Sugar Blades Adds Beauty and Gracefulness to the Core of Violence

The solo exhibition is on display at the Aicon Contemporary, New York, USA from December 5, 2019 to January 11, 2020.

Untitled (Gas Mask for the Rich & Famous), 2019

The Bangladesh-based artist Promotesh Das Pulak is endlessly fascinated with the aesthetics of violence – the gracefulness of guns, the beauty of bombs. Like aircraft safety videos, which have gone from being tongue in cheek to outright hilarious, Pulak’s art seems oblivious to that which is at the core of violence, and like swords in the court of Versailles, focused only on the ornamentation. But that, the viewer quickly realizes, is only a way to draw us in, to make us think.

Untitled (For a pretty small explosion), 2019

Pulak questions the rising tide of religiosity in Bangladesh, a country founded on diversity. This tide, like his ornamental AK 47 machine gun, uses divine, some would say beautiful, citation of scripture, to justify a narrow bigoted vision. It is a sweet blade, which cuts deep into the fabric of Bangladeshi society. “Sugar Blades” is a verbatim translation of a Bangla phrase, something like a coup de grace delivered with a smile.

Untitled (For Small Medium Large Fires), 2019

In Sugar Blades Pulak continues to use his signature white flowers made from a reed native to the Gangetic delta, shola. In a departure from before, he does not stop there. He draws upon a long history of golden embellishment of weapons of war, and works with traditional goldsmiths to create metallic floral patterns on gas masks, hand grenades, and the like. The ornamentation is so fantastic that it eclipses these objects, which maim and kill. The art, like the society that it holds up a mirror to, blinds us to the underlying pain with an overlay of gilt.

Pulak was born in 1980 in Bangladesh. He completed his MFA in 2004 from the Faculty of Fine Art, University of Dhaka and was trained as a painter. Promotesh Das Pulak’s work was in the 54th Venice Biennale, in the Bangladeshi Pavilion. He was the runner-up in the sculpture category, for the prestigious Asia-wide Prudential Eye Awards in 2016. He has exhibited in Bangladesh, India, Singapore, the United States, and other countries.