BMW Art Guide by Independent Collectors

Nadia & Rajeeb Samdani

Samdani Art Foundation (SAF), Dhaka, Bangladesh

Rajeeb and Nadia Samdani
Rajeeb and Nadia Samdani

When exactly did you buy your first contemporary artwork? How important is having the title of “collector” to you?

We bought our first contemporary artwork about 15 years ago. We started our journey as collectors and now our journey expanded into contributing to the creation of contemporary art through the projects and programmes our foundation produces, and the learning that comes with supporting curatorial research.

Your collection is centred around modern and contemporary art from Bangladesh and South Asian artists. Why did you decide to open your private home and collection to public view? What is your mission with the foundation?

There is no modern or contemporary art museum in Bangladesh. Art enthusiasts rarely have opportunity to see works by South Asian and International artists under one roof with curatorial integrity and rigour. We have opened up our collection to the public view, in the hope that it will help the public as well as artists to learn, study and understand international contemporary art, without needing to have the privileged position of being able to set foot outside of Bangladesh. Our home contains a mix of South Asian and International works, which are rotated every 18 months, so if anyone visits our home once every 2 years, they get to experience new artists works and themes found in the collection hang. We also try to curate our displays thinking about the connection between the works or the connection between the artists.

What has been the most challenging work of art in your collection, either for yourself or the public?

We have quite a few works that can be considered challenging in terms of space. There are works that need huge space, for example Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster’s work M.2062 (Fitzcarraldo), 2014 is a holographic projection video which needs it’s own dedicated large room to display. We have Cardiff & Miller’s 72 channel audio installation piece Experiment in F# Minor, 2013 that needs an adequate space to enjoy the work. Shazia Sikander’s The Singing Suns, 2016 video projection needs at least a seven meter wall space and equally viewing range.

We are building a permanent space for works like these in Srihatta-Samdani Art Centre and Sculpture Park in Sylhet. The art centre will be open for anyone who wants to visit and see our collection – and we’re working hard to install and share these works for the first time in Bangladesh.

Bunmi Agusto, Braided Labyrinth X, 2021
Bunmi Agusto, Braided Labyrinth X, 2021
Bunmi Agusto,Wandering II, 2021
Bunmi Agusto,Wandering II, 2021

During the pandemic, have you been frequenting OVRs or is your decision to buy a piece of art, intertwined with physicality?

We have always been frequenting OVRs as galleries are all over the world and physically it is not possible to be present always. We very much enjoy looking at art physically but that does not always happen.

Tell us briefly about the Dhaka Art Summit that your foundation initiated in 2012. How does this differ to a Biennale or an art fair?

We started Dhaka Art Summit in 2012 in hopes to provide a platform to Bangladeshi and South Asian artists. Our target was to bring international curators, critics, artists, collectors and museums to come and see the amazing works by the Bangladeshi artists who were undiscovered due to lack of international presence or interest in Bangladesh. There are plenty of biennales and art fairs around the world. So, we had to think about a new format which would attract public and professional audiences alike from all over the world. That is how Dhaka Art Summit was developed. We have mix of several curated exhibitions, along with symposiums, talk programmes, workshops, collective presentations as well as art mediation for the general public to interact with artworks. Although we started the platform for South Asian art, by now DAS has expanded into a platform that looks into the connection between Bengal and rest of the world. We also keep experimenting, breaking and shuffling the format in each edition.

How would you describe the Bangladeshi art market to someone completely new to it?

Bangladesh does not have any formal art market the way we see in other countries. It is quite tough for the artists to survive by only selling their works. Although there are buyers for traditional and commercial works, the contemporary works do not have any market value here – the market is found in India or abroad. Although we do have Bangladeshi collectors who acquire contemporary art, they are few in number. This also means, the young artists gets the opportunity to experiment with their works without thinking about the selling value as their main sources of income are not from the sales of art.

Ayesha Sultana, Untitled, 2021, oil on canvas. Courtesy The Artist & Experimenter, Kolkata
Ayesha Sultana, Untitled, 2021, oil on canvas. Courtesy The Artist & Experimenter, Kolkata
Marina Perez Simão, Untitled, 2020
Marina Perez Simão, Untitled, 2020
Shezad Dawood, In the Night Garden (Study), 2020
Shezad Dawood, In the Night Garden (Study), 2020

What would you like to see shift in the Art World post pandemic?

During the pandemic we realised all the things we had taken for granted, like visiting galleries, museums, artist studios. For us, now we appreciate the art world more and supporting younger struggling artists.

What is a beautiful moment from the Samdani Art Foundation, or your life as a collector that you would like to share with us?

We have quite a lot of moments we are proud of. But one stands out the most, to see Ayesha Sultana, who won our Samdani Art Award in 2014 and who was virtually unknown to the international art scene at the time, now becoming one of the most sought after artists of South Asia and making her way into museum collections including Tate, QAGOMA, and others.

Which publicly accessible private collections would you recommend visiting?

We love visiting Pinault’s collection at Punta Della Dogana and Palazzo Grassi, and that collection has also been a lender to Dhaka Art Summit. We always enjoy seeing the Kiran Nadar Museum in New Delhi, which also has works by Ayesha Sultana in its collection.

Emma Cousin, Swan Dive, 2020
Emma Cousin, Swan Dive, 2020

Images courtesy of the Samdani Art Foundation

More Information on Samdani Art Foundation

Collectors (61)

Galila Barzilaï-Hollander

Galila's P.O.C., Brussels, Belgium

Martin Margulies

The Margulies Collection at the Warehouse – Miami, United States of America

Christine and Andrew Hall

Hall Art Foundation - Reading, USA & Derneburg, Germany

Qiao Zhibing

TANK Shanghai and Qiao Space - Shanghai, China

Christen Sveaas

Kistefos Museet, Jevnaker, Norway

Noemi Givon

Givon Art Forum – Tel Aviv, Israel

Michael Buxton

Buxton Contemporary - Melbourne, Australia

Seth Stolbun

The Stolbun Collection – Houston, USA

Jochen Zeitz

Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (Zeitz MOCAA) - Cape Town, Africa

Dominique & Sylvain Levy

DSLCollection – Paris, France

Andrea von Goetz

Sammlung Blankenburg – Hamburg, Germany

Gordon Elliott

The Elliott Eyes Collection - Sydney, Australia

The Vague Space

Christian Kaspar Schwarm on the first solo presentation of his collection at the Weserburg Bremen

Anita Zabludowicz

Zabludowicz Collection – London, United Kingdom

Anastasios A. Gkekas

The Office Collection - Nicosia, Cyprus

Rik Reinking

WAI - Woods Art Institute, Wentorf bei Hamburg, Germany

Maria Didrichsen

Didrichsen Art Museum – Helsinki, Finland

João Carlos de Figueiredo Ferraz

Instituto Figueiredo Ferraz (IFF) - São Paulo, Brazil

Julia Stoschek

Julia Stoschek Collection – Dusseldorf, Germany

Maurizio Morra Greco

Fondazione Morra Greco, Naples, Italy

Christian & Karen Boros

Sammlung Boros – Berlin, Germany

Timo Miettinen

Salon Dahlmann – Berlin, Germany

Marli Hoppe-Ritter

Sammlung Marli Hoppe-Ritter – Waldenbuch, Germany

Désiré Feuerle

The Feuerle Collection – Berlin, Germany

Gudrun & Bernd Wurlitzer

Wurlitzer Pied A Terre Collection – Berlin, Germany

Corbett Lyon

Lyon Housemuseum – Melbourne, Australia

Geert Verbeke-Lens

Verbeke Foundation – Kemzeke, Belgium

László Vass

Vass Collection – Veszprém, Hungary

Daisuke Miyatsu

Dream House – Ichikawa, Japan

Samara Walbohm & Joe Shlesinger

Scrap Metal Gallery – Toronto, Canada

Charles Riva

Charles Riva Collection – Brussels, Belgium

Venke & Rolf Hoff

KaviarFactory – Lofoten, Norway

Alain Servais

Servais Family Collection – Brussels, Belgium

Ivo Wessel

Sammlung Ivo Wessel - Berlin, Germany

Ramin Salsali

Salsali Private Museum – Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Vittorio Gaddi

Collezione Nunzia e Vittorio Gaddi – Lucca, Italy

Miguel Leal Rios

Fundação Leal Rios – Lisbon, Portugal

Gertraud and Dieter Bogner

Kunstraum Buchberg – Gars am Kamp, Austria

Bob Rennie

Rennie Collection at Wing Sang – Vancouver, Canada

Heiner Wemhöner

Sammlung Wemhöner – Herford, Germany

Lin Han

M WOODS – Beijing, China

Kenny Goss

The Goss-Michael Foundation – Dallas, USA

Karsten Schmitz

Arbeitswohnung Federkiel – Leipzig, Germany

Devon Dikeou

The Dikeou Collection - Denver, USA

Thomas Olbricht

ME Collectors Room Berlin/Stiftung Olbricht – Berlin, Germany

Mera & Donald Rubell

Rubell Family Collection – Miami, USA

Pétur Arason

Safn – Berlin, Germany / Reykjavík, Iceland

Steffen Hildebrand

G2 Kunsthalle – Leipzig, Germany

Rafaela Seppälä

RKF Collection – Helsinki, Finland

Frédéric de Goldschmidt

Frédéric de Goldschmidt – Brussels, Belgium

Daniel Teo

The Private Museum – Singapore, Singapore

Claudio Cosma

Sensus – Luoghi per l’arte Contemporanea – Florence, Italy

Michał Borowik

Michał Borowik Collection – Warsaw, Poland

Herbert Gerisch

Herbert-Gerisch-Stiftung - Neumünster, Germany

José Berardo

Museu Coleção Berardo – Lisbon, Portugal

Bärbel Grässlin and Karola Kraus

Sammlung Grässlin - St. Georgen, Germany

Joëlle and Eric Romba

Rocca Stiftung – Berlin, Germany

Myriam and Amaury de Solages

Maison Particulière – Brussels, Belgium

Friedrich Gräfling

Sammlung Fiede - Aschaffenburg, Germany

Benjamin Genocchio

Fair Director at The Armory Show