Zainul Abedin was a Bangladesh painter, born in Mymensingh, East Bengal, on December 29, 1914. Like many of his contemporaries, His paintings on the Bengal famine of 1943 is probably his most characteristic work. In Bangladesh, he is referred with honor as Shilpacharya (Great Teacher of the Arts).

Much of his childhood was spent near the scenic banks of the Brahmaputra River. The Brahmaputra would later appear in many of his paintings and be a source of inspiration all throughout his career. In 1933, Abedin was admitted to Calcutta Government Art School in Kolkata. He joined the faculty of the school after his education there was completed. A series of watercolours 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 award gave Abedin the confidence to create his own visual style.

The man-made Great Bengal Famine of 1943 moved Zainul deeply. He created his famine paintings, which, when exhibited in 1944, brought him even more critical acclaim. He was an influential member of the Calcutta Group of progressive artists.

He was involved in all stages of liberation war movement that finally made the creation of Bangladesh possible. 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 Nobanno. This was to celebrate the ongoing non-cooperation movement.

In 1975, he founded the Folk Art Museum at Sonargaon, near Dhaka, and Zainul Abedin Sangrahashala, a gallery of his own works in Mymensingh. Abedin developed lung cancer towards the end of his life and died on May 28, 1976 in Dhaka. Two faces was his last painting, painted shortly before his demise. In 1982, 17 of the 70 pictures housed in Zainul Abedin Sangrahashala were stolen. Only 10 were later recovered.

  • 1938, All India Art Exhibitions at Calcutta
  • 1944, exhibition on 1943 Famine, Calcutta
  • 1946, exhibition of Muslim Artists, Calcutta
  • 1951, exhibition of Paintings and Brush Drawings at the Imperial Institute, London
  • 1952, Berkley Gallery, London
  • Traveling exhibitions in Belgium, Paris, Ankara and Istanbul
  • 1953, exhibition at Lahore, Pakistan
  • 1955, Karachi
  • 1957, Smithsonian Institute, Washington D.C., USA
  • 1970, 'Life in Bangladesh', a 65 ft scroll exhibited at "Nabanna" (The Harvest), an exhibition of Artists at Dhaka
  • 1970, exhibitions of his works on the Guerrilla War in many Arab cities to encourage the PLO fighters
  • ‘Governor’s Gold Medal' in the All India Art Exhibition - 1938 for a group of watercolor landscapes, mostly on the river Brahmaputra
  • Life Membership of fazlul Huq Hall, Dhaka University in 1958
  • “Pride of Performance" the highest award for creative artists by the President of Pakistan in 1959
  • “Hilal-i-Imtiaz", a civilian title by the Pakistan Government in 1959 and, later, denounced the title in 1971
  • "Gold Medal" by the then USSR Government in 1961
  • Visiting Professor of Fine Arts, Peshawar University, Pakistan
  • Judge of the Biennale Exhibition of RCD countries at Tehran, Iran in 1966
  • Honorary President of Bangla Academy, 1972-74
  • Visiting Professor of Fine Arts, Dhaka University in 1973
  • Member of the Congress for World Unity in Philadelphia, USA in 1974
  • National Professor of Bangladesh in 1974
  • D. Litt by the University of Delhi, India.

This biography is licensed under the GFDL. It uses material from the Wikipedia article Zainul Abedin

Wikipedia: Zainul Abedin

Vaslart: Zainul Abedin
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