Soma Surovi Jannat becomes the first-ever Bangladeshi artist-in-residence at Oxford University’s Ashmolean Museum

September 11, 2023

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Young Bangladeshi artist Soma Surovi Jannat has recently been honoured as the first-ever Bangladeshi artist for the Frere Hall South Asian Artist in Residence program at the Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford, England.

Opened in 1683, the Ashmolean is Oxford University’s Museum of Art and Archaeology and the oldest public museum in the United Kingdom.

According to the social media post of the Ashmolean Museum, the aim of the residency is to support South Asia-based artists with the opportunity to access the Museum’s collections, while exploring and strengthening their own practices.

It praises Surovi’s artistic ventures, quoting that “Surovi makes work about how human beings can cultivate their senses through their relationship with nature. She creates a multi-dimensional space with drawings, herbs and organic materials, where viewers have the opportunity to enhance their visual perception and senses through interaction with the artwork.”

The museum also shared a painting of the artists titled ‘Resensitizing the Brown Narrative’ created at the Museum in August of this year.

While contacted, Surovi told UNB from her residency in Oxford, United Kingdom that she is absolutely overjoyed to share her incredible achievement.

“On the 19th of August, I had the honour of joining the Frere Hall South Asian Artist in Residence program at the Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford. It was like a dream come true! I want to express my heartfelt gratitude to the University of Oxford’s Ashmolean Museum for believing in my artistic journey.”

“I’m deeply thankful to my parents, my dear husband Asif Rahman Siam, and my family and friends for their unwavering support every step of the way.

Their prayers mean the world to me. All praise to Almighty Allah for this incredible opportunity!” Surovi wrote on her social media profiles, sharing her achievement.

Photo: Exhibition Painting

The Ashmolean Museum also shared the statement of Surovi regarding the residency, in which the artist said: “The Ashmolean Museum is an inspiring and enriching environment for me to immerse myself in my artistic pursuits. It allows me to explore new horizons, push the boundaries of my creativity, and connect with a diverse range of people and nature.”

“Currently, I am looking at the collections of company paintings, Kalighat, Mica paintings, and Clay figures from the Colonial period, as well as the photographs. I see these works of art from the point of view of appreciating the history of modern art while also keeping the historical background in mind,” Surovi said.

The museum also shared Surovi’s painting titled “Resensitizing the Brown Narrative.’’ The painting, according to the artist, suggests a re-evaluation or reawakening of perspective related to the ‘Brown’ experience or identity. “This work is made from a combination of my outer observation, inner observation, and intuition,” she said about the painting.

Artist Soma Surovi Jannat studied drawing and painting and graduated from the Dhaka University Faculty of Fine Art in 2014. She completed her post-graduation in painting from the Visva Bharati University, West Bengal, India in 2016.

Her first solo exhibition titled ‘Grey Contours’ was held at Alliance Française de Dhaka in 2018, showcasing 100 drawings of the Santals community. She was commissioned by the Samdani Art Foundation to create the drawing installation ‘Into the yarn, out in the One’ in Dhaka Art Summit 2020, which won the Samdani Art Award 2020 consisting of a residency program at Delfina Foundation in London.

Her previous exhibitions include the ‘Young Subcontinent Project’ of the Serendipity Arts Festival, Goa, India 2018; the 17th & 18th Asian Art Biennale Bangladesh 2016, 2018; and the 7th Beijing International Art Biennale, China 2017. She received the best award in the 22nd Young Artists’ Art Exhibition in 2020, organized by Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy (BSA).

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