Lisa Banu, Assistant Professor of Design History,Purdue University
Fig. 1, Kolshi
This essay follows the plight of an unlikely protagonist in the story of Bangladeshi modern art, the kolshi. Operating as an iconic object in art, the kolshi, refers to gender, geography, nationality and culture. Consequently, the matrix of meaning connecting the geographical element of water and the women of the nation often mediated by the kolshi, is significant. The narrative of the kolshi speaks of a persistent struggle in Bangladeshi modern art to both articulate a national identity and to connect to a shared modern world. The survey follows the movement of the iconic water pitcher interpreted by the following artists’ works: Zainul Abedin, Quamrul Hasan, S. M. Sultan, Hamidur Rahman, Abdul Baset, Nasreen Begum and Qayyum Choudhury. In their works the theme of national and gender identity in a modern world is configured through the robust practice of art as evidence of creative confrontations of local identity and global connectivity.