Today is the 25th death anniversary of renowned artist SM Sultan.
SM Sultan Foundation and Narail district administration will observe the day arranging a commemorative at Sultan Smriti Sangrahasala in Narail. The programme will feature Quran khwani at Sultan’s grave, children’s art competition, discussion on the life and works of SM Sultan and more.
SM Sultan was born on August 10, 1923, in Masimdia, Narail. He dropped out of school due to financial constraints at an early age and began working for his father, who was a mason.
He found interest in drawing and painting at an early age. Patronised by Dhirendra Nath Roy, an art-loving zamindar of the village in which he lived, SM Sultan went to study art at the then Kolkata government art college but decided to leave halfway through the six-year course in 1943.
He began his career as a freelance painter of portraits and landscapes in Kolkata where Hasan Shahid Suhrawardy, the elder brother of the Suhrawardy of political fame, gave Sultan shelter and mentored him till he decided to go out on a tour across the subcontinent.
Sultan was highly influenced by the Khaksar movement in 1943, and it was by joining this religious movement that he was said to have developed a holistic approach to life. His lifelong affection for all living things was also developed at this time.
Sultan, known for his nomadic and eccentric lifestyle, portrayed the common rural men and women in his visionary canvasses. What is striking about his work is the muscular depiction of the peasants and rural working men and women.
While still in his twenties, Sultan’s works were shown in Simla of India in 1946, in Lahore and Karachi in 1948-49. He also displayed works in New York, Boston, London and Michigan University in 1959, long before his first exhibition was held in his own country at the Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy in 1976.
Acknowledged by Cambridge University as the Man of Asia in 1982, SM Sultan was conferred with all the major civil awards of Bangladesh. He received the Ekushey Padak in 1982, the Bangladesh Charu Shilpi Sangsad Award in 1986, and the Independence Award in 1993.
He died on October 10, 1994.
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