Quamrul Hassan (1921-1988) was one of the significant painters of Bangladesh, recognised for reintroducing our folk and traditional elements through his art. He was one of the founders of Dacca Art College (now the Faculty of Fine Arts, University of Dhaka). He was an influential artist working in almost all media -- like oil, gouache, watercolours, pastel, etching, woodcut, linocut, pen and pencil. He also did several woodcuts, especially after the famine of 1974 -- works that expressed his anger and frustrations.
The painter was involved not only with arts but with other activities such as sports and the Brotochari movement in 1939. He developed connections with several leaders of the Communist Party and got drawn in with the task of mental development of youngsters.
Hassan's artworks delineate rural Bengal and its people. He portrayed human figures, trees, snakes, owls, jackals, birds, fish, animals as well as landscape where one can experience his passion. He mingled romanticism with realism, focusing on bold curved lines and vibrant colours.
Getting inspired from Zainul Abedin, Jamini Roy, Quamrul Hassan chose to give the folk art tradition a breath of life by incorporating modern ideas in it. He always borrowed the two-dimensionality of pata paintings of fork art in his work; he also attempted to give the quality of three-dimensionality in it. Instead of using mixed colours, in most of his paintings he used primary colors like pata painters. Sometimes, like folk artists, he applied flat colours without creating tonal variations. However, he has attempted to create colour perspective by using various colours in one plane, so that a sense of height, distance can be created in the image. This technique was inspired from Henri Matisse. Patriotism was born in him due to his involvement in folk art.
Some of his notable works are: Goon Tana, The Happy Return, Biral, Nabanna, Gorur Snan etc. All of these paintings highlight the lives of lower-class people which has been the topmost priority of his paintings.
Rural women and their plight is another theme. Hassan has repeatedly worked on. His treatment of women emphasise the bond between them, most of his paintings of women are of a group of women, only rarely a solo painting can be found. However, he mixes romanticism with realism; the strong curved lines and the contrasted use of colour contribute to a sensuous appeal that blunts the edges of harsh reality.
His political paintings also deserve some mention as they reflected his political understanding and love for the country. Some of his notable works under the category are: Freedom Fighters, Female Freedom Fighters, Gonohatyar Agey O Gonohatyar Porey ( Before and after the mass killing) etc. His series titled Image'74 shows his political view which portrays the tendency of sacrificing morals and ethics over some personal gains among politicians, bureaucrats and the businessmen of the liberated country.Hassan served as the chief artist of the Bangladesh Government in exile during the Liberation War and designed the state monogram of People's Republic of Bangladesh, Bangladesh Bank, Freedom Fighters Welfare Trust, Parjatan Corporation and Biman Bangladesh Airlines. He won several prestigious awards including President's Gold Medal, Independence Award, Bangladesh Charu Shilpi Sangsad Honour (1984), Fellow of Bangla Academy (1985) and others.
December 2 marked the 93rd birth anniversary of master painter Quamrul Hassan.
The writer is a cinema and music buff.