Galleri Kaya: 18 years of a momentous art journey
Published : Saturday, 11 June, 2022 at 12:00 AM Count : 657
Galleri Kaya is one of the leading full-fledged art galleries in the country. The gallery plays a significant role in providing aesthetic enjoyment and cultural enrichment while promoting Bangladeshi art internationally. Apart from hosting art exhibitions regularly, the gallery helps build and preserve a network that connects fine art-related activities in Bangladesh and beyond. The gallery always maintains a framework of continuation and professionalism with great excellence. In the last 18 years, the gallery has arranged 127 art exhibitions of which 66 were solos and 61 group art expositions.
The gallery also arranged six art camps, five art workshops, twenty one art trips, three artcations, two specialised river cruises named "Art on River", and twospecial trip arranged for one particular painter titled "Moments in Art". A number of veteran Bangladeshi and internationally acclaimed artists took part in those events.
As part of its regular activities, Galleri Kaya has always invited well-known painters, critics, historians, and curators from different corners of the world. As a gallerist, Kaya's director Goutam Chakraborty has always stressed the importance of maintaining close personal ties with the artist community. Out of his untainted love for arts, he is particularly determined to bolster the prominence and recognition of the ever-growing community of established and upcoming Bangladeshi artists. Since itslaunching, Kaya's aim has been to create a cultural hub where art enthusiasts, aficionados and artists of varied generations can appreciate and interchange or learn exciting novel trends.
Goutam Chakraborty has been a devoted gallerist, art organiser and supporter for decades. He always wants both seasoned and upcoming artists to be given the opportunity to display, sell and discuss their works. The gallery's aim is to showcase the wide range of styles and techniques that are being mastered by our artists.
Kaya's art trips, art camps and art workshops really help artists to get intimate with one another. The events reach great heights by developing stronger artistic and cultural ties among the participating artists.Kaya also organises overseas art trips so that Bangladeshi artists can build a sustainable rapport with their peers abroad. When organised in the country the art trips help painters explore their creativities in a quiet place beyond the chaotic city life in a natural environment adorned with greenery and surrounded by tranquil ambiance.
The environment helps generate a bond among the artists who participate. The events focus on motivating artists by giving them space and momentum for furthering their talents on a sustainable platform. The exchanges of creative thoughts, ideas, concepts, and beliefs have accelerated flawlessly in the countrydue to the events. The artworks painters produce during Kaya's events may differ, based on themes, techniques and individual experiences, but their interpersonalcommunication transcends such dissimilarities and plays a vital role in ensuring successof the programmes.
Most of the events have been held in Thailand, Cambodia, Indonesia, Kolkata (India), Bhutan and different parts of the country. Kaya has always made great attempts to create a vibrant environment for the art milieu. The gallery likes to engage the artists in their creative proceedings. Artists too always respondto the gallery's requests for joining an initiative. The overall activities really help formulate a good and amicable ambiance in the local art scene.
For bringing variations, Galleri Kaya has recently introduced three categories of recreational activities for the artists-artcation, Art on River and Moments in Art.
Since the Covid-19 pandemic reached the country, nobody, particularly artists, could go outdoors for exploring their creativities and they have been feeling very isolated and distressed to stay confined at their homes. Being concerned at their isolated lives, Galleri Kaya recently organised artcation- where artists felt relief from quarantined life and plunged deep into their imaginative worlds. Two phases of the new Kaya segment have been held at Radisson Blue Dhaka Water Garden. Artists spontaneously tookpart in thephasesand created a series of paintings to reflect onthe increasingly wavering psychological temperaments of human life - their panic and anxiety- as well as the overall perilous time. The artists' in-depth observations about the current pandemic helped them explore the ins and outs of the crisis.
"Art on River" is another recently introduced episode where artists explore their ingenuity on boats. During the river journeys, the artists enjoy riverine life and discover the beauty of greenery and rustic Bangla with their inquisitive eyes. The two phases of the journey were held at Shitolokkha River. Through this innovative initiative, Goutam plans to introduce the artists to the different rivers in different districts of the country.
"Moments in Art" is another beautifully adorned idea from Galleri Kaya where a single artist contemplates on his work while staying in a serene and peaceful environment. The first phase of the journey with eminent artist Ranjit Das took place at Ratargul in Sylhet. Ratargul is the only freshwater swamp forest in the country. A dense forest comprising mostly native trees, Ratargul offers a sanctuary for different species of birds, monkeys, snakes and other reptiles. The second phase of the journey was recently held at Brosola in Sylhet.
Galleri Kaya has arranged a number of initiatives which certainly have helped shape our art scene. Mentionable, the American Center of the US embassy in Dhaka in collaboration with Galleri Kaya organised a serigraph workshop in 2011.
Two American artists - Mira Friedlander and Ted Riederer - conducted the workshop for seasoned and emerging Bangladeshi artists. Silkscreen printing or serigraph is not widely practiced in Bangladesh even though,technically, the medium is easy to use and takes upshort time. The instructors at the workshop demonstrated detailed use of the medium. Participants were really encouraged to do more works, utilising their knowledge about this new medium upon completion of the workshop.
