Aiming to showcase the enthralling art initiatives by talented young Bangladeshi artists created during the quarantine period in COVID-19, a special exhibition titled Brihatta Home Art Project 2020 was inaugurated at Bengal Shilpalay, Dhanmondi, in the capital on Saturday.

Brihatta Art Foundation, which launched the 'Home Art Project 2020' last year to support artists continuing their artistic practice in the comfort of their own residences during the ongoing global pandemic, initiated this special three-month-long exhibition showcasing the art projects of 14 artists.

Education Minister Dr Dipu Moni inaugurated this special exhibition at the Quamrul Hassan Exhibition Hall, Bengal Shilpalay as the chief guest, while Ekushey Padak winning eminent cartoonist and art maestro Rafiqun Nabi joined the inauguration programme as the special guest, alongside Abdullah Al-Mahmud, chairman of Crystal Insurance Limited.

The ceremony was also joined by Bishwajit Goswami, artistic director of this special project, assistant professor at the Drawing and Painting Department, Faculty of Fine Art, Dhaka University and founder of Brihatta Art Foundation, Abul Khair and Luva Nahid Choudhury, chairman and director general of Bengal Foundation, Syeda Mahbuba Karim Mini, fine arts director of Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy and Sourav Chowdhury, executive artistic manager of Gallery Cosmos, among others.

"It is very refreshing and amazing to see how these talented individuals have crafted these versatile and amazing artworks, utilizing their creative brilliance, moments and patience during those unprecedented time. These magnificent pieces of artworks of these mastermind artists will surely be remembered in history, and I wish all the success to this wonderful exhibition." Dr Dipu Moni said at the event.

A 3-members board of Jury representing a wide landscape of art practice and art education in Bangladesh with a combined experience of more than 35 years, selected the grantees in this project.

The renowned Jury members are - Artist and Sculptor Alak Roy who is the founder of 'Chattogram Sculpture Center' and a retired Professor of Institute of Fine Arts, University of Chittagong; Artist and Professor Nisar Hossain, current Dean of the Faculty of Fine Arts at University of Dhaka and Artist Tayeba Begum Lipi, an internationally acclaimed new-wave contemporary artist who is a co-founder and trustee of Britto Arts Trust.

Facilitated through an open call for applicants from all over Bangladesh, the Home Art Project Jury made a final selection of 15 grantees, based on their project proposals and ideas.

The participating artists are: Abdullah Al Bashir, Aminul Islam Ashik, Ashim Halder Sagor, Dinar Sultana Putul, Jayatu Chakma, Md. Anisul Haque, Imtiaj Islam Rasel, Mojahid Musa, Niaz Uddin Ahmmed, Shimul Datta, Rakib Anwar, Shimul Saha, Soma Surovi Jannat and Sumon Wahed.

During the open call, the project received an astonishing total of 123 applications from all over Bangladesh. A unique identification code was generated for each applicant and submitted anonymously to Jury for the interview sessions. After the extensive reviews, 20 artists were selected for interviews based on the strength and relevance of their proposals, and the top 15 were then nominated in July and got announced across all social media platforms of Brihatta.

The collaborating mentors - Professor Dhali Al Mamoon from the Institute of Fine Arts, Chittagong University; visual artist Mahbubur Rahman, co-founder and trustee of Britto Arts Trust and Bishwajit Goswami mentored, assisted and collaborated with the grantees in a collective virtual space in the following months.

Bishwajit Goswami, director and mentor in the project, addressed the initiative to UNB as a "blessing in disguise".

"We are immensely happy and proud to launch this special exhibition showcasing these tremendous artworks, in the historic month of March - the month of our glorious Independence Day and the birth month of our Father of the Nation, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman," he said at the event.

Describing the project to UNB, he said, "During the unprecedented time of COVID-19 lockdown, these brilliant artists came up with their own unique ways to continue the creative journey from wherever they were residing. The 'Home Art Project 2020' by Brihatta Art Foundation not only made sure necessary assistance and knowledge to the grantees, but it also has opened up new opportunities and thrived the artists to explore new creativities. For example, some of the artists have made their own pieces of equipment including handmade papers, colours and more, which they were lacking outside of their regular workstations."

"Obligations and difficulties opened up new opportunities for us, the artists - and we had challenged the unprecedented moments through this exclusive and interesting initiative. As promised, the Brihatta art foundation launched this unique exhibition to create connectivity between the artists and the audiences who will get to know and understand how the artists have been continuing their individual creative journey and thrived during the pandemic", Bishwajit Goswami told UNB.

Curated by Bengal Arts Programme chief curator Tanzim Wahab, the exhibition will continue till June 12, every day from 3 pm to 8 pm (except for Sunday) at Bengal Shilpalay, located on the upper floor of Bengal Boi.

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