Showcasing the captivating techniques and storytelling behind the art of printmaking, internationally acclaimed eminent Bangladeshi artist and art maestro Professor Rokeya Sultana conducted an exclusive intaglio process softground and stencil workshop titled "Impression of Rokeya's" at Cosmos Atelier 71 in Dhaka's Malibagh.

Inaugurated on January 23, the workshop featured young and prominent artists from home and beyond - Asmita Alam Shammy, Roosevelt Benjamin, Chhobi Zulfiqar, Rifat Jahan Kanta, Farzana Rahman Bobby, Mohammad Rezwanur Rahman, Bacchu Miah Arif, Kamruzzoha, SM Ehsan and Indian artist Sukla Poddar.

The workshop also featured four guest artists - renowned painter Afrozaa Jamil Konka, eminent photojournalist-artist Nasir Ali Mamun, veteran artist and freedom fighter Biren Shome and journalist-artist Zahangir Alom - alongside participating guest artists Sam Jamil Julian, Rumessa Mailloux and Sourav Chowdhury.

"The advancement of the nation's art scene has long been a priority for Cosmos Gallery and Cosmos Atelier 71. In continuation to this, ten talented and up-and-coming artists are collaborating with Rokeya Sultana, one of the most prominent and successful Bangladeshi artists, in this unique printmaking workshop. Sukla Poddar, an Indian artist, and several other well-known painters from our art scene are participating with us in this workshop, and their combined contributions will enhance this endeavor," Tehmina Enayet, Director of Cosmos Atelier 71 and Gallery Cosmos, told Dhaka Courier.

She further said, "Hopefully through such initiatives, we can continue contributing to our Bangladeshi art scene through our Gallery Cosmos and Cosmos Atelier 71 at home and abroad, and we will continue this kind of artistic initiatives in the future."

Regarding this workshop, Rokeya Sultana said: "My guru Mohammad Kibria used to say that one cannot be an artist without willpower, and this is also true in my life. If I can contribute even a little to the art practice of these talented artists, I will consider myself successful, and I am happy to share my twenty years of teaching experience with these art-enthusiasts in this exclusive workshop, organized by Cosmos Atelier 71 and Gallery Cosmos."

Elaborating on how this workshop and Gallery Cosmos are benefiting the practice of printmaking in the country, she added, "As art spaces are not available everywhere, there isn't much work on viscosity or printmaking in general in Bangladesh, though the scenario is changing recently. When I obtained my master's degree from Santiniketan, I desperately looked for an etching press because these works needed a proper studio setting. These studios are absolutely essential for artists, but there aren't many of them in our nation; Gallery Cosmos is one of a kind in that regard."

"A country goes strong if it is rich in arts and literature, history says so. We need to improve our art industry. At the end of the day, a person seeks refuge in art, culture and literature, considering these as breathing spaces. In this regard, the initiatives of Gallery Cosmos and Cosmos Atelier 71 are continuously providing inspiration to artists, which needs to be appreciated," Rokeya Sultana told DC.

Indian artist Sukla Poddar said, "Rokeya Sultana and I studied together in Santiniketan and she is widely regarded as a prominent artist in both Bangladesh and India. Her solo exhibition was held in India last year and I came here because of her invitation. I previously visited Bangladesh but this is my maiden visit to the Cosmos Atelier 71 and Gallery Cosmos, and the way the workshop is being held in this fascinating and artistic environment is truly commendable."

Currently a Professor of Printmaking at the Dhaka University Faculty of Fine Arts, Rokeya Sultana was born in Chittagong in 1958. After graduating from the Bangladesh College of Arts and Crafts in 1980, she received a master's degree in printmaking from Visva Bharati, Santiniketan, in 1983.

She has exhibited in Poland, Germany, Morocco, Oman (Bait Al Zubair Museum), France, Iran, Egypt, Turkey, Taiwan, Nepal, Korea, Jordan, Denmark, Pakistan, India, USA - Denver, Wyoming, NY (Art Student League) - and Japan, among other countries.

Sultana is the recipient of numerous national and international scholarships and awards, including a prestigious Fullbright grant, which supported her nine-month artist's residency at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She is an influential figure in Dhaka, Santiniketan and Sydney art scenes.

Notable among the artist's awards are the Purchase Award, Somerstown Gallery, 4th Biennial, NY, USA (1992), Grand Prize in the 3rd Bharat Bhavan Print Biennale (1995), Bengal Foundation Award in the 14th National Art Exhibition (1999), Honourable Mention in the 9th Asian Art Biennale (1999), Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy Award in the National Art Exhibition (2002). In 2003, Sultana availed a French government scholarship at L'Atelier Le Couriere et Frelaut in Paris, and in 2017 she became an Artist in Residence at Open Print Studio, Toronto, Canada.

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