Tyler alum exhibits art on South Asian history – The Temple News

Shwarga Bhattacharjee, an alumnus of the Tyler School of Art and Architecture, launched an exhibition When the Subaltern Speaks, presented at the Da Vinci Art Alliance. I COURTESY / SHWAREGA BHATTECHARJEE

Shwarga Bhattacharjee started drawing at the age of five and was inspired to continue because his mother supported his interest in the arts, he said. Growing up in a South Asian family, he felt pressured by society’s expectations to become a doctor or an engineer.

“When I was a kid, I always liked to draw and I was drawing all the time,” said Bhattacharjee, who graduated with an MFA in Drawing and Painting in 2018. where art could be a way of life.”

To showcase his experiences and observations as an immigrant, Bhattacharjee held his exhibition, “When Subordinates Speak,” which is open until September 14 at the Da Vinci Art Alliance, a nonprofit arts organization, located at Seventh Street and Catharine Streets. . The exhibition features abstract paintings, animated illustrations and sculptures. It highlights modern identities in South Asia as well as migration, transnationalism, racism and the effects of postcolonial borders.

“These are all huge topics, and I’m a single person and an artist and my interests range from my own experiences,” Bhattacharjee said. “I don’t want this experience to be just a personal experience. I feel like if we think about migration, ancestry, and the complexities of a person, we can all relate to those topics.

After moving from Bangladesh to the United States in 2014, Bhattacharjee began expressing her upbringing and immigration experience using abstract artwork to showcase her South Asian background.

“When I moved to the United States, I always thought about incorporating South Asian images, symbols or resources,” Bhattacharjee said. “When I moved here, I wanted to be an active artist in the conversation about contemporary art.”

After graduating from Temple, Bhattacharjee explored downtown Philadelphia and was inspired to include more than South Asian culture in his works, which led to his evolution as an artist to include new places and a glimpse of his work.

In her work today, Bhattacharjee embraces how Bangladesh and Philadelphia influence her identity by finding ways to incorporate and merge geographic similarities. For example, in his last solo exhibition, “Excavation Paths,” at Twelve Gates Arts, a Philadelphia arts organization located at Arch and Second Street, he brought together the Schuylkill River and the Jamuna River, one of the largest rivers from Bangladesh, referring to how the earth provides water, food and oxygen without discrimination.

“The discrimination that I see, that I experienced in Bangladesh, or anywhere else, we created it,” Bhattacharjee said. “But the connection with the land, with a person is so personal. After a while, I felt like Philly was my home.”

The aim of the exhibition is to show the lasting effects of British post-imperialism on India, Bangladesh and Pakistan, and how indigenous ideas are lost in colonial ideas. Bhattacharjee wants his audience to identify with his work by raising awareness on topics such as colonization, which still affects people all over the world.

Kara Mshinda, fellowship director at the Da Vinci Art Alliance, worked with Bhattacharjee as he developed the initial idea for his project during his fellowship and before it was prepared for the exhibition.

“I am extremely happy, I think his display is wonderful,” Mshinda said. “Watching a concept become reality has been such a treat.”

Mshinda was amazed by Bhattacharjee’s ability to use his work as a mechanism to influence an audience about the effects of colonialism and how it changed the identity of South Asia.

Veronica Knell, marketing manager for the Da Vinci Art Alliance, sees Bhattacharjee’s work as a reflection of the founding of the alliance by Italian immigrants in 1931 and how they built community through art as they were not accepted by professional art spaces.

“We really embrace this mission of building community through art and raising as many voices as possible today, so we always try to do that at Da Vinci, and part of that is our scholarship program” , Knell said.

Bhattacharjee’s next endeavor will be a fellowship for the Center for Emerging Visual Artists, an art gallery that offers fellowship opportunities, where he will have a studio open this fall.

He is grateful that his exhibition came to life and that his works were a force that helped raise awareness of South Asian colonialism.

“I knew I wanted to talk about these topics and share these thoughts and feelings, and that’s what I told them,” Bhattacharjee said. “I was surprised that this happened because my work is very abstract, and I was not sure that my conversations would be inspired by these subjects, but it is, so I feel very satisfied by it .”

Julia P. Cluff