Rokeya Sultana  – a retrospective exhibition in India

by Team ACF
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June 7 – 26th | Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi

ICCR along with Bengal Foundation presents a travelling retrospective on Rokeya Sultan showcasing her four decades of works. The exhibition traces the artist’s fascinating trajectory when she worked in Santiniketan as a student under the guidance of Somenath Hore, to her artistic career subsequently in Bangladesh with Safiuddin Ahmed and Mohammad Kibria as mentors, where she straddled diverse mediums and experimented with different narratives that were a unique expression of her own moods, emotions and intuitions.

The exhibition comprises 111 artworks, 35 to 40 photographs, 3 animation videos, 1 film, 15 pieces of sculpture. The show is divided into 3 sections:

Biographical – The artist’s photographs, excerpts of texts from the book, book display, sculpture display, film screening will comprise the biographical section.

Artworks – Most of the artworks – prints, paintings, drawings – are culled from the artist’s own collection. About a third of the works are from the Bengal Foundation and Abul Khair Collections.

Animations – 3 animation videos on the Madonna series.

To commemorate this landmark exhibition, Bengal Foundation released their published monograph, which has been produced in close collaboration with the artist. Since this is the year that Bangladesh celebrates its 50th year of liberation, this exposition becomes even more valuable to people across the border. Rokeya Sultana, then a young painter, had been witness to that turbulent time when the Liberation War was being fought; it is indeed serendipitous that her major showing should now be presented in a country that stood by her own at that critical juncture when history was rewritten.

Rokeya Sultana, an award-winning Bangladeshi printmaker and painter received recognitions in the 9th Asian Biennale and the National Art Exhibition, Dhaka; the 3rd Bharat Bhaban Biennale, India; and a residency scholarship to L’Atelier Lacouriere et Frelaut, Paris. Her works have been widely exhibited. She is a Fulbright Fellow and has studios in Dhaka and Sydney.

Following the show in New Delhi, the works will travel to Kolkata in December this year, under the auspices of the ICCR. The show will be replicated in Dhaka by Bengal Foundation.


The 220-page monograph with over 135 colour images, is a collaborative effort with the artist Rokeya Sultana, resulting in a comprehensive presentation of her practice. Published here; among rarely seen reproductions of earlier paintings, prints and drawings; is an insight into Rokeya’s personal connection to her homeland and the revelation of how time and place has affected the evolution of her work. Combining the diverse wealth of materials examined – artworks, photographs, essays and visual information – the book hopes to convey a coherent framework and exhaustive insight of annotated works that will communicate to readers, without lapsing into a cursory understanding of an artist’s oeuvre. A careful selection of more than forty years of work, this publication is a definitive monograph of the artist. Essays by art curator and documentarian Ina Puri, and literary critic and writer S. Manzoorul Islam, will give readers an insight into the life of the artist, contextualising time, and developing and deepening the critical understanding of artistic movements in the region.

Following the show in New Delhi, the works will travel to Kolkata in July under the auspices of the ICCR. Then show will be replicated in Dhaka by the Bengal Foundation.

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