Internationally recognised artist, UNSW Art & Design lecturer and alumni Ramesh Mario Nithiyendran has been prominently featured in the prestigious fourth Dhaka Art Summit (DAS), which just wrapped up in Bangladesh.

Co-commissioned by Dhaka and Sydney's dynamic Artspace, Ramesh’s contribution consisted of mixed-media totemic statues which he described as “deities in drag”. The Australian artist was born in Sri Lanka in 1988 arriving in Australia the following year. Though he states that his work comes from a confident atheist perspective, it is informed by his Hindu and Christian heritage, utilising those reference points mixed with a diverse array of sources including the internet, pornography, fashion and art history.

Ramesh exhibited in Bearing Points, a new initiative comprising large-scale thematic presentations by artists and architects, orienting viewers towards less explored transcultural histories of South Asia. Curated by DAS Chief Curator Diana Campbell Betancourt, Ramesh’s work titled ‘There Once was a Village Here is’ examined what anthropologist Jason Cons describes as “sensitive spaces” – spaces where cultures exist that do not fit the image a nation state has for itself. Here, presenting an exploration of the relationship between national borders, territorial anxiety, and the postcolonial nation-state, Ramesh’s work was a perfect fit, as it traces intersectionality, identity, and heritage. Ramesh's project was a standout feature of the massive exhibition, and was specifically highlighted in a series of reviews of the Summit in infuentential art publications and media. Amongst the field of outstanding artists participating in the week, Ramesh's work was exhibited alongside another UNSW Art & Design alum and rapidly rising art star, Khadim Ali.

Staged every two years, the Dhaka Art Summit is ten days of exhibitions, seminars, lecturers, performances, and workshops, presented at the Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy. It was founded and continues to be supported by local philanthropists the Samdani Art Foundation. In addition to his exhibition, Ramesh was involved in Dhaka in other ways, such as running a workshop teaching morning art-making classes to young children in the education pavilion.

Ramesh Mario Nithiyendran is on a fantastic trajectory, collected and exhibited widely, and has held solo exhibitions at The University of Melbourne's Ian Potter Museum of Art, Shepparton Art Museum, and the National Gallery of Australia, where he’s believed to have been the youngest artist to have ever had a solo show. An altered version of his works presented at Dhaka will feature in high profile Art Basel Hong Kong art fair during March.  

Read more media coverage about the Dhaka Art Summit 2018

Sydney Morning Herald - Dhaka Art Summit 2018: The most unusual 'must-see' on the global art circuit, by John McDonald

The Art Newspaper - Dispatch from Dhaka: five highlights from the fourth Art Summit, by Gareth Harris

Aljazeera - Finding new bearings in uncertain times, via art, by Zaheena Rasheed

Art Asia Pacific - Dhaka Art Summit: Recap of Highlights, by Anushka Rajendran