Chakravarty, Devdas

Chakravarty, Devdas (1933-2008) painter, was born on 25 December 1933 in a zamindar family of shariatpur district. His father was Tarakbrohmo Chakravarty and his mother, Snehlata Chakravarty. After the partition of the subcontinent in 1947, his father moved to kolkata along with the family. Devdas was admitted to the Government Art School, Calcutta, in 1948. But he was expelled from the school in 1949 when he was found to have joined a students' protest demonstration. He then got admitted at the Government Art Institute in Dhaka in 1951 and by 1956 completed a graduation-level course in art.

Devdas Chakravarty';s professional career began with a job of an art teacher at Armanitola High School in Dhaka in 1957. Later on he got the job of Senior Designer at the Agricultural Information Service of the Ministry of Agriculture and served in that capacity from 1958 to 1970. His main centre of activity was at the Fine Arts Department of chittagong university. There he served as an Associate Professor from 1970 to 1980. During the liberation war in 1971, he served as a designer in the Information and Publicity Department of the interim Bangladesh Government. At this time a poster designed by him and issued by the Information and Publicity Department had these words as its slogan: 'Banglar Hindu/ Banglar Christian/ Banglar Bouddha/ Banglar Mussalman/ Amra sobai Bangali'.

While still serving as a teacher at Chittagong University, he received a scholarship from the Polish Government and went to Warsaw for higher study in pictography (1977-79). His association with left politics during his student days made him sympathetic to the plight of the downtrodden people in the country. Higher education made him more keen about art and even more radical politically. It has its expression in his paintings. He used water colour, oil, gouache, pastel etc as mediums for painting. In pictography he demonstrated excellence. His inclination was towards realistic work. He also showed his expertise in abstract painting. His creative work enriched modern painting in Bangladesh. He held seven solo exhibitions of his works. Of them five were held in dhaka in 1964, 1975, 1994, 1997 and 2001, one in Lahore in 1968 and one in Warsaw in 1977. He also participated in many national and international art exhibitions. He made considerable contribution in painting book covers.

At the international art workshop in Warsaw in 1978, he was awarded the first prize. For his exceptional contribution to culture he was given the country's highest civilian award Ekushey Padak in 1990. The same year he received the award of honour from Bangladesh Charu Shilpi Samsad. In 1997 Devdas Chakravarty fell ill and gradually he lost his memory and power of speech. In 2001 Bengal Foundation gave him a reception and an award of honour. He died in Dhaka on 5 February 2008. [Syed Azizul Huq]