In remembrance of Nitun Kundu
Nitun Kundu was a painter, designer, sculptor and industrialist. He paid for his education with earnings from painting cinema banners. In 1954 he got admitted to the Fine Arts Institute in Dhaka and in 1959 completed a five-year graduate-level course. He joined the US Information Centre and served there until March 1971. During the liberation war he served as a designer at the Information and Publicity Department of the interim Government of Bangladesh. A poster of the time designed by him carried the slogan: 'Sadajagrata Banglar Muktibahini'.
Nitun was a widely respected cultural figure, entrepreneur and hero of the Liberation War, and for his artistic contributions, received a state funeral that was attended by a cross-section of civil society and government.
Kundu graduated from Dacca Art College (at present the Faculty of Fine Arts, University of Dhaka) in 1959. Apart from being a sculptor, he was also a painter and was recognised for both his abstract and realistic works. Before his demise, he had plans to hold a solo painting exhibition.
During the Liberation War, some of his poster colour based works gave him recognition in our art scenario. He was also known for furniture design. Wood and metal both were main ingredients in his works.
During the Liberation War, Kundu worked with veteran painter Quamrul Hassan for the public relations department of the then Bangladesh Government at Mujibnagar. Posters by him including "Shoda Jagrato Banglar Muktibahini", "Amra Shobai Bangali" and "Banglar Bir Muktijoddha" are well known. These figurative works highlight a nation's struggles to earn freedom. Long faces and large eyes are two noticeable traits of the works.
Among his sculptures, "Shabash Bangladesh" is much acclaimed. Cement, clay and bamboo are the main elements of the work. The SAARC Fountain, known for its molecular shape and 21st century aesthetics, is also famous. With the design, Kundu wanted to present a complex structure in a simple atmosphere. His metal-based works have an air of modernism and the designs have enriched the Bangladeshi contemporary art scenario.
He held in all four solo exhibitions of his works in Dhaka (1965, 1966), Chittagong (1966) and Rajshahi (1968). He also participated in many national and international art exhibitions from 1956 to 2001. He was an artist with great creativity. He used the mediums of oil, water colour, acrylic, etching, serigraph, pencil or ink and pen in his works. Initially, he used to do realistic painting but later turned to abstract form. He also built sculptures ('Mother and child', 1975, Liberation War symbol 'Sabash Bangladesh', Rajshahi University, 1992, and symbol of traditional boat 'Sampan' at Chittagong Airport, 2001), fountains (kadam flower, road island in front of Foreign Office, Dhaka, eighties, 'Saarc fountain' Sonargaon Road island, Dhaka, 1993) and murals at Modhumita cinema hall, Dhaka, 1966-67, Hotel Sheraton and Gulshan Janata Bank). He designed many trophies, crests and medals for national prizes and awards including Ekushey Padak, National Cinema Prize, President Gold Cup and Asia Cup cricket prizes, Natun Kuri prize for BTV, International Trade Fair trophy and President's trophy for children's football. He demonstrated skill in designing pavilions, gates, stages, decorative lighting, painting covers of many souvenirs and posters and logos. His multi-faceted talent was seen in his thoughts on technology and in making nuts and bolts for machines, in designing new machines and making lifts.
Among Kundu's contemporaries, Debdas Chakraborty, Samarjit Roy Chowdhury, Biren Shome and noted art critic and journalist Sadeq Khan were his close friends.
Kundu was the founder of Otobi and received several awards throughout his illustrious career, including Ekushey Padak, National Film Award, Notun Kuri Award, President Gold Cup and others.
September 15 marked the 12th birth anniversary of Nitun Kundu.
The writer is a freelance contributor.