Today is the 45th death anniversary of Shilpacharya Zainul Abedin. Different cultural organisations have arranged elaborates programmes to mark the day.
Besides, satellite television channels will air special programmes to pay tribute to the legend.Zainul Abedin was born on December 29 in 1914 in Kishoreganj. He had earned considerable degree of fame during the early 30s while still a student of Calcutta Govt Art College.
Zainul Abedin became well known in 1944 through his series of paintings depicting some of the great famines in Bengal during its British colonial period. After partition he moved to Pakistan; and finally when Bangladesh was created in 1971, he was rightly considered the founding father of Bangladeshi art.
He was an artist of exceptional talent and international repute. Like many of his contemporaries, his painting on the Bengal famine of 1943 is probably his most characteristic work.
In Bangladesh, he is referred with honour as Shilpacharya (Great Teacher of the Arts) in Bangladesh for his artistic and visionary qualities.
Much of his childhood was spent near the scenic banks of the Brahmaputra River. Brahmaputra would later appear in many of his paintings and be a source of inspiration all throughout his career.
Many of his works framed Brahmaputra and a series of watercolors that Zainul did as his tribute to the Brahmaputra River earned him the Governor's Gold Medal in an all-India exhibition in 1938. This was the first time when he came under spotlight and this award gave Abedin the confidence to create his own visual style.In 1948 he, and with the help of few of his colleagues, founded an art institute in Dhaka. That time there were no art institute present in Dhaka and he was the founding principal of that institute.
Abedin was involved in the Bangladesh liberation war movement. He was in the forefront of the cultural movement to re-establish the Bengali identity, marginalised by the Pakistan government.
In 1969, Abedin painted a scroll using Chinese ink, watercolour and wax named Nabanna. This was to celebrate the ongoing non-cooperation movement.
The important role of Zainul in later period as an artist-cum-teacher at the same college was highly commendable. The world-famous paintings on famine and poverty were a milestone in the career of the soft-spoken artist whose humble qualities and admiring features of compassion, self-sacrifice and sincerity were worthmentioning.
Shilpacharya Zainul Abedin breathed his last on May 28 in 1976 at the age of 61.