Today marks the 88th birthday of the multifarious genius Murtaja Baseer, whose six-decade career takes up a unique place in the modern art history of Bangladesh. But what makes this prolific artist stand out is his continuous attempt to learn, grow and evolve. The artist still thinks that he could not do what he wanted to do in the realm of art. “I am still a bud yet to bloom,” says Murtaja Baseer, the youngest son of eminent scholar Dr Muhammad Shahidullah.
“Art is like my everyday prayer; a lifelong perseverance. Creating a painting is like giving birth to a child. When I am not at work, I contemplate. The moods of my paintings are diverse as I go through a myriad of feelings and experiences,” adds the Shadhinata Padak and Ekushey Padak winner.
The Wings and Epitaph for the Martyrs are two of his noteworthy series, articulating truth, beauty, homage, romanticism and spirituality. Many are perhaps not familiar with Baseer’s other identities as a poet, short story writer, novelist, researcher, numismatist and filmmaker.
An interesting aspect of Baseer’s work is his self-portraits. He draws himself at least once in a year. “You know what I had learnt from my life? No one is your true friend. Your inner self is the only entity you can truly rely on and trust your deepest secrets with. When I feel lonely, I stand in front of the mirror and ask who I am. The answer lies in the drawings of my self-portraits,” concludes the artist.
Today also marks the 77th birthday of internationally renowned Bangladeshi artist, Monirul Islam. The Ekushey Padak winner believes that art, aesthetics and emotion are basic things in life. “Life is a canvas and it is the artists who portray the various aspects and elements into it. Understanding art is a process that incorporates many things. It doesn’t happen all of a sudden in someone,” says the Spain and Bangladesh based artist Monirul Islam, who works on diverse media including print, watercolour, acrylic, oil and others.
Subtle lines with a harmonious colour balance between space and composition is an important aspect in Monir’s works. The artist fondly uses minute doodles, lyrical lines, dots, tiny motifs and symbols. Applying meticulous colours in thin layers and reducing the texture of the paint to its most minimal expression. Monirul Islam established an individual abstract language in the early ’70s.
“My artistic fantasies play with many unfinished works scattered in my studio. They seem to grow with my dreams spreading their wings. I dream of depicting what I cherish; but I don’t know whether I’ll make it or not. A painting never ends. This unquenchable thirst is a prerequisite for any artist to move forward,” says Monirul Islam. “Art itself is much more powerful than the artist. Art, culture, literature and education are necessary to nourish the soul. The art of talking, cooking, eating, dressing, behaving and above all, art for teasing sensuousness encircles our life,” concludes the artist.
The Daily Star wishes the two art maestros many happy returns of the day.