Dhaka does not conjure up the thought of biodiversity, forest and water bodies, even though the big concrete city that it is now was once rich in all of those things. Animal life, however, still exists in the chaotic metropolis. Art exhibition 'Doob 2.0' is an attempt to depict the still prevailing biodiversity.
The ongoing exhibition, held at Dhaka's Edward M Kennedy Memorial (EMK) Centre, that's set to go on until 22 October, reimagines the animal life in Dhaka "with mythological elements, folklore and rituals" through multidisciplinary 'miniaturesque' artworks.
Hosted by the EMK Centre, the exhibition is being organised by the Charukala alum Azizee Fawmi Khan and other artists whose works are on display at the event. They include Nusrat Jahan Titly, Sarah Jabin, Rakibul Anwar, Joyshree Chakma, Afroza Hossain Sara, Anannya Mephar Azad, Auntora Mehrukh Azad, Shaily Shrabonti, Taniya Rahman, Mreethmandir Gunjan Kumar Roy, Azrina Ahasan, Afsana Haque Ayaan, Mukta Mareeam Khan.
The tiny artworks, which the organisers describe as "miniaturesque", need close inspection by viewers to appreciate the details. Up close, they show intricate details within the extremely limited landscape of the small frames.
Artists used a variety of materials that include in Azrina Ahasan's work, for instance, seeds, vividly coloured leaves, flowers, shells, wood chips, which the artists captured in resin.
Mukta Mareeam Khan's work 'Asharhe Golpo' is composed with organic materials on paper, with inspiration taken from traditional 'patachitra' scroll paintings.
Artists featured in the exhibition drew inspiration from literally everything around them and materialised their imagination by using beads, soap, ink and colour pencil on paper, bird feathers, jute, cotton, coal and many more.
Media included digital art and animation, fabric colour and squin on silk, oil on board and mix media on silk, gouache, hand-embroidery on canvas, thread on paper, among others to give each work a personality of its own.
"EMK Centre's goal is to create a platform for young aspiring aspiring artists to show their creativity. The first exhibition was done online with the Doob team and the second is being done at a much larger scale here," Sayed Tahsin, Social Media Coordinator for the EMK Centre.
The initial concept of 'Doob' was born when during the pandemic Azizee found herself frustrated with the prolonged restrictions of lockdowns. It was then in 2020 that the artist decided to put together the Doob exhibition with her artist friends.
"But the post-pandemic conditions were different. So we wanted to infuse different parts and aspects of the ecosystem with our city. No one can imagine green, lush nature in a cityscape but our Dhaka was born along the banks of Buriganga. Dhaka and nature were once intertwined but we have walked far off from nature in the name of development and modernity," said Azizee.
The scaled-down form of the artworks in Doob 2.0 can also be interpreted as a reflection of the space-crunch in the increasingly overpopulated Dhaka city, said the organiser.
TBS Picks: A selection of artworks with descriptions from the artists
Unnoticed (organic materials in resin) by Azrina Ahasan
Back in 2020, I moved to my hometown where I grew up as a child. But going back I saw nature and its elements under a different light. Biodiversity in rural areas is vastly different from the city. I used different kinds of seeds, vividly coloured leaves, flowers, shells, seeds and wood chips and captured them in resin. I reimagined nature using what nature gives.
Epiphany of Living Things (organic mix media) by Afsana Haque Ayaan
My personal views and understanding of environmental experience, urban life, history and culture and the complex interaction between living creatures mainly influenced Epiphany of Living Things.
Asharhe Golpo (organic materials on paper) by Mukta Mareeam Khan
My work was inspired by traditional patachitra scroll paintings. Through the pictures I have tried to tell a story about a frog catching cold, which is essentially impossible and hence the name of my artwork: Asharhe Golpo – which too means telling unbelievable folktales. As is tradition, I made colours with organic ingredients such as egg yolk as binder and also sang Puthi/Patua Sangeet that the audience can listen to when they see Asharhe Golpo.