Hassan, Quamrul

Hassan, Quamrul (1921-1988) artist, was born on 2 December 1921 in Kolkata, where his father, Muhammad Hashim, was superintendent of the Tinjala Graveyard. His paternal residence was in Narenga village in the Burdwan district of west bengal.

Quamrul Hassan

Quamrul Hassan studied at Calcutta Model ME School (1930-1935) and Calcutta Madrasa (1936-1937). He graduated in Fine Arts from the Government Institute of Arts (presently, College of Arts and Crafts, Kolkata) in 1947.

During his student life, Quamrul Hassan was also involved with Boy Scouts, the bratachari movement, Manimela, Mukul Fauj etc. Apart from his interest in art, he was also interested in physical exercise and, in 1945, he became the Bengal champion in a physical exercise competition. Like many Bengali Muslims, he was involved in the Pakistan movement and trained the young boys and girls who belonged to the Mukul Fauj.

After partition, Quamrul Hassan came to dhaka and, in collaboration with Shilpacharya zainul abedin, established the Government Institute of Fine Arts (at present, the Institute of Fine Arts) in 1948. He taught at the same institute till 1960. In 1950, Quamrul Hassan organised the Art Group in Dhaka.

The East Pakistan Small and Cottage Industries Corporation was established under the leadership of Quamrul Hassan in 1960, and he worked there as Director of the Design Centre till his retirement in 1978. After his retirement, Hassan worked as a free-lance artist.

Always politically active, Quamrul Hassan was involved in the non-cooperation movement (1969-70). He also took part in the war of liberation, serving as the Director of the Art Division of the Information and Radio Department of the Bangladesh Government in exile. During this time he designed a poster depicting a ferocious-looking aga mohammad yahya khan, the military president of Pakistan. The caption of the poster was, 'These animals have to be killed'.

Three Women, Oilpainting,1983 [Quamrul Hassan]

Quamrul Hassan was a constant painter. Even in the midst of company, he would keep on doodling or sketching. While presiding over a session of the Second National Poetry Festival held on the Dhaka University campus on 2 February 1988, he drew a sketch of a snake, satirising Lieutenant General hussain muhammad ershad, the army general who had become president of Bangladesh through a coup. Hassan had barely completed the sketch when he suffered a massive heart attack.

Hassan’s subjects range from colourful pictures depicting a pristine, rural Bengal to a politically corrupt, degenerate one. His portraits and sketches of men and women, animals, birds, snakes etc. reflect the traditional rural society of Bengal and its natural beauty. Juxtaposing these pictures are his fierce cartoons and sketches of military rulers, Pakistani or Bangadeshi, which inspired the general public during the late sixties, the liberation war, and during the movement against Lieutenant General Ershad.

Quamrul Hassan combined popular and modern methods in his paintings and thus came to be known as 'Patua Quamrul Hassan'. Solo exhibitions of his paintings were held in Dhaka (1955, 1964, 1973, 1975, 1991, 1995), Rangoon (1975), Rawalpindi (1969) and London (1979).

Quamrul Hassan received several awards and honours for his contribution to art, among them the President's Gold Medal (1965), the Comilla Foundation Gold Medal (1977), the Independence Day Award (1979), Bangladesh Charu Shilpi Sangsad Honour (1984) and Kazi Mahbubullah Trust Gold Medal (1987). He was made a Fellow of bangla academy in 1985. The Government of Yugoslav (1985) and the Government of Bangladesh (1986) issued commemorative stamps using his paintings Tin Kanya and Naior respectively. [Syed Azizul Huq]