Name to know: Ayesha Sultana


Name to know: Ayesha Sultana

The Bangladeshi artist 's work travels deftly across media

By Vatsala Chhibber  February 5th, 2016

The ink-hued photographs from Ayesha Sultana’s Tunnel series (2014-ongoing) capture both stillness and anticipation in vacant train sheds, in-process excavations and dizzying mine shafts. Printed with the 20th-century cyanotype technique, the stark landscapes reflect Sultana’s fascination with space. “I have been interested in spatial concerns related to visual perception,” says Sultana, 30, who’s fast gaining cred as a distinct new voice in contemporary art. The Dhaka native won the Samdani Art Award (presented to an emerging Bangladeshi artist) in 2014 and featured in Art Review’s prestigious crop of Future Greats last year, selected by leading international curators.

While Sultana refuses to align with a single medium, a unifying starkness runs across her geometric graphite drawings (Outside The Field Of View, 2015), minimal watercolour horizons (The Blue Of Distance, 2015) and journal entries embroidered on velvet (Blue Velvet, 2014). Her experiments with medium and materials also document the legacy of her hometown. “The city of Dhaka inadvertently permeates my work. Some of my ideas are sparked from negotiating with my surroundings,” she says. For the 2014 public art project 1 mile2 Dhaka, for instance, Sultana inserted gold leaf sheets into cracks in a decaying brick construction, bringing attention to fractured realities. With A Space Between Things, her new solo for this month’s Dhaka Art Summit, Sultana aims to disengage her work from “its very rooted Bangladeshi context”, while referencing architectural patterns. “This project needs to be navigated spatially, and experienced in relation to the scale of the body,” she says.

Dhaka Art Summit 2016 is on from February 5-8. Dhakaartsummit.org