Kintsugu Dhaka 2020
An underlying thread within my works is the relationship between my personal memories and present experience. Coming back to Bangladesh after living in Tokyo was not easy for me. Dhaka, the city where I had grown up and lived my entire life, had grown bewilderingly in the five years that I was away. Using the Japanese techniques and concept of wabi-sabi, and kin-sugi by using gold leaf, I draw on my memories of old Dhaka and then give them a new life. Kin-sugi dictates that it is not only glued back, but also gilded along the cracks – as if the calamity that befell the pottery makes it even more valuable. This concept finds recall in an aging, aesthetically inclined nation. Wabi-sabi, likewise, is a worldview centered on the acceptance of transience and imperfection. With a wabi-sabi mindset, I go back to old Dhaka, and document old buildings at risk of collapsing on their own or falling victim to development, and then give them a new life, even if only on paper. I have re-interprets gilding in many forms. I used Japanese gilt delicately embossed on sepia prints, brass wires to recreate architectural elements, and a myriad of other visual techniques.

Najmun Nahar Keya, born in Dhaka, Bangladesh, did her Master’s firstly, at the Faculty of Fine Arts, University of Dhaka, later, from the Tokyo University of the Arts. Najmun’s works are a reflection of her experiences in bygone times and the present. In her earlier work, she explored her emotions and socio-political events through symbols and motifs and self-portraits. The current project has evolved from her earlier work, earlier memories are juxtaposed with her present circumstances.

Besides drawing and painting Keya also has been experimenting with different materials and mediums such as gold gilding, photographs, video, animation, prints, textile etc. Her work has been exhibited in Bangladesh, USA, India, Nepal, Japan, Netherlands, Poland, France and other countries. Najmun has participated in residency programmes in Nepal and South Korea. She received a Japanese government scholarship in 2012; won the Charles Wallace (UK) professional visit fellowship in 2018; a visiting artist fellowship at Lakshmi Mittal and Family South Asia Institute, Harvard university, USA in 2020 and, Honorable mention in the 18th Asian art biennale. Najmun works as a freelance artist.