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Baset, Kazi Abdul

Baset, Kazi Abdul (1935-2002) painter, art teacher was born in Dhaka on 4 December 1935. His father was Abdul Jalil and mother was Nurjahan Begum. His ancestral home was at village Rampal in Munshiganj district.

Kazi Abdul Baset passed his matriculation from Dhaka's Government Muslim High School in 1951 and completed his graduation course in fine arts from the Government Art Institute in Dhaka in 1956. The same year he joined the Institute as a drawing teacher. In 1957 he joined the Institute as a lecturer. While still a teacher there he was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship (1963-1964) for higher training in painting at the Art Institute of Chicago University in USA. After his higher training he became the head of Drawing and Painting Department of the Government Art Institute. During this time (1991-94) he also acted as the Director of the Institute. He retired in 1995.

Kazi Abdul Baset's whole life was spent in teaching and in the lively world of artistic imagination. At the start of his painting career he followed the academic style of realism. At this stage, impressionism and cubism were also noticeable in his work. His paintings were enriched by his teenage impressions of nature and rural landscape. He spent a major part of his life as a resident of old Dhaka. He was easily attracted by the Dhakaites' peculiar lifestyle, their fascination for fun and their strong sense of humors. All this left a deep impression on his canvas. He used water colour, oil, pastel etc as well as lithograph and serigraph in his work. He was also skilled in sketching.

While studying in USA, Kazi Abdul Baset was influenced by abstract expressionist trend. At Chicago he got teachers like Paul Wiegard, Hans Hoffman and Bubvict. Paul Wiegard had the good fortune to have worked with the world famous modern painter Paul Klee. At the same time, Hans Hoffman and Bubvict were in various ways enriching abstract expressionism in USA through their work. In Bangladesh Kazi Abdul Baset was in the forefront of those who tried to introduce abstract expressionism in painting. He however did not abandon his own style of realistic painting. In fact, in post-1984 era he was found keener to doing figurative work. He left behind significant contributions in both abstract and realistic genres. In modernizing the painting in Bangladesh he played an important role. He specialised in painting female figures, particularly in motherly form.

Kazi Abdul Baset held two solo exhibitions of his paintings' in 1963 at Chicago's International Centre and in 1983 at the Shilpakala Academy in Dhaka. In the Chicago exhibition his realistic as well as abstract works were on display but in the Dhaka exhibition only his abstract expressionist works were on display. He also participated in many national and international exhibitions at home and abroad between 1953 and 1999.

For his contribution to art, Kazi Abdul Baset received many awards and prizes. While a student he participated in an All-Pakistan Painting Exhibition in Dhaka in 1954 and won a prize. He won the second prize at the Pakistan National Painting Exhibition, Karachi in 1957. Later he won the Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy prize in 1982, Srijnab Atisha Dipankar gold medal in 1987, Bangladesh Fine Arts Sangsad award in 1989 and Ekushey Padak, the highest civilian award of Bangladesh, in 1991. He died in Dhaka on 23 May 2002. [Syed Azizul Huq]