The deceptive simplicity in Rokeya Sultana’s formal arrangement, which sometimes exploits the elements of naïve art, the juxtaposition of paint areas, the dynamic colours and flowing lines, and her delicate attention to details combine to give her work an immediate strength. Her art is a reflection of loss and displacement, and the impermanence in life. She was influenced in her formative years by the tumultuous 1971 revolution that created Bangladesh, and the evolution of a strong cultural identity in her country’s art and society. She addresses issues of womanhood and the power of intuition and imagination that can be a feminine attribute that moves into universal truths. Through a symbolic personal language, she expresses such metaphysical perceptions as women in communion with nature, who lead the next generation, becoming the key to the world. Widely known for her figural series Madonna and Relations, her abstract landscapes in the Earth Water Series, and her print series Fata Morgana, Sultana is an accomplished and international award-winning printmaker and painter.
Rokeya Sultana was born in Chittagong in 1958. After graduating from the Bangladesh College of Arts and Crafts in 1980, she received a master’s degree in printmaking from Visva Bharati, Santiniketan, in 1983. She has exhibited in Poland, Germany, Morocco, Oman (Bait Al Zubair Museum), France, Iran, Egypt, Turkey, Taiwan, Nepal, Korea, Jordan, Denmark, Pakistan, India, USA—Denver, Wyoming, NY (Art Student League)—and Japan, among other countries. Sultana is the recipient of numerous national and international scholarships and awards, including a prestigious Fullbright grant, which supported her nine-month artist’s residency at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She is an influential figure in Dhaka, Santiniketan and Sydney art scenes. Currently a Professor of Printmaking at the University of Dhaka, Sultana divides her time between her studios in Dhaka and Sydney. Notable among the artist’s awards are the Purchase Award, Somerstown Gallery, 4th Biennial, NY, USA (1992), Grand Prize in the 3rd Bharat Bhavan Print Biennale (1995), Bengal Foundation Award in the14th National Art Exhibition (1999), Honourable Mention in the 9th Asian Art Biennale (1999), Bangladesh Shilpakla Academy Award in the National Art Exhibition (2002). In 2003, Sultana availed a French government scholarship at L’Atelier Le Couriere et Frelaut in Paris, and in 2017 became an Artist in Residence at Open Print Studio, Toronto Canada. Her works are in the collections of the Bangladesh National Museum; Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy; President’s House, Bangladesh; Bengal Foundation, Dhaka; Genocide Museum & Archive, Khulna, Bangladesh; National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts; Bangladesh Aga Khan Development Network; Blacktown Art Center, Sydney; University of Nebraska; Archives of SGC International at Zuckerman Museum of Art, Georgia; Academy of Art University, San Francisco; The Museum of International Contemporary Graphic, Fredrikstad, Norway; Universal Graphic Museum, Cairo; Jorasanko Thakur Bari, Kolkata; Young One Collection, Korea; among others.