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     Volume 7 Issue 29 | July 18, 2008 |

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An Encyclopaedia of Art in Bangladesh

Elita Karim
The 'Art and Artists of Bangladesh' team.

For an upcoming artist or someone with a million questions on art in Bangladesh, it's almost impossible to get proper answers. Despite the fact that over the last many years, books and publications on art and artists have been brought out in Bangladesh, they tend to get much too expensive for young art students and artists and beyond the reach of the mass. Information on fine arts in Bangladesh, therefore, is very difficult to get access to.

This is one of the major reasons why a group of young art lovers and artists recently launched an encyclopaedia of artworks and the lives of famous artists at the Drik Gallery on July 11, 2008. Titled 'Art and Artists of Bangladesh', this interactive CD is a gigantic compilation and storage of data on fine arts of Bangladesh. It includes the profiles of 236 artists starting from Zainul Abedin up to promising artists today, 2,700 artworks in various mediums, a brief history of art in Bangladesh from the ancients to the current masters and works, information on all the art galleries and institutes in Bangladesh, important art events from 1947 to 2007, rare video footages on five major artists in the country and much more. In front of an audience of 800, mostly well-known artists of Bangladesh, the launching ceremony was a huge success, says Biplob Mostafiz, the co-ordinator of the event.

Categorised under 'Artists', 'Plates', 'Close-up' and 'Time Line', the information can be easily accessed by switching from one section to another. In fact, each section is accompanied by soothing background music created with a dotara, mondira, piano, flute and many more traditional sounds, including the sound of rain. Not only does the viewer have the opportunity to take a glance at the massive works of legendary artists, but also has the chance to feel the beauty of the artwork by breathing in the relaxing, traditional music created by Rahul Anand from Prachyanaut.

This project took around nine years to complete. The preliminary research of this project was done between the years 1999 and 2002. Even though the CD was to be launched much earlier, the team decided to redesign the concept and add new information and technology accordingly.

It seems that the collection and selection of images was a very difficult process. The artists who are alive and residing in the country were contacted whereupon their photographs, CDs, exhibition catalogues and other forms of information were collected. Artists living abroad were contacted via email, who sent digital images used in the CD. A large number of images have been collected from catalogues published on several solo and group art exhibitions. Yet another major obstacle that the team had to face was trying to figure out the fake artworks from the real ones, for instance in the case of works done by famous artists Zainul Abedin, Sultan and Quamrul.

This interactive CD was made out of sheer passion and hard work shown by a group of young art lovers. Financed through unconditional individual donations made by art lovers, the CD was not created to generate profit. The proceeds earned from the sale of this CD will be spent on hosting and maintenance of the web version of 'Art and Artists of Bangladesh'. The CD can be bought at Deshaal and Bidit Book store at Aziz Super Market in Shahbagh and Deshaal in Banani.

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