Posted by: ktzefr | February 16, 2013

Friday Fotos: South Asian Art

Yesterday I went to an art show at The World Bank in D.C.  “Imagining our future together” is an interesting and unusual exhibition of the works of young South Asian artists.  South Asia is home to the largest population of young people in the world.  A regional art contest was open to artists from eight countries — Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka.  Twenty-five pieces were chosen from the more than 1,000 responses.  Here are four of my favorites with the artists’ own words… (in some cases these are my pictures of a picture of a picture, so they are all much more beautiful than represented here).

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“One Woman Army” is by Mahfuzul Hasan Bhuiyan from Bangladesh.  “Photography for me is a way of life,” Bhuiyan says.  “…what I really want to do is create images with life.  I believe that you must do what you love or you’ll never be successful.”

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Jignasha Ojha’s “War and Peace” graces the cover.  Ojha says, “My work is based on the interaction of two cultures: our modern Indian culture which is influenced by the West and the traditional Indian culture — the past and the future.”  She blends traditions of miniature painting and images of contemporary popular culture in her work.  “Tradition is our soul and Modernity is our body,” she says.  In this image the young woman is attempting to “paint over” and erase the wars of the past.

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The artist who created “Gateway to Paradise” (above) goes by the name eden.  People come to the Maldives, he says, searching for the paradise they see in travel brochures — blue water, white sand.  “We travel far and wide…seeking Utopia.”  But…”that Utopia does not exist.”  Happiness, he says, “is found within.”

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This unusual piece of art, “untitled,” is created with oil on acrylic.  The top of the “hemisphere” is clear acrylic and the bottom half is mirror.  Though the artist, Muhammad Junaid from Pakistan, prefers mirror and glass, this one is an acrylic globe that hangs suspended.  There are miniature people gathered around the surface and real people reflected in its mirror.  The artist says: “I use mirror and glass as a representation of my inner self, and paint application as a reflection of the chaos and depression of city life in metropolises like Karachi.  My work reflects ambiguity between reality and its distortions — I attempt to create a space that has not been seen or experienced before.”

South Asia is the least integrated region in the world.  Big cultural differences and old conflicts have left many scars.   Can artistic and cultural expression, connecting young people through art, empower a vision of integration and create social change? This new generation of artists imagines the possibilities for a future together without stereotypes and divisions.  What a vision, indeed!

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