Printmaking is demanding and exciting. It gives an opportunity for rethinking, re-examining, and reworking thereby facilitating a tremendous outcome. To emphasise this, in the year of 2013, a printmaking workshop was held at Kaya's premises where participating artists were from Bangladesh and India. Indian artists Atin Basak, JayantaNaskar and Ramendra Nath Kastha alongside Bangladeshi artists Anisuzzaman, Ashraful Hasan, Nagarbasi Barman, Sheikh Mohammad Rokonuzzaman and Sujit Sarkar shared their ideas on printmaking at the workshop.
Galleri Kaya also organised a workshop on etching in Kolkata in 2017 and 2019 with some leading Indian printmakers. The workshop helped construct a cultural bridge between the two countries at that time as part of the gallery's wider efforts to strengthenIndo-Bangladesh ties. The workshop received high acclaim in India.
In 2017, Gallery Kaya and Printmaking Department, the Faculty of Fine Arts, University of Dhaka, jointly organised a woodcut printmaking workshop at the faculty. Renowned printmaker Ratan Mojumder conducted the workshop while Goutam Chakraborty was its main initiator and supervisor. About 20 students from different universities-Printmaking Department at University of Dhaka, Institute of Fine Arts at Khulna University, Faculty of Fine Arts at Rajshahi University, Institute of Fine Arts at Chittagong University and Jatiya Kabi Kazi Nazrul Islam University took part in the workshop.
Four Indian artists, Aditya Basak, Chandra Bhattacharjee, Atin Basak and Jayanta Naskar, were the key attractions in the Bangladesh Art Trip which was held in 2019. Galleri Kaya invited the artists and organised their trip to Chittagong, Cox's Bazar and Dhaka with Goutam Chakraborty in the company.
In 2018, Galleri Kaya organised an art trip to Palace Luxury Resort in Habiganj. The artists unconsciously felt a rhythm to mingle with the untainted environmentas they focused on nature and its relationship with humans, pristine panoramic view, rural people, and the beautiful family bonding seen in villages.
Goutam Chakraborty had planned to assemble some earnest painters of different genres wishing they would paint from their heart. The gallerist selected six painters working in different genres during the '60s '70s, '80, '90s, and post '90s - RafiqunNabi, Ranjit Das, Jamal Ahmed, Ahmed Shamsuddoha, Sheikh Afzal and Mohammad Iqbal.
The selection reflected the chronological development of Bangladeshi contemporary art. The participating painters worked withat least three mediums - charcoal, watercolour and acrylic- butmost of them preferred charcoal. Through the visit, the artists rejuvenated themselves with a novel experience and ambiance.
The artists did not feel any additional pressure while limning their imaginations. All of them lived in separate villas to enjoy the liberty and got the chance to think individually. The cosy villas' surrounding ambiance influenced the artists to generate something unique and remarkable. Somebody portrayed on the easel and some worked by sitting on the floor at the villa's balcony. The balcony was spacious and had a wide view where one could easily see lush greenery and long trees. They plunged deep into their artworks in the midst of nature or personal imaginations.
In 2021, Galleri Kaya selected three painters working in different genres from the '80s, '90s and post '90s -Mohammad Iqbal, AloptoginTushar and Anisuzzaman Anis- for an art trip which was held at Nazimgarh Wilderness Resort in Lalakhal, Sylhet. The painters worked in several mediums like charcoal, chalk pastel, acrylic and watercolour. They lived in lavish rooms to enjoy their liberty and got the chance to think individually. The surrounding ambiance influenced the artists to produce something exceptional and outstanding.
Notable expositions held on the gallery premises over the last seventeen years include several solo shows like Kalidas Karmakar's Alluvial Faces-11 (2004); Hamiduzzaman Khan' Recent Sculptures and Other Works in 2006; RatanMojumdar's Black & White" in 2007; Tarun Ghosh's Myth, Memory and Motherland in 2008; Samiran Chowdhury's Connecting with Nature in 2010; Syed Abdullah Khalid's Symphony of Colours (2011); MF Husain's Journey in Graphics (2018). Also in the list are shows by Murtaja Baseer titled Homage to My Lady, a compilation of twelve drawings (2018); Selected Graphics and Drawing (2007), Revisit-1 (2009), The Wings (2010), A Collection of Drawings, Collages and Oil Pastels (1954-2014); RanjitDas's Images and Reflections (2010), Looking UP and Above (2014), Jamal Ahmed (Jamal 2020); Journey and Images (2017); of AshrafulHasan- Carnival of Agony (2011) and Trauma and Time (2012); M. F. Husain's Journey in Graphics in 2018; Jamal Ahmed's Chronicles in Charcoal in 2018; Shahanoor Mamun's Stories in 2019; Amongst the group exhibitions notable are Rhapsody (a joint show of India and Bangladesh held in 2008), Voices Next (2009) and Contemporary and Modern Art of Bangladesh (2017); Group Exhibition : Affordable Autumn in 2019; Group Exhibition : Celebrating Nature in 2020; Group Exhibition : Masters & Prodigies in 2021.
The writer is an art critic and cultural curator