Tayeba Begum Lipi

Article Bio Works Merits Images
body, capitalism, colonialism, history, humanity, identity
Visual Arts (collage, mixed media, painting)
Asia, Southern and Central, Europe, Nordic, Europe, Western, America, North
Bangladesh, Finland, Germany, Canada
created on:
February 13, 2006
last changed on:
Please note: This page has not been updated since June 9, 2006. We decided to keep it online because we think the information is still valuable.
information provided by:
Tayeba Begum Lipi


Tayeba Begum Lipi

Lipi focusses on the human cost of the contemporary and past manoeuvrings of international governments and companies both in Bangladesh and elsewhere. She uses rhymes and stories from childhood that are born out the societies such as her own that have suffered at the hands of colonnialism and trade restrictions to create iconic pastiches that are reminiscent of historical portraiture.
Tayeba Begum Lipi was born in 1969 in Gaibanha, Bangledesh. Winner of the Grand Prize at the 11th Asian Arts Biennale in 2004, she is a leading light in the Bangladeshi art scene with a growing international reputation. Her work stretches across a broad range of media and reflects a desire to engage with as wide an audience as possible.

Primarily working with paint, print and installation, Lipi’s art often involves portraiture and feminine iconography (such as mannequins and dolls) to explore themes around the nature of female identity. Her piece, ‘My Childhood’ (2003; winner of the AAB prize) playfully demonstrates many of her ideas: a large, painted self-portrait is veiled behind a series of neatly ordered dolls; the smiling, white skinned dolls serve to contrast with the enigmatic expression of her own image and raise questions about childhood role models, femininity and race.

For Lipi, as a South Asian female artist working in a strongly male dominated society, the personal must inevitably betray the political; indeed, the turbulent political history of Bangladesh (the war of independence from Pakistan in the 1970’s; the military dictatorship of the 1980’s; governmental corruption, widespread poverty and overcrowding) is a factor which informs the work of many of her Dhaka based contemporaries (not least, that of her husband, the artist Mahbubur Rahman). The socio-political element to Lipi’s work can also be seen in the context of her Damascene conversion to the life of an artist: an accidental painter, she only decided to pursue art during the mid 1980’s, following a chance visit to the Institute of Fine Art at Dhaka University, having originally intended to follow a career in journalism. Despite this change of destiny, Lipi retained a journalist’s eye for the topical and the ability to relate wider issues through the lens of her own experiences; a quality that also lends itself to an underlying theme in her work concerning the tension between artist and society. Furthermore, this conceptual concern finds a parallel in her formal experimentation with artwork and audience. One example of this is her piece ‘Toys Are Watching Toys’ (2004), where life-sized, burkha clad dummies are seated before a large oil portrait of three glamorous, realistically painted, female faces. With a silent covenant between the gaze of the faces in the portrait and those of their ersatz spectators, the real audience becomes unsure as to exactly how complicit their own presence is in the structure of the work; the act of looking itself coming under scrutiny.

In an effort to resolve some of the tensions highlighted in her work, Lipi has also sought to encourage social engagement with art, promoting workshops where both the public and other artists can interact with one another. The strongest realisation of her commitment to this is shown by her involvement with (and continued coordination of) the Britto Arts Trust, a Dhaka based, non-profit, initiative that she co-founded (along with her husband and several other artists) in 2001. Set up to encourage the Dhaka art scene, Britto is also part of the international Triangle Arts Trust workshop and residency network, and as such helps to foster international relationships and cross-cultural dialogue between artistic communities.

Most recently, Lipi completed a residency at the Gasworks exhibition space in London, developing new work and coordinating programmes that further explored her concerns.
Author: Cate Rickards


Lipi is from Northern Bangladesh and attended the Institute of Fine Art in the University of Dhaka for an M.F.A in drawing and painting in 1993.

Lipi has shown extensively in Dhaka, taking part in Group and solo shows. She has had her work in the 11th Asian Biennale in 2003/4 and is currently working on a project for this year´s event. Internationally Lipi has shown work in Japan, Canada, Myanmar, Finland and Germany. She lives and works in Dhaka and is working as coordinator for the Britto Arts Trust.



