e-Book: Dacca Days

Pacita Abad's Paintings in Bangladesh, Text by Jack Garrity

Pacita was perhaps the first foreign painter to come to live in the newly independent Bangladesh when she and Jack took up residence in Dacca near the edge of Dhanmondi Lake. It was certainly a dramatic shift from living in a studio next to the Chelsea Hotel in New York and painting at the Art Students League.

On arrival in Dacca in 1978 Pacita quickly set up a studio in her home and at first was not sure what she would paint. She had been drawing nude models at art school in New York, so she thought she would continue this in Dacca.

Pacita then went to the nearby Shilpakala Academy where she met artist and its director Syed Jahangir, who gave her the contact of Bidana, the school's model. He also introduced her to the work of a number of Bangladeshi artists, and two in particular had a big impact on Pacita's work. The first was the legendary Zainul Abedin, whose powerful paintings of Bengal famines inspired her. The second was Surayia Rahman, who introduced Pacita to the Bengali stitched art of kantha, which influenced her mixed-media trapunto paintings.

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