Basharat Bashir

Art Space

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Artist in the making…

Mohammad Iqbal

Hailing from Chanapora, Tangmarg, a village in North Kashmirs district Baramulla, Iqbal is a 6th class student of Government Middle school Chanapora. Like most of the schools of our State this school is yet another sad story of sorts and complements the overall inadequate and an all-exclusive  educational curriculum besides bad infrastructure. The school lacks in the basic facilities and is fenced so tight to the walls that children have nearly no space to breath, leave aside any space for games. Such is the condition that  students often resort to playing on the nearby road.

Iqbal is a gifted child with an amazing perception and a skillful hand. He has found Art as a tool for his expression and as soon as he finishes his homework he grabs his sketchbook to portray his mesmerizing world. Despite having almost no means of appreciation and encouragement Iqbal has developed an immense love for  painting and drawing.

“I along with my friend carry our sketchbooks along with us to the school and whenever we get any chance we start our sketching”. Iqbal says adding that it would be great if Art classes were added to our educational curriculum students would love it. “I love painting and drawing and I found   ‘Arts in Life Initiative Foundation’ (ALIF) which is  a few minutes walkiing distance from my home to be a great place that provided me with space to practice my painting and refined my skill” Iqbal said’.

Not everyone can afford to send their children to private schools with lofty fee structure. Our children are our future and our Government must provide for them better institutions where they can have better facilities. Besides learning to read and to write facilities must be provided in our Government Schools so that they can experience, learn and develop different mediums of expression.


Featured artist…


Zainul Abedin

Abedin  was born in Kishoreganj, East Bengal on 29 December 1914 . He was the avant-garde of modern art in Bangladesh. He was internationally acclaimed for his artistic style and visionary qualities. As an artist he was distinct in every respect. An artist of exceptional talent and international repute, Zainul Abedin  played a pioneering role in the modern art movement in Bangladesh. The movement that began, by all accounts, with the formation of Government Institute of Arts and Crafts (now Institute of Fine Arts) in 1948 in Dhaka of which he was the founding principal.

Among all the contemporary works of Abedin, his famine sketches of the 1940s are his most remarkable works. Abedin was moved by the misery of the starving people and their suffering. As an Artist and as a human being he felt that suffering and led it out as an expression in the form of his sketches. to potray  the miserable condition of people He made his own ink by burning charcoal and used it on cheap, ordinary packing paper. Abedin not only documented the famine, he also revealed the famine’s sinister face through the skeletal figures of people fated to die of starvation. Abedin depicted this inhuman story with very human emotions. These drawings became iconic images of human sufferingHe created his famine painting set, which, when exhibited in 1944, brought him even more critical acclaim.  These sketches helped him find his way in a realistic approach that focused on the human suffering, struggle and protest. He was more socially aware focusing on the working class and their struggles.

One of Abedins scroll painting ‘Manpura’ is another example of his humanistic approach to art. this work was dedicated to hundreds of thousands of the people who died in the devastating cyclone of 1970. He was involved in the Bengali Language Movement of East Pakistan and also in the Bangladesh liberation war movement. Zainul Abedin played an enormous role in the cultural movement to re-establish the Bengali identity, marginalized by the Pakistan government. In 1969, Abedin painted a scroll using Chinese ink, watercolor and wax named Nabanna. This was to celebrate the ongoing non-cooperation movement.

Much of his childhood was spent near the scenic banks of theBrahmaputra river. The 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 Abedin did as his tribute to the 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 1933, Abedin was admitted to Calcutta Government Art School in Calcutta. After learning British/European academic style for five years in this Art school he joined the faculty of the same school after his graduation. Zainul Abedin became the first Muslim student to obtain first class distinction from the school.He was dissatisfied with the oriental style and the limitations of European academic style and this led him towards realism.

Zainul Abedin’s works throughout the fifties and sixties reflected his preference for realism, his aesthetic discipline, his predilection for folk forms and primary colours. Increasingly, however, he came to realise the limitations of folk art its lack of dimensionality, its flat surface, an absence of the intricate relationship between light and shade, and their lack of dynamism. As a way of transcending these limitations, Zainul went back to nature, to rural life, and the daily struggles of man, and to a combination of styles that would be realistic in essence, but modernist in appearance.

After completing his two years of training from an art school in London, he began a new style, the “Bengali style”, where the main features were: folk forms with their geometric shapes, sometimes semi-abstract representation, and the use of primary colors. But he lacked the sense of perspective. Later he realized the limitations of folk art, so he went back to the nature, rural life and the daily struggles of man to make art that would be realistic but modern in appearance.

Zainul Abedin  was well known for his leadership qualities in organizing artists and art activities in a place that had practically no recent history of institutional or professional art. It was through the efforts of Zainul Abedin along with few of his colleagues that a tradition of Modern Art took shape in Bangladesh just within a decade. For his artistic and visionary qualities the title of Shilpacharya (great teacher of Art) has been bestowed on him. Zainul Abedin died in on 28 May 1976 in Dhaka.

In 2009, a crater on the planet Mercury was named Abedin after the painter.His birthday was celebrated in Bangladesh, with a festival in Dhaka University and children’s art competition in Shilpacharya Zainul Abedin Sangrahashala (art gallery). His sketch was auctioned at auction house Bonhams. Zainul Abedin Museum in Mymensingh, Bangladesh is dedicated to his work.

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