Bangladeshi artist Imtiaj Rasel is in the running for a prestigious art prize in Asia.

He is among 30 artists from the Asia-Pacific region who have been nominated for this year's Sovereign Asian Art Prize.

With his artwork, 'Journey by Bus', being shortlisted, Rasel is now competing with artists from India, Australia, Pakistan, Philippines, Taiwan, South Korea, Malaysia, China, Japan, Iran, Singapore, Thailand, Kyrgyzstan, Sri Lanka, Cambodia and host Hong Kong for the prize.

Rasel, an ICCR scholarship recipient, holds an MFA degree in painting from Rabindra Bharati University (2019). He went to Kolkata for higher studies after earning a bachelor's degree in painting from the Faculty of Fine Arts at Dhaka University in 2015.

"I received an email on September 18, 2020 from the Sovereign Art Foundation (SAF) about my nomination, which was sent on behalf of me by artist Tayeba Begum Lipi. After that, I applied before the October 19 deadline. The authorities informed me by email about being a finalist on February 22, 2021," he told UNB.

Using his travel experiences as a visual language, Rasel explores connections between places, culture, environment, time, and memory. Through this practice, he is instilled with a sense of wanderlust, through which new narratives are created.

On his 'Journey by Bus', Rasel told UNB, "My travels instilled in me a wanderlust, which makes me explore the landscape from a visual and research point of view. I continued observing people during those bus journeys and made instant drawings, sometimes captured photographs. Later, I painted those elements on the bus tickets."

"Here I have tried to communicate with the characteristic of the local community, society and situations," he added.

Rasel has received the Artist Grant for the Brihatta Home Art Project, Brihatta Art Foundation (2020), and the Kazi Abdul Baset Memorial Award from the Faculty of Fine Arts, University of Dhaka (2016). His artworks were exhibited at the 52nd Annual Exhibition, Birla Academy of Fine Art, Kolkata (2019); 23rd National Exhibition, Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy, Dhaka (2019), and All India Fine Art Annual Exhibition, Academy of Fine Arts, Kolkata (2018), to name a few.

The Sovereign Asian Art Prize was launched in 2003 to increase the international exposure of artists in the region while raising funds for programmes supporting disadvantaged children using expressive arts. Held annually, the prize is now recognised as the most established and prestigious annual art award in the Asia-Pacific region.

The Prize invites mid-career contemporary artists, nominated by a board of independent art professionals, to each enter up to three artworks online. A judging panel comprising world-class art experts shortlist the 30 best artworks from a range of digital images.

The shortlisted artworks are then exhibited in Hong Kong, where they are judged for a second time and voted on by the public. The judges' scores are aggregated, and a Grand Prize winner is named. The other shortlisted artworks are auctioned, and proceeds split evenly between the artists and SAF. Artists receive the same split as they would through a gallery and the artworks often fetch higher prices through the generous bidding from charity patrons.

All of these 30 shortlisted artworks for the 2021 Sovereign Asian Art Prize will be exhibited at Hong Kong's famous 9 Queen's Road Central building from May 5 to May 16, 2021.

To boost engagement and increase exposure for the artists, art admirers from all over the world are invited to cast a vote online or in-person for their favourite artwork displayed in the exhibition.

Art-admirers from Bangladesh and all over the world can vote and make Rasel the grand prize winner by visiting:

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