A pioneer of modern art movement and education, Zainul Abedin played the most influential role by establishing the country’s first modern art educational institution that finally lent momentum to the modern art movement in this region. His vision of diversity helped inculcate in generations of artists an awareness about contemporary art and traditional forms, said speakers at a seminar held on Saturday at Sufia Kamal Auditorium of Bangladesh National Museum.
The seminar titled ‘Shilpacharya Zainul Abedin: Shilper Shikkhaguru’ was organised by the museum as part of its observation of Zainul Abedin’s 43rd death anniversary, which will be observed on May 28.
Artist Dulal Chandra Gain, associate professor of drawing and painting department at Dhaka University, presented the key-note paper, while artist-professor Dr Farida Zaman, art-critic Mainuddin Khaled and Zainul Abedi’s son Mainul Abedin were present as discussants at the seminar, presided over by artist and chairman of board of trustees of Bangladesh National Museum Hashem Khan.
‘Zainul Abedin played the biggest role in promoting modern fine arts education in the country through the founding of the then Dhaka Art Institute in the then East Pakistan,’ said Dulal Chandra Gain.
‘In the institute, Abedin was very keen to juxtapose the traditional ways and styles of fine arts and the western ones. He was always eager to patronise traditional crafts and paintings at every festival the institute held,’ added Gain.
In his works, the master artist portrayed the lives, struggles and issues of people of this land too, added Gain referring to the artist’s famous famine sketches, santal series, Nabanno and Monpura.
‘Zainul Abedin collected large number of traditional crafts, ceramic works, nakshi kanthas and preserved them. He always promoted our traditional arts and inspired his students to discover new areas and styles of arts as well as the traditional ones,’ said Farida Zaman.
A student of Abedin, Hasem Khan said, ‘Getting Zainul Abedin as a teacher is one of my greatest achievements in life. He was a fatherly figure to all of his students.’
Born on December 29, 1914 in Kishoreganj, Zainul Abedin enrolled at Kolkata Government Art School in 1932 and graduated with distinction. The master artist earned wide recognition and acclamation for his sketches of Bengal famine during the deadly famine in 1943.
He founded the Folk Art Museum at Sonargaon in Narayanganj, and Zainul Abedin Sangrahashala, a gallery of his own works, in Mymensingh in 1975.
The versatile artist died on May 28, 1976 after suffering from lung cancer for a few years.
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