In a conversation with the members of Studio 6/6, Dhaka Tribune was given insights into what goes on inside one of the most talked-about community art spaces in the city
One of the most important aspects of any major city around the world is to hold on to its culture amidst all other developments, be it through any form of art or by any other means. As a megacity that more than twenty million people call home, Dhaka certainly needs more places for people to practice and enjoy art. Overwhelming responses from the people at major events like the Dhaka Art Summit and Dhaka Lit Fest proves how much the city dwellers admire creative work, which provides them with a medium through which they can escape their usual lacklustre lifestyle. Art spaces are therefore vital and it is certainly a positive development that more and more such spaces are created. Studio 6/6 is one such community space shared by four artists who belong to the same family, where at times different artists and admirers of their work are invited to experience art and music.
Najib Tareque, is a well-respected artist, printmaker and writer who started his journey into the world of art from the mid-80s. Ever since he has been part of various group and solo exhibitions both home and abroad. With a background of Printmaking in both Bachelors and Masters from Charukola Institute, he initially started working at a newspaper in a time when layouts were done manually. After winning prestigious awards such as the Berger Young Artist Award, inspired him to finally make the decision of wanting to become a fulltime painter. He was also one of the founding members of Jolrong, one of the first online art galleries in the continent. Studio 6/6 took its shape when he and his wife Farhana Afroze Bappy moved into their new house which is situated in Mohammadpur. Designed in a way that facilitates a gallery downstairs, which is often used to hold various exhibitions. Art Makes Us Human, was one of his first exhibitions which still takes place annually and is primarily an online art project that combines his previous illustrations with typography and also makes new ones. This virtual art project started back in 2015 which eventually spread across various social media platforms. His work is mainly available on Instagram and Facebook.
Studio 6/6 held various successful exhibitions since its inception in 2015, one of the notables was ‘Nirman,’ which focused on his family’s journey into the world of art, essentially a celebration of Najib’s comeback after a long time being involved in the corporate scene. It reflected ways through which studio 6/6 came into existence. A year after that, Najib held ‘Chirkut,’ a solo exhibition through which he got more and more involved with his own studio work.
Farhana Afroz Bappy and Najib met while they were both in Charukola, being in the same department with a background in Printmaking. Like Najib, she too drifted away from the world of art temporarily. She worked as a teacher and was also one of the producers for Grameen Check. Her experience in Grameen Check enabled her to pursue fashion designing, opening her own boutique ‘Bangal.’ Bangal also held interesting projects like ‘Shlok’ and ‘Khapchokra,’ producing T-shirt magazines that held poetry and illustrations. These were done with the affiliations of Bangla Academy. Farzana is also one of the founding members of ‘Colours,’ a multidisciplinary women artist group that works with various kinds of creative artwork. They hold annual exhibitions at Charukola.
‘Anybody can do it, please do it’ is one of the most recent exhibitions held at Studio 6/6. As interesting as the name goes, the theme was abstract painting open to everyone’s contribution. This was held mainly to encourage more people to get involved with art and their creative side. Though the pandemic disrupted plans to hold exhibitions, the studio, however, did end up organizing one a few months ago with few people to ensure health safety. This month-long solo exhibition was titled ‘Waterbodies,’ by Nabil Rahman.
Najib and Farhana’s daughter, Taiara Farhana Tareque is the one who mainly organizes and manages Studio 6/6. She herself is a multidisciplinary artist who also contributes to the exhibitions with her own artwork. Working at art events like the Art Summit and Chobi Mela, enabled her to organize these exhibitions at the studio. Paintings and artwork of various artists are available at the studio from where one can purchase.
Not only is Studio 6/6 providing a community space and a platform for exhibiting artwork but has big contributions to creative education as well. The members of the studio offer various courses like their Terracota Workshop, where training for making clay-based objects are given. Najib also offers a long course on Modern Art. Both practice and discussions on the topic are held regularly.