Nadia and Rajeeb Samdani

Sunday, 5 January 2014 - 12:46pm IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: DNA

In 2012, after just a year of establishing the Samdani Art Foundation, Rajeeb and Nadia inaugurated the first edition of the Dhaka Art Summit. This February, the summit will return for its second edition. In these last few years, Rajeeb and Nadia have become arguably the most influential young couple in the South Asian art scene. In addition to being avid art collectors, the Samdanis have hosted various non commercial art events locally and internationally, funded multiple public art projects and lent works to major exhibitions and biennales.

This year, to commemorate the summit, the Samdani’s have reworked all the art in their home. It was a privilege to preview their new collection and talk to them about their extensive support to the arts.

Why art?
The love for art has been there since I was very young. I grew up around a lot of art since childhood which I think played a big role in my life for the passion of collecting. For me art is something that has to move me and something I can relate to.

Tell us about collecting art in Dhaka, is it difficult to collect international artists?
Collecting international art in Dhaka can be quite challenging in terms of logistics and high duty. But as the saying goes, ‘Where there is a will, there is a way.’

Your cheapest buy?
If you mean monetary wise, we have acquired artworks that have cost us below USD 100.

Your most important buy?
All our artworks are important to us and every artwork has a personal memory attached to it. But then again in general, we have few works that were exhibited in different biennales like Venice biennale and documenta.

Tell us a little about the Samdani Art foundation.
The Samdani Art Foundation is a non-profit art infrastructure organisation that intends to support and highlight the contemporary art scene of South Asia. The foundation was founded in 2011 by Rajeeb and myself and is not involved with art commercially in any way and is entirely funded by us.

What were your primary objectives and goals for the Dhaka Art Summit?
There is a huge interest towards South Asian Art and many institutions and museums are showing interest towards South Asia’s art scene, but due to lack of art infrastructure in South Asia except in India, a lot of the talent is passing by undiscovered and unfortunately there is no platform dedicated to South Asian Art where people from all over the world can come and discover its vibrant art scene. We thought of creating a platform where the best of South Asian Art can be bought together and highlighted with the importance it deserves.

Who will be curating the summit this year?
There are a total of seven curators who have been selected based on their individual expertise in their areas. The main curator for the Summit is Diana Campbell Betancourt, who is curating the solo project segmented and helping us design the entire Summit.

Among the others, Mahbubur Rahman is curating the entire Experimental Film and Artist performance segment; Rosa Maria Falvo will be curating a show on Bangladeshi photography; Deepak Ananth will be curating a show with Bangladeshi Contemporary artists; Veeranganakumari Solanki will be curating a show with Indian Contemporary and Emerging artists; Ambereen Karamat will be curating a show of Pakistani Contemporary artists. 

Who is your target audience?
Dhaka Art Summit is a non-commercial art festival and it is open for the public. And as much as we want, international institutions, museums and curators to discover artists also at the same time we want to present it to the local audience of Bangladesh.

Bungalow Eight goes into 2014 with a new face. The well-known retail brand has transformed the façade of its store with a bold pattern of black and white stripes. The striated surface bombards the eye with an energy, and will make any passer by look twice.

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