Daagi Art Garage

Founded in 2014

Beginning with a series of experimental warm ups in 2013, Daagi Art Garage is a collaborative and supportive collective comprised of seven Dhaka-based artists working across a variety of disciplines. Officially founded on friendship and common perceptions, members Dhiman Sharkar (b. 1988), Emran Sohel (b. 1984), Rasel Chowdhury (b. 1988), Rupam Roy (b. 1985), Sanad Biswas (b. 1986), Sanjid Mahmud (b. 1987), and Syed Tareq Rahman (b. 1988) took a studio space together where they could meet, make work, share ideas, and solve their own and others artistic problems, inspire and support each other.

Daagi, if translated plainly into English means ‘convicted,’ a play on words highlighting the group’s capability to challenge the accepted values of art, and their courage to face criticism for the work they produce. Taking inspiration from the common platforms of solidarity formed by artists active in the Mumbai and Calcutta art scenes between the 1940s to early 1960s—as well as the Somoy group which formed in Bangaldesh during the 1990s (but has since folded)—members share a rented studio space in the Maghbazar district of Dhaka, avoiding the inevitable isolation of working alone.

Having formed close working relationships through their ongoing conversations and creative exchange (continued through social media and popular communication apps when they are unable to meet in person), the group uncover similar themes in each others work, exploiting these connections as the impetuous for collaboration, sometimes as a whole group, other times in pairs or trios. With each member contributing their own viewpoint, the group expose new depths within their chosen themes, while diversifying their own thinking. Full of tools, materials, finished and unfinished work, their studio space is crammed with evidence of the groups consistent experimenting and endless collaborative processes which they feel draw out different themes in their own work and makes them stronger as a collective.

Many of Daagi’s collaborative efforts have tackled political issues, one of which led to their first group exhibition, Weapon Can’t Kill!, in February 2016, the title being more of a common slogan that each member adapted to their individual expression but also admitted by the group to be just a cover for getting together and making art. Although each member has his own practice, once a body of work reaches its conclusion and is exhibited as DAG, no individual member claims the work as their own, seeing it entirely as a product of the group and their collaborative efforts. Exhibiting their efforts only when the group collectively feels that their work has reached a conclusion, their collaborative exhibitions are few, but worth the wait when they do occur.

Each of Daagi’s members is also active as individual artist outside the collective, contributing to in their own way to Dhaka’s energetic art scene, and to the work of other active initiatives, many of who are also members of the Samdani Artist-Led Initiatives Forum. Conscious of the difficulties surviving as professional artist can provide, as a group, their collective efforts and supportive environment leave them all better prepared to face the challenges of their chosen profession and thrive as individual artists.

Collaborative Organization