The 25th edition of the National Art Exhibition began on Sunday at Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy (BSA)'s National Art Gallery, returning to its full normalcy after being held virtually due to the Covid-19 pandemic in 2021.

Known as one of the most vividly celebrated art exhibitions of the country and one of the flagship artistic ventures of Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy (BSA) since 1975, this year's National Art Exhibition is featuring 301 artworks by 261 artists from across the country.

On Sunday evening, State Minister for Cultural Affairs KM Khalid inaugurated the exhibition as chief guest at the National Art Gallery auditorium. Independence Award-winning eminent artist Hashem Khan, artist Abdul Mannan, artist Monirul Islam and Cultural Affairs Secretary Khalil Ahmed were present as special guests at the inaugural ceremony.

BSA's Director of Fine Arts Syeda Mahbuba Karim delivered the welcome speech and the inauguration ceremony was chaired by BSA Director General Liaquat Ali Lucky, while BSA Salahuddin Ahmed delivered the vote of thanks.

"This year is culturally significant for our country, as our Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was awarded the prestigious Joliot-Curie medal on May 23, 1973, and that brings us the 50th year celebration of that honour. At the same time, we are celebrating the 25th anniversary of the prestigious National Art Exhibition, and it is overwhelming to see all these captivating artworks from the talented, majestic artists of our country," KM Khalid said at the event.

Art maestro Hashem Khan said, "As artists, we have socio-cultural responsibilities, and in today's world, our artists have a lot of opportunities to showcase their artworks. Art practice has come a long way in Bangladesh, and it is destined to flourish even better."

Spain-based expatriate popular artist Monirul Islam said, "Artworks are meant to be the messages to the society, and awards inspire the artists. There are many art galleries in the country, which are showcasing artworks of young artists, which is a sign of artistic progress in the country."

Jury member artist Abdul Mannan said, "This year we received so many quality artworks for the 25th National Art Exhibition, and it was indeed a difficult task for us to select award-winning artworks."

BSA Director General Liaquat Ali Lucky said, "Aside from the prestigious Asian Art Biennale, Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy has three flagship events - the Young Artists' Fine Arts Exhibition, the National Sculpture Exhibition and this National Art Exhibition. Through these events, Bangladesh is exploring an artistic renaissance."

In the 25th edition of the exhibition, artists across the nation submitted a total of 2914 artworks in 11 categories, namely painting, printmaking, oriental art, sculpture, crafts, ceramic, graphic design, photography, installation art, performance art and new media.

This year's exhibition features a total of 100 paintings, 39 prints, 22 photographs, 60 sculptures, 38 installations, 11 new media artworks, 10 craftworks, seven graphic design works, six ceramic works and three performance arts. Besides, the event features six curated galleries.

The selection committee consisting of eminent artists Kanak Chanpa Chakma, Ahmed Shamsuddoha, Saidul Haque, Mokhlesur Rahman, Mahabub Jamal Shamim and Mofizul Islam selected 301 artworks for the exhibition, while Monirul Islam, Abdul Mannan, Ranjit Das, Luva Nahid Choudhury, Mostafizul Haque and Tausif Ur Rahman selected the 20 award-winning artworks.

At the inaugural ceremony, guests and organisers handed over Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy Award 2023 and the best awards from nine different categories, five Honourable Mention awards and five Sponsored Awards, namely Bengal Foundation Honourable Award, Artist Kalidas Karmakar Honourable Award, Language Activist Gaziul Haque Honourable Award, Shahjalal Islami Bank Foundation Honourable Award and Artist Kazi Anowar Hossain Honourable Award.

Jesmin Akter bagged Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy Award 2023, which is the best award in all categories, for her Installation titled 'Transformation-2'. Artist Jayatu Chakma received the best award in Painting Category, Nusrat Jahan in Printmaking Category, Syed Tareq Rahman in Sculpture Category, Farhana Ferdausi in Craft Category, Ashim Halder Sagor in Ceramic Work Category, Zihad Rabby in Graphic Design Category, Mohammed Asadurjaman Aslam Molla in Photograph Category, Sajib Kumar Dey in Installation Art Category and Bangladesh Performance Art Group in Performance Art Category.

Five artists received Honourable Mention Award comprising prize money, crest and certificate. Abdus Sattar Toufiq, Naima Akhter, Raufun Nahar Ritu, Md Tariqul Islam Herok and Ashraful Hasan received the Honourable Mention Award, while artists Fareha Zeba, Anukul Chandra Mojumder, Tanvir Parvez, Mohammad Hasanur Rahman and Gobinda Pal received Sponsorship Award.

The exhibition is open to all till July 15, every day from 11 am to 8 pm and Friday from 3 pm to 8 pm.

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