jamini was launched in 2003 amidst a resurgence of cultural activity in Bangladesh. The art scene was particularly vibrant at that time. Jamini aimed to focus on this scene as well as trends in art internationally. The hope was to let an international readership know about art happenings in Bangladesh and to expose Bangladeshis to important art movements overseas. Twelve issues of the magazine were published to widespread acclaim over a period of five years; so much so, that even though it ceased to exist in 2009, art lovers in many parts of the world still remember it fondly almost a decade later.
Bangladesh’s artists are now exhibiting everywhere. An ever increasing number of them participate regularly in festivals, fairs and exhibitions abroad; a few foreign painters, sculptors, printmakers, and conceptual and graphic artists have also been exhibiting their works in our galleries or hosting workshops and seminars here. Gala events such as the Asian Art Biennale, Bengal Classical Music Festival and the Dhaka Art Summit have been providing a forum for artists, musicians, critics, curators and collectors from all over the world. It is against a backdrop of such exciting developments that we are launching Jamini again, hoping with this new series to present to a worldwide readership the latest and best artworks of the region and to showcase the leading artists of our time.
The inaugural issue of this new series deals with crafts as both a marginalized art form and threatened tradition. Bangladesh’s folk art and handicrafts are rooted in its countryside. Our artisans have used our country’s flora and fauna to fashion handmade tools and objects of everyday use for centuries. However, due to advances in technology and the easy access of imported products, the handicrafts sector is now in decline.
Naveed Islam’s essay on the lives of our artisans reveals the challenges they have to overcome repeatedly while Syeda Samara Mortada’s interview with Ruby Ghuznavi indicates how we can not only preserve but also promote handicrafts nationally and internationally. Jafrin Gulshan interviews eminent artist Saidul Haque Juise who has been keeping the age-old mask-making tradition alive. Syed Manzoorul Islam’s piece spotlights the modernization and monetization of the crafts trade and reflects on the consequences of mass-produced craft goods replacing handmade crafts in the marketplace.
Kashfia Arif and Fahim Siddiqi’s piece muses on the importance of handicrafts as symbols of our cultural identity and touchstones to the past after visiting the Sonargaon folk arts and crafts museum. Shawon Akand discusses the storied history of doll-making in the Indian Subcontinent while Niaz Zaman elaborates on the art of embroidered quilts. While different crafts have often been regarded as ‘low art’ due to their commercial and functional uses, Giorgio Guglielmino’s essay proposes that the techniques so closely associated with this neglected art form can be found in fine art as well. Anna Baldi profiles Shafiqul Kabir Chandan, a Bangladeshi artist whose unique brand of ‘fibre art’ blends elements of handicrafts with contemporary art forms.
In addition to crafts, the inaugural issue of the new Jamini series also covers national and international art events in a section called “Open Space”. This section includes, “Looking Back” where we revisit major developments and important exhibitions that have taken place in the last few years, both in Bangladesh and abroad. The “Market” part of the section discusses the crucial role played by the art market while “Reviews” contains pieces on recent exhibitions in Dhaka. “In Between” is a new feature providing artists with space to express themselves through original work in the form of writing, sketches, paintings, etc. The first “In Between” entry features renowned artist Monirul Islam.
We would like to thank H.E. Giorgio Guglielmino who served as the guest editor for this issue. His guidance and input were invaluable to the editorial team and his creative vision was instrumental in reviving and redefining Jamini for a new global readership. We hope you will delight in all issues of this new Jamini series. Do help us present the best in art from Bangladesh and beyond with not only your essays and reviews but also your suggestions. For sure, your support, through subscriptions, contributions and suggestions will make this new Jamini series last forever!
jamini was launched in 2003 amidst a resurgence of cultural activity in Bangladesh. The art scene was particularly vibrant at that time. Jamini aimed to focus on this scene as well as trends in art internationally. The hope was to let an international readership know about art happenings in Bangladesh and to expose Bangladeshis to…