Exhibition / Installation
2006 12th Asian Art Biennale organized by Bangladesh Shilapakala Academy. 2005 15th National Art Exhibition organized by the Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy. The exhibition of the outcomes of Collaborative Workshop at La Galerie, Alliance Francaise, Dhaka organized by Britto Arts Trust. 2004 11th Asian Art Biennale 2003, organized by Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy. Contemporary Artists of Dhaka, Gallery NICA, Yangon, Myanmar. 2003 Exhibition of 7 women artists arranged by British Council Dhaka. Exhibition of 28 women artists at Bengal Gallery of Fine Arts, Dhaka. LAAL The passion of Zahoor Ul Akhlaq, Gallery of Mississauga, Ontario, Canada. 2002 ‘Impression 17’, a group art exhibition at Gallery 21 jointly organized by the German Embassy and Gallery 21. 13th young Artists’ Art Exhibition at Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy, Dhaka, Bangladesh. 14th National Art Exhibition ´Artificial Reality´, an installation show together with artist Mahbun organized by the Shilpakala Academybur Rahman at La Galerie, Alliance Francaise de Dacca. 2001 A grand group exhibition of the women artists of Bangladesh organised by the Bengal Shilpalay, Dhaka, Bangladesh. 2nd Contemporary Young Artists Exhibition from Bangladesh, Gallery Kusabue, Japan. 10th Asian Art Biennale, Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy, Dhaka. 2000 International Interactive show “Translation, Displacement and Actualisation” in the Gallery “68elf” Cologne, Germany, supported by the International Forum for Inter-media Arts. Environmental Art, Performance and Installation Show “Veri-nice-saari 2000” at Naissaari in the municipality of Jyvaskyla organised by the Arts Council of Central Finland. “1st Art Biennale” organised by Bangladesh Charu-Shilpi Sangsad. ´´Artists of the Millennium´´ a group exhibition organised by Gallery´21, Dhaka, Bangladesh. 1999 Departmental painting Exhibition on the Occasion of the 50th Anniversary of the Institute of Fine Art, University of Dhaka, Bangladesh. 9th Asian Biennale organised by Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy, Dhaka, Bangladesh. Second group Exhibition of “Reflection” at Birla Academy of Art and Culture, Calcutta, India. 1998-99 Five young Artists Exhibition at Sirjana Contemporary Art Gallery Nepal and Manju Art Gallery, Dhaka 1998 12th young Artists’ Art Exhibition at Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy, Dhaka, Bangladesh. 4th Anniversary Exhibition arranged by Shilpangon Art Gallery, Dhaka, Bangladesh. 13th National Art Exhibition organised by Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy, Dhaka. 1997 “Art for Amnesty” Exhibition organised by Amnesty International Bangladesh Section, Dhaka. A Group Water Colour show of 10 young Artists, Zainul Gallery, Dhaka. Environmental Art camp 96-97 and Exhibition at Zainul Gallery, Dhaka 1995-96 “2nd Tone Miniature Art Competition” organised by Gallery Tone, Dhaka. 2nd Anniversary Exhibition organised by Gallery Shilpangon, Dhaka. First group Exhibition of “Reflection”, Gallery Tone, Dhaka. 11th Young Artists Art Exhibition, Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy. Exhibitions of Five Bangladeshi Artists at Sirjana Contemporary Art Gallery,Kathmandu,Nepal and Zainul Gallery, Dhaka, Bangladesh. Nepal Bangladesh Art Camp Exhibition’95 by Nepalese & Bangladeshi Artists at the Trichandra campus Auditorium, Kathmandu, Nepal. 1st Group Show of Amnesty International Fine Arts Group in Zainul Gallery, Dhaka. Water Colour Workshop’s Exhibition arranged By Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy, Dhaka. 1994 A Travelling Exhibition in south Asia (Nepal, Bhutan, India & Bangladesh) 10th young Artists Art Exhibition Shilpakala Academy, Dhaka, Bangladesh. 2nd and 3rd Painting workshop’s Exhibition organised by Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy. 1987-1999 Participated in all the Annual Art Exhibitions of the Institute of Fine Art, University of Dhaka, Bangladesh


Exhibition / Installation
2004 ‘Even the walls have ears’, Installation show at Alliance Francaise, Dhaka 2001 2nd solo Exhibition at Gallery 21 Dhaka 1998 1st Solo Art Exhibition at the Alliance Francaise de Dhaka


Overseas Residencies:
2005, Gasworks Residency Programme, London.
2004, Residency programme organized by NICA, Yangon, Myanmar.
Residency at the National Workshops for Arts and Crafts, Copenhagen, Denmark.
2000, Residency Programme at IMMA, the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin Ireland.
Residency at Cill Rialaig project, Ballinskelligs, Co. Kerry, Ireland.
Residency Programme at Gallery ’68-elf’ Cologne, Germany.
A short term Residency organized by the Arts Council of Central Finland, Jyvascyla, Finland.
2004, “Grand Prize” at the 11th Asian Art Biennaleof 2003, Bangladesh.
One year Scholarship from the Artist Aminul Islam Trust, Bangladesh.
work produced during Gasworks residency 2005
´The Game´, 2005-2006