The long-awaited 6th edition of Dhaka Art Summit (DAS) was inaugurated on Friday at the National Art Gallery of Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy (BSA) in the capital.

This marks the return of the summit which is regarded as Bangladesh and South Asian region's biggest art and painting biennale exhibition platform, after three years of hiatus due to Covid-19 pandemic.

Prime minister's private sector and investment adviser Salman F Rahman inaugurated the nine-day Dhaka Art Summit (DAS) at National Art Gallery auditorium on Friday morning.

State Minister for Cultural Affairs KM Khalid, Director General of Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy Liaquat Ali Lucky, and DAS organizing committee chairman and Cosmos Foundation Honorary Advisor Emeritus Ambassador Farooq Sobhan were also present as the special guests.

Director of Dhaka Art Summit and President of Samdani Art Foundation Nadia Samdani MBE, Trustee of Dhaka Art Summit and Samdani Art Foundation Rajeeb Samdani, and Managing Director and CEO of Golden Harvest Agro Industries Limited Mohammad Saker Shamim also joined the inauguration ceremony.

Several influential personalities including Radwan Mujib Siddiq, grandson of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and trustee of Centre for Research and Information (CRI), and State Minister for Power, Energy and Mineral Resources Nasrul Hamid, among others, visited the Summit after its gala inaugural ceremony.

Chief guest Salman F Rahman said, "The theme of this year's summit is 'Bonna' (Flood), and Bangladesh has experienced several severe floods several times. The biggest flood in our country happened in 1998. Various areas of the country, including Dhaka, were submerged under water; however, the people of Bangladesh have faced those challenges and moved forward. This is the characteristic of Bengali, as we can face any challenge and move forward. The inclusion of 'Bonna' at this edition of DAS is commendable."

"In the past, we used to think of art as a paint scratch on a canvas or a sculpture, etc. However, with the advancement of digital technology and its integration of simultaneous visual and audio presentation, as well as additional presentations such as art display through laser shows, a new dimension has been introduced to the visitors and admirers," he added.

State Minister KM Khalid said, "Due to the global pandemic, we could not be involved much in cultural activities for the last two years. It's being organized in full swing again, it's definitely a joy. The main theme of today's summit is 'Flood'. Also the six seasons of Bangladesh are presented in a very enthralling and charming way."

Lauding the organisers, Khalid said, "Nadia Samdani and Rajeeb Samdani have been organizing this summit since 2012. I express my gratitude and thanks to them, and the Samdani Art Foundation. In the future, the Ministry of Cultural Affairs will always support any beautiful event like the Dhaka Art Summit."

The nine-day-long summit is showcasing several workshops, performances, seminars and diverse exhibitions with the participation of renowned art critics and art collectors from home and abroad, with a vibrant panel of over 160 local and international artists. Topics like climate change and gender relations will be a key focus of this year's event.

Since 2012, the Dhaka Art Summit has been organized by the Samdani Art Foundation to provide visitors with the chance to view the various works of renowned and up-and-coming artists from across the globe. Every two years, the institute hosts the Dhaka Art Summit at Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy.

The Dhaka Art Summit's last edition took place in 2020. The exhibition was then postponed for two years because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

At the 6th Dhaka Art Summit, "Bonna (flood)" has been presented in a new way; Questions that challenge traditional binary thinking and non-necessity, reconstruction and disaster, children and adults, women and men. The intricate significance of these interactions was captured in the minds of artists.

"The theme of the 2023 Dhaka Art Summit is 'Bonna' (flood). In riverine Bangladesh, 'Bonna (flood)' is not just a name for disaster but a lot more, hence young girls are named 'Bonna' (flood). At this year's DAS, 'Bonna' (flood) will be presented through the character of a young girl, in a different way: with questions that go against conventional binary thinking about necessity and non-necessity, recovery from disaster and reconstruction, kids and adults, women and men, and more. The participating artists' exhibitions will reveal the full significance of this connection," Rajeeb Samndani told UNB.

Artists participating in the 6th edition of the Art Summit include - Sumaiya Vali, Antony Gromley, Asfika Rahman, Vinodbihari Mukherjee, Bhasha Chakraborty, Chitraprasad, Daniel Boyd, Damasus Hacha, Faisal Zaman, Ganesh Paini, Ghazaleh Avarzamani, Habik Chuhen, Habiba Nowroz, Jamal Ahmed, Jaydeb Roaja, Jani Rusika, Kabir Ahmed Masum Chishti, Kamruzzaman Swadhan, Lala Rukh, Lapdiang Saiyem, Marina Perez Simao, Nabil Ahmed, Nazmun Nahar Kaya, Paul Taburet, Rupali Gupta and Prasad Shetty, Purnima Akhtar, Rafiqun Nabi, Safiuddin Ahmed, Sahej Rahal, Tanya Goyal, Veronica Hapchenko, Yasmin Jahan Nupur, Rizvi Hasan, Ganesh Pine and others.

Cosmos Books is participating at this year's Summit for the first time, showcasing 170 of its exclusive publications. The audience response has been overwhelming on day one, according to Abu Ali Sina, stall in-charge and Marketing Lead of Cosmos Group. (Full disclosure: Cosmos Books is part of Cosmos Group, UNB's parent company)

A flagship venture by the Samdani Art Foundation, the Summit's aim is to establish a profound relationship with Bangladeshi and South Asian arts to the world and to showcase the country's artists and artistic expertise in the international arena.

The 6th edition of Dhaka Art Summit will be open to the visitors at National Art Gallery from 10 am to 8 pm till February 11.

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