Early Strokes


Appreciating art is often a matter of aesthetics, of combining instinct with acquired taste.

Appreciating art is often a matter of aesthetics, of combining instinct with acquired taste. Nadia Samdani, CEO of the Dhaka-based Samdani Art Foundation, shaped her instincts under her father Khalilur Rahman Choudhury, a prominent Bangladeshi industrialist. Born in Britain, where the family lived for a while, conversations at meal times and social gatherings would often revolve around the new show at the local art gallery, or on the merits of artists from across the border, in India. There was a sizeable art collection at home, and family favourites ranged from the Tagores to Pablo Picasso. At 22, when she started her own collection, Nadia already had a finger on the pulse of the contemporary global art scene.

Eight years later, as she organised the first Dhaka Art Summit (DAS) recently held in Bangladesh, it was this experience that Nadia and her husband Rajeeb, also an art aficionado, relied upon. Formatted on the lines of the very successful India Art Summit, the four-day event, held in Dhaka in collaboration with the Bangladesh National Museum and Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy (National Academy of Fine and Performing Arts), differed only in focus. It pivoted on local art, with 19 galleries and 249 Bangladeshi artists participating in the fair. Amin Jaffer, international director of Asian Art at auction house Christie's and Maithili Parekh, director, business development, India at Sotheby's, put in an appearance, as did representatives from London's Tate Museum and Indian galleries and artists. "It's an interesting time to look at art in south Asia, particularly after India's flourish in the last two decades. Bangladesh has a very unique artistic milieu, but not much is known about it in the hue and cry over its poverty and over population. The time's ripe to look at the market and assess its potential, just when the opportunities are beginning to roll in," says Nadia.

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