Photographer Rasel Chowdhury Wins Bangladesh’s Top Contemporary Art Award

The win could be a career-defining moment.

Rasel Chowdhury. Photo: Twitter.
Rasel Chowdhury. Photo: Twitter.

Documentary photographer Rasel Chowdhury beat out 300 other applicants to win this year’s Samdani Art Award. The winner was announced today at the Dhaka Art Summit, which is curated by Diana Campbell Betancourt. It is the largest showcase of South Asian contemporary art in the world.

Bangladesh’s premier art prize is awarded bi-annually to emerging artists between the ages of 22-40 living and working in the country. Chowdhury, who is a contract photographer for the New York Times and Getty, will enjoy an all-expenses paid three-month residency at the Delfina Foundation in London in order to work on his craft.

Previously, Chowdhury’s images have been displayed at the 2014 Singapore Photo Festival, in the 2014 exhibition “Eyes on Bangladesh in New York” in Queens, and at the Getty Images Gallery in London.

Samdani Art Award exhibition (installation view) Photo: Dhaka Art Summit

Samdani Art Award exhibition (installation view).
Photo: Dhaka Art Summit.

Overcoming the grueling selection process, the artist came out on top after three selection rounds. The director of the Delfina Foundation Aaron Cezar compiled a preliminary longlist of 20 artists, which was then whittled down to 13 finalists by Daniel Baumann, director of Kunsthalle Zurich.

In a statement, Cezar emphasized that the award reflects “the development of Bangladeshi contemporary art as it absorbs new ideas and practices into its rich historic contours.”

Samdani Art Award exhibition (installation view) Photo: Dhaka Art Summit

Samdani Art Award exhibition (installation view)
Photo: Dhaka Art Summit

This years finalists also included Shumon Ahmed, Gazi Nafis Ahmed, Palash Bhattacharjee, Samsul Alam Helal, Zihan Karim, Ashit Mitra, Salma Abedin Prithi, Rupam Roy, Atish Saha, Shimul Saha, Rafiqul Shuvo and Farzana Ahmed Urmi. The artists’ works are included in the finalists’ exhibition curated by Daniel Bauman.

Samdani Art Award exhibition (installation view) Photo: Dhaka Art Summit

Samdani Art Award exhibition (installation view)
Photo: Dhaka Art Summit

The award and its eponymous foundation was founded in 2011 by the Bangladeshi industrialist, collector and arts philanthropist Rajeeb Samdani and his wife Nadia in order to shine a light on Bangladesh’s art scene.


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