Durjoy Rahman Joy is an avid art collector. His largest collection includes the artworks of contemporary Bangladeshi master painters, Indian great masters, Western contemporary artists and a number of promising Bangladeshi painters. His collection now exceeds 800 works of art. He has visited many art fairs, festivals and biennales around the world. The collector said, “Art should not be considered as an investment but purely a hobby. I always feel that the effort involved in collecting and the pleasure of owning major works by important artists is very satisfying. Though the Bangladesh art market is underpriced, seeing art as a future investment takes away all the fun of acquiring a work.”
Durjoy Rahman Joy | Art collector with an edge
Joy started collecting paintings in the early 1990s. Ever since, he keeps some criteria in mind — quality, historical and philosophical aspect of the artwork and its aesthetic value. Joy said, “As a collector, I try to impart a message through my collection. I tend to explain it in this way: an artist is creating a sign, and the collector at a certain point is taking these signs and putting them together to give another message; the collector is creating something novel and refreshing, while expressing himself too. I ask the work of art to speak on my behalf. The immense joy is that I don’t need to go to the museum every time, I can be here, look around and feel lucky to live in my personal museum.”
Bangladeshi painter Rafiqun Nabi is one of his favourite artists. Joy is probably the largest painting collector of this veteran artist. Aminul Islam is another of his admired painters. Joy said, “Although artist Aminul Islam inspired me, artist Rafiqun Nabi inspired me the most since I have spent many hours with these two senior artists and tried to understand their lives, devotion and struggle that helped to build my collection. Nabi is an artist who adheres to experimental realism. Blending romanticism and impressionism, he does figurative work. On the other hand, Islam’s powerful drawings reveal his mastery over lines and superb composition skills. Islam made an immense contribution by introducing modern paintings in Bangladesh.”
Among contemporary Bangladeshi painters, Joy has a great fascination for Murtaja Baseer’s works. He said, “Elegance, simplicity, serenity are the prime traits of Baseer’s paintings. I also like his application of colour and the separation of colours in his paintings. Though I have large of collection of Rafiqun Nabi and Murtaja Baseer, I feel it is not the number but quality that should determine the collector’s strength. The definition of the collector does not mean that person has to possess a large collection or buy in volume.”
Joy has a rich collection of veteran painter Samarjit Roy Chowdhury. He said, “I collected some of his paintings from different sources. My wife learned drawing from him and got the opportunity to collect some of his extraordinary works.”
Joy has a number of artworks of Quamrul Hassan in different mediums of several periods. He has also a fascination for Shahabuddin’s paintings and owns a number of oil paintings of the painter from 1972 to 2010. He collected most of them from the painter in Paris.
About Joy’s collection, veteran artist Rafiqun Nabi said, “He is a delightful and passionate collector. His collection has been enriched with many internationally acclaimed artists’ works. Joy’s collection has an extraordinary trait in that he collects the series of works of his preferred artists. He visits several recognised auction houses and purchases painting from them. He enjoys visiting art galleries and museums in the countries he travels to, in order to get familiar with the art and the art movement of those countries. I have observed he always takes meticulous care of his paintings.”
Joy is very optimistic about Bangladeshi art. He said, “I see a very promising future for Bangladesh since many young professionals and business people are significantly contributing in collecting and promoting the art scene. Then the old custodians are no way staying behind in the race. So combining all this I see a great boom in the art scene and the art market in the country.”
Several Indian artists like Akbar Padamsee, Ram Kumar, Jamini Roy, Nandalal Bose, Subramanyam, Jogen Chowdhury, Paritosh Sen, Sunil Das, Bijen Chowdhury, MF Hussain, Sanat Kar and a number of European artists Pablo Picasso, Francis Bacon, David Hockney, Henry Moore, Andy Warhol and Lucian Freud have also enriched his collections. Most of his paintings are on display at his permanent “Winners Gallery” at Baridhara in the capital. The gallery won the Nokia Best Award for Architecture in 2009.
About Joy’s valuable collection, eminent art critic and architect Shamsul Wares said, “Joy is not a simple collector. He has a great zeal for collecting rare works which are not familiar to art aficionados. He has tried to blend culture and time with his collection. His collection is not a matter of business. Most of his works have historical and anthological value. He spends generously on procurement of great works of art, not for functional gain but to satisfy the internal need of his soul.”