ZAINUL ABEDIN’S BIRTH CENTENARY

Museum displays 100 artworks of Shilpacharya

Cultural Correspondent
A display of Zainul Abedin’s famous artworks at the Bangladesh National Museum. –Snigdha Zaman

A display of Zainul Abedin’s famous artworks at the Bangladesh National Museum. –Snigdha Zaman

The opportunity to see the most celebrated original works of shilpacharya Zainul Abedin under a single roof does not present itself every day.
Bangladesh National Museum is displaying selected 100 artworks of the master artist from its collection of Zainul’s 807 master pieces as part of the national programme that celebrates the artist’s birth centenary.
The three-week exhibition will be inaugurated today by the prime minister Sheikh Hasina at the Nalinikanta Bhattashali gallery at national museum this evening. The programme also features a commemorative lecture on Zainul by educationist and art critic by Borhanuddin Khan Jahangir.
Besides, faculty of fine arts of Dhaka University is celebrating Zainul’s birth centenary with a month-long programme. Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy and Bengal Foundation have also taken year-long celebration programmes for the same purpose.
But, Zainul’s family members observe that the government and private organisations should take initiatives to preserve his artworks for the future generations and make his art related dreams come true.
Zainul widow Jahanara Abedin told New Age, ‘It’s a good thing that the museum is displaying his works’. But she also expressed her concerns over the technical shortcomings of museum to preserve artworks.
Among the entries on display at the Nalinikanta Bhattashali gallery at the museum are Zainul’s famous scroll paintings Monpura and Nobanno, famine sketches and many others.
The 65 feet Nobanno is a narrative scroll, where Zainul has depicted diverse stories of rural Bengal. Stories like village people working on fields, harvesting, their festivals and wedding ceremonies are in the powerful painting which ends with the depiction of the villagers’ journey towards towns. In that way, Zainul, in his signature thick black lines and minimum use of colours, paints not only the beauty of rural Bengal but also the painful reality.
Another narrative scroll on display is Monpura. The 28 feet scroll shows the devastating cyclone that hit the country in 1970. Dead humans, animals and trees all are laid in a way that gives the impression that the cyclone has just passed over them. The optimistic Zainul, however, paints a man sitting at the end of the scroll as if to suggest man can be devastated, but cannot be defeated.
Art enthusiasts will also find it a privilege to see a few famine sketches that Zainul drew in 1943. One of the sketches, done in black ink on paper, portrays a desiccated body of a famine-struck man lying, with two crows perched on the body pecking for food; a similarly starved dog is also searching for food. Another masterpiece of the master artist on display is Anusheelan (The Struggle). The sketch shows the struggles of life through a man trying to free a cart stuck in mud.
‘We have tried to display works that represent Zainul’s versatility and range of works, along with some popular ones’, said Jahangir Hossain, keeper of national museum.
Educationist Borhanuddin Khan Jahangir in his memorial lecture titled ‘Zainul Abedin-er Dike Phire Phire Takai’ will highlight different aspects of Zainul Abedin including his life, works, styles, commitment to society and efforts for preserving tradition and achievement as an administrator.

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