75th birth anniversary of Ekushey Padak winner late painter and printmaking artist Kalidas Karmakar.
Born on 10 January 1946 in Faridpur to a family of goldsmiths and artisans, the internationally renowned legendary art-maestro cemented his legacy as one of the most diversified and well-respected artists of Bangladesh.
Because of his origin from an artisan family, Kalidas Karmakar was naturally attracted into crafts, drawing and painting. To begin with his artistic endeavours, he completed his two-year preliminary degree in fine arts at the Institute of Fine Arts, Dhaka University, in 1964.
He then went on to complete his graduation from the Government College of Fine Arts and Crafts in Kolkata and achieved the prestigious degree in 1969.
Known as the ‘Alluvial Man’ in country’s art sphere, Kalidas began his career with paintings through assembling metal objects in the 1970s and with prints, he began to explore mythic and tantric images in the ‘80s, opening up new possibilities for etching and aquatint.
The artist’s very first solo art exhibition was held at Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy on August 7, 1976. He had staged more than 40 solo exhibitions at home and abroad.
His diverse artworks featuring found objects, handmade paper, and oil on canvas prints have been widely exhibited throughout South Asia, Middle East, Europe, and the United States and in counties including Poland, United States of America, India, Japan, Iran, Italy, Korea, and Hong Kong.
He won the Polish Government Scholarship in Graphic Art at the Warsaw Academy of Fine Art, Warsaw University; French Government Superior Scholarship in Fine Arts, for research in multicolour etching at Atelier-17, in Paris; Japan Foundation Fellowship on Japanese Woodblock Printing at Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music; ICCR Special Scholarship for research in Contemporary Modern Sculpture, West Bengal Lalit Kala Academy Studio; and Asian Cultural Council New York, Fellowship with Artist Residency program in the US.
In 2006, he received an ACC Fellowship to participate in a residency at the PointB Worklodge in Brooklyn.
Major works by the artist have been collected by Kihak Sung, Youngone Corporation, Korea and Bangladesh; Hiroshi Toda; Takeo Yamaki; Takashi