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Did this year’s milkshake bring the boys and girls to the yard? Qazi Mustabeen Noor investigates, giving you an inside scoop of Dhaka’s most happening art event.

The weather was on the brighter side of gloomy on the 11 August, rain was barely there and traffic at a minimum. Rain, however, was of little concern to the visitors of ‘Milkshake Collective: The Refill.’ This year, the ‘milkshake’ was not served at a yard. Instead, it was at one of Gulshan’s favourite places to have coffee- North End Coffee Roasters. Inclement of weather dared not interfere with all the whimsical art displayed at this spectacular event.
In case you missed it, this one of a kind art exhibition was held from 10-12 August at Cityscape Tower. The Milkshake Collective, which is a result of a joint effort of Liza Hasan and Istela Imam, is an eclectic mix of local talent. Dhaka’s small, yet stellar art scene has diverse talent- from graphic designers to caricaturists, from cartoonists to visual artists. This happens to be Milkshake’s second annual exhibition come meet-and-greet event where enthusiasts can admire the diverse art, support local talent and have a great time.

The Milkshake Collective, organiser of the event, is an eclectic mix of local talent. Dhaka’s small, yet stellar art scene has diverse talent- from graphic designers to caricaturists, from cartoonists to visual artists. 

One look at the subtle lighting and the elated faces of the visitors and artists beaming at everyone was enough to tell me that I was indeed, in an Elysium of art. The humble artist guild nonchalantly said that they are ‘just the little guys shaking things up.’ In my humble opinion, I beg to differ. They were much more than that!

Every single artist brought their own gimmicks to the table. So at ‘Art of Murphy’, artist Saiqua Chowdhury had her whimsical display laid out. The corner dedicated to her had a zoetrope- a spinning wheel of mirrors from the 80s with a story to tell. Clearly fond of a good surprise element, her elegant display showcased exquisite experimental pieces.
Originally a comic book artist and caricaturist, Asifur Rahman popularly known as ‘Arts by Rats’ corner had delightful caricatures of superheroes, celebrities and regular people just having a great time. His favourite, he said was the four-armed Mahakala deity he saw in Nepal.

Another accomplished cartoonist at the venue was Syed Rashad Imam Tonmoy- a veteran of the industry famous for his political satire works. His booth was clearly a crowd favourite.

Inksmith blends futuristic elements and characters from his imagination into the intricate drawings of buildings situated in his neighborhood of old Dhaka. Just to his left, Kazi Istela Imam’s ‘Dhaka Jam’ was being sold with its recipe at the back. IstelaIllustrated along with Imam&Don had this cute little booth with fairy lights, along with some corny greeting cards for someone you would like to make ‘frandship’ with. Istela was particularly happy about the turnout this year and loved the spirit of this melting pot of artists.
To Veevinci, her art was her outlet in her trying times. Her work looked mental health right in the eye as she feels that it is a journey of breaking and recovering. She also delights herself in work focused on European architecture. No wonder her work felt like a trip into Europe’s soul.

Animal lover Saria Saguaro placed a hall of fame of her beloved ‘Wild Cards’- all of them being adorable rescue animals who have found loving homes. The ever cheerful artist behind ‘Pretty Shitty Art’ explains to me how the different artists now have a space to reach out to the public more effectively.

However the list of artists doesn’t quite end right there; the exhibition also included works of Deeory, Dhaka Yeah, Mxnsterr, #esh by Nuhash Humayun, Nuzart, T-pot and Gazi Nafi, Wasi Ahmed, Farah Khandaker Illustrations, Liza’s Brushes as well as a few others. At the end of the day, every moment spent in their bustling company was worth it and its safe to say that the milkshake left behind a pleasant, soothing aftertaste.

Photo Courtesy- Kazi Istela Imam