

Thinley Zangmo