Omar Khan Joy and Miti’s private collection
Barrister Omar Khan Joy and Barrister Miti Sanjana-----a gleeful couple who, in recent times have made a smash in the city by collecting quality paintings. The couple is ardent art collector. Their collections include works by contemporary Bangladeshi master painters and a number of promising Bangladeshi painters.
Art is not a material to them. The duo feel artist is a creator and they portray hopes, dreams and surroundings where we live. Artists rightfully read the people’s minds, their wants, desires and longings. They sense artists are the mirror of the society because the society’s all kinds of activities are truly reflected on their creations.
Out of profession, Omar and Miti love to travel and collect art with great passion. The couple always tries to attend the inaugurations of the exhibitions where they could usually meet artists, critics and art enthusiasts. They love to enjoy artists’ companionships, friendships and their conversations and thinking process. Through chatting, the couple gets to know the background, the philosophy of the work; insights behind the stories of the paintings and overall gets to know about their visions, values and beliefs. The couple has a great respect and true love for the artists, for their creations and art seems to them worthy of worship where they can achieve power, peace, prosperity and contemplation.
The couple likes to travel different parts of the world and have visited many art fairs, festivals and biennales. During their stay abroad, they usually meet many celebrated artists, art historians, critics and art enthusiasts. They enjoy visiting art galleries and museums in the countries they travel to, in order to get familiar with the art and the art movement of those countries.
The collectors said, “Art should not be considered as an investment but purely a hobby. We always feel that the effort involved in collecting and the pleasure of owning major works by important artists are very satisfying.”
Miti’s father Dr Monowar Jahan, was the head of Art Preservation Centre of Bangladesh National Museum. For this reason, many painters visited their house and she got the proper opportunity to closely observe and mix with them. The couple got some valuable drawings of Quamrul Hassan from Miti’s family and the rest of the pieces they have collected from artists, different sources and galleries.
Omar said, “I have been a great fan of art from my childhood. When I was a student in school, I collected art related posters. For my strong cultural background, afterwards I have become interested in collecting art.”
Among contemporary Bangladeshi painters, Quamrul Hassan’s “Tin Konnaya” is Omar’s most beloved piece and he feels that this is one of his biggest treasure troves. Murtaja Baseer’s “Bandhobi”, an oil peace is also a valuable treasure for him. He said, “Stylishness and simplicity are the prime traits of Quamrul’s paintings. He also likes Quamrul’s application of sweet colour and strong drawing based works. Baseer’s unique realistic aroma and the precise articulation of female figure make the work more lively and eye-catching.”
The couple has a number of commendable collections of Aminul Islam, Murtaja Baseer, Syed Jahangir, Nurul Islam, Rafiqun Nabi, Monirul Islam, Hamiduzzaman Khan, Anwarul Haq Peeari, Kalidas Karmakar, Abdus Shakoor Shah, Shahid Kabir, Shahabuddin Ahmed, Ranjit Das, Mohammad Eunus, Ivy Zaman, Sheikh Afzal, Mohammad Iqbal, Tarun Ghosh and others.
Among the young painters from Bangladesh, Rokonuzzaman Uzzal, Shahnoor Mamun and Rashida Akhter Boby’s artworks have also enriched their collections. The couple has some sculptures in different mediums like wood, bronze, stone and white cement. The collections of their paintings are in various mediums like oil, mixed media and acrylic. But print is very rare in their collections.
The couple has always been very interested in new ideas and contemporary culture and art have always been an important part of that. Their collections also have various sections- there is a figurative and objective section, a landscape section, pure realistic section, section of impressionist and expressionist painters, scenic beauty of the country, and an abstract or cutting edge section. They are open to new thoughts, which allow them to be interested in all avenues of creativity.
The couple happened to start collecting paintings in 2007. Ever since, the couple keeps some criteria in mind -- quality, historical and philosophical aspect of the artwork and its aesthetic value. The pair said, “As earnest collectors, we try to give a message through our efforts. We tend to explain it in this way: an artist is creating a symbol, and a collector at a certain point is taking all these and putting them together to give a new meaning; a collector is creating something novel and refreshing, while at the same time expressing himself. We ask the work of art to speak on our behalf. We also have an urge for collecting rare works which are not familiar to art aficionados. Many of the works have historical and anthropological value. We spend generously on procurement of great works of art, not for functional gain but to satisfy the internal need of the soul.”
Omar Khan mostly likes landscape, though he hosts many figurative works with his wife. He also loves to collect abstract and pure-abstraction. Miti likes both figurative and landscape. She also likes such types of paintings where one can go to details.
Omar Khan is very optimistic about Bangladeshi art. He said, “I see a bright future for Bangladesh through the many young professionals and business people who are significantly contributing in collecting and promoting the art scene. Again, the old custodians are also not looking to stay behind in the race. Combining all this I see a great boom in the art market in this country.”
Omar Khan doesn’t know when or how it even started, but he has developed a weakness. There are very few things that make him happier than a mug. He collects mugs whenever he visits abroad. Omar stated “I try to collect mug which really serves as a memento for the visit to me. It creates a new dimension. I love them and they make me so happy. I started picking up pretty mugs all over the world.”
The couple lives in a spacious and airy flat that is just right for a sizeable collection of paintings. They take time to place the paintings at adequate distances from each other. They feel proud of their art collection and they consider these paintings their most prized possessions. The couple is also close to most of the renowned Bangladeshi artists. Artists frequently visit their home and suggest where the paintings should be hanged.
When the couple started collecting paintings, their primary intention was to acquire the contemporary works of all major painters. They are always in search of new and original paintings. This is their passion. The couple has become a knowledgeable art connoisseur. They are also adept at explaining the finer nuances of paintings.
The writer is an art critic and cultural curator.