For acrylic painting satirising the collective indifferences, socially-conscious artist Atia Islam has won the Grand Prize competing with 414 artworks by 330 local and foreign artists at the 18th edition of the Asian Art Biennale.
She received Tk 500,000, a crest and a certificate from president Abdul Hamid at the inauguration ceremony of the biennale held at the National Theatre Hall of Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy on Saturday. The president handed over three grand prizes and six honourable mention awards to five local and four foreign artists.
The biennale features 583 artworks by 465 artists from 68 countries, including artworks by invited local and foreign artists and that of local master artists.
‘This is my first award in any competition. And I’m really glad to get the award for my awareness generating work, which criticises the collective indifference to the injustice, violation of human rights, terrorist activities, killings and murders going on in the society. It’s recognition to my effort of communicating my thought through my art,’ an excited Atia told New Age.
Atia’s 12X7 feet painting titled ‘None Shall Blow the Siren Before Destruction’ is on display at the first floor of the National Art Gallery at the biennale along with the artworks of Bangladeshi competitors. On black background, the acrylic painting portrays six deformed human figures drawn with basic red, green and blue colours. None of these six nude male and female figures has head. One of the red-coloured human image in bending gesture holds a big machete, while another red-coloured human figure stands beside. Three human figures create a coiling image from which one figure raises hands upwards with the gesture of protest. Paradoxically, another blue-coloured image has been drawn that eats a banana in relaxed mood standing on grenades.
‘Actually, I’ve illustrated a line of poet Abul Hossain’s poem that reads Dhwangsher agey keo siren bajabe na (None Shall Blow the Siren Before Destruction) to address the contemporary time where nobody bothers much seeing extra judicial killings, murders and terrorist activities. The figures have no heads to address the fact that the people in general have lost their thinking process to get rid of the problems that may destroy the society’, Atia explains.
‘Sometimes we think to kill the notorious killers but we can’t do while a few people protests at such heinous activities but those do not have any impact. There is another alienated elite class in the society that does not even bother at the social realities rather celebrates their lavish lifestyle,’ she continues.
The artist said she used basic colours as her artwork addresses the common problems prevailing in the society.
A drawing and painting graduate of Dhaka University’s faculty of fine arts Atia Islam said she has been addressing social anomalies through her artworks from the start of her career as an artist in 1980s.
Earlier, she criticised acid attack, extra judicial killing by law enforcers, BDR mutiny and others. ‘Being a member of the society, it’s my duty to address the social injustice. As an artist I just can do it through my works,’ Atia said.
Atia Islam teaches art at Jhapi School of Art, an art school located in Dhanmondi.
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