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The Labyrinth of Art

Nazia Andaleeb Preema
The Labyrinth of Art
le bangladesh a paris - month long art festival in Paris by Bangladesh Brand Forum

The functions of Art
Art mostly helps us to understand the current world; it’s economical, political and cultural development. It deals with the most critical aspects of today’s world, be it beautiful, be it ugly. It makes us realize the facts of a social situation, its opportunities and dilemmas. An Individual artist on that premise is kind of a social activist. 

Traditions evolving in modern Art practice 
Everything evolves. Think about jeans, the blue ones, which were invented in the mid 1800s and later Levi’s took them and gave them to the mine workers – the poor people. Now after 150 years,Jeans has become a style statement for the affluent class through clever and creative branding. Some things do not necessarily fade as much as they evolve. We no longer dive for pearls, but we have introduced diving for pearls as an activity. So traditions fall to the wayside, they evolve. But there are things that will stay, because the modern generation wants to preserve the past too.

The necessity of Art being glamorous
It depends. Anything which has the potential to create an impact can be glamorous. If you see the world today, even politics or charityisglamorous, so why not art. Having said that, before being glamorous, one should know what is glamour. It is the glory of it. Any authentic, ideal practice is bound to be glamorous, be it social work, food, fashion or be it Art. 

Evergreen existence of fine art
The world has come a long way. It has transformed in many ways, so has art. Every creation hasit own way of fine artistic approach, depending on its fine parameter. We can’t deny that today food has a signature, a cloth has a signature, and signature is everywhere. Even though the fact remains that everything that has signature must be fine. Any authentic creation is fine and it is a part and parcel of fine art.

Copyright in art
When we talk about signature the issue of copyright comes by default. Without copyright, art has no authenticity. Copyright issue is one of the most critical areas for preserving art. It is highly necessary. In countries like ours copyright is one of the most ignored issues, when it needs to be a critical aspect in the artistic endeavor- ex: patenting a brand name. If copyright is not there, an art is bound to loseits authenticity. 

Exclusive art preview at Saffron Art Gallery Newyork by Contemporay Visual Artist from Bangladesh

Photo: Exclusive art preview at Saffron Art Gallery Newyork by Contemporay Visual Artist from Bangladesh

Role of artists
Artists take on many roles; witness, activist, artifact, archivist, critic, cartographer, storyteller, facilitator, trickster, dreamer and so on. It is within these myriad of positioning that practices can be found which take exactly the role performed by the artists as artist as reference. By corollary the possibilities of art to exist as an autonomous entity are probed and stretched, as is the directive power of the artist within the process. So the artist’s role is to penetrate the functional and is solely utilized as ersatz and that’s how art keeps its symbolic force.

Bangladesh in the global platform
We are a nation with lots of loopholes as we are far away from basic development. Bangladeshi artists have gone to places but that has no proper documentation. Like any other sector art also need historic indexing, research and documentation. Without these key components we lose out the credibility of existence. Without the strong local existence one cannot claim to be global. Missing links are a big no-no. Although we have a strong artistic spirit and energy, in order to make a global approach Bangladesh has to work a lot on modern education, research and therefore it has the possibility to make a strong impact in the global arena.

Not following global trends
We have numbers of Dhaka based artists only. But we believe in the local atmosphere. We are still far away from global gallery trends, because of our lack of galleries in comparison with the number of artists we have all around the country. Being an artist is easy, but to promote in strategic way is a critical task. Art is an expensive media; it needs a lot of patronization, promotion and marketing. The way local galleries are operating is not the ideal way of promoting art. Because art is a long and integrated process. So galleries need to know themission, goal and must have a very clear strategic direction to take the art and the artists to theinternational market. Recently there are few galleries who have specific agenda and approach, like some are promoting only printing; some only master painters while some only indigenous art. We need to be certain of what we want to achieve, it is the ‘purpose’ that matters when you try to promote a serious thing, like Art. When it comes to going global, the gallery should have that international approach with specific agenda. Only then they can reach the international parameter of marketing art and the art business.

A group exhibition by contemporary Bangladeshi Artist in Bengal Gallery

Photo: A group exhibition by contemporary Bangladeshi Artist at Bengal Gallery

Passion and business 
Business can be passion but passion is not bound to be business. It varies from people to people. Interestingly strong passion helps deliver the best for any business.Whether we like it or not we are now heading towards consumer driven capitalist society. May be, as a developing country we are not feeling the pressure of business in art. But eventually we will.

Eras of Bangladeshi art
Though we are a comparatively young country, we have our own regime and heritage of culture. Apart from having a very rich Bengal cultural background we have madeour way to the modern art and cultural journey of 40 years now. Bangladesh as a place got divided twice once in 1947 and then in 1971 from a unified nation, as a result we have a major displacement issue. In art, what we see today is based on a social environmentthat reflects mostly the post liberation war.  So they are new,modern and contemporary.  It is also critical to celebrate thepast heritage too. Here we only see contemporary art and very few that are influenced by historical references. So our art history as an individual, independent society is pretty much new. Our Art sector like any other segment of the nation has tremendous promise and possibilities. But to realize the potential we need to engage with our past, and search for authentic cultural heritage and blend them with the present contemporary practice to come up with something that truly rejoices the spirit of Bangladesh. 



The story was first published in INTELLECT Issue no.1, dated April 2012.

June 30, 2015
About Author

Nazia Andaleeb Preema is a Visual Artist, the Director and Curator of Bangladesh Art Forum and the Advisor/Creative editor of Bangladesh Brand Forum. 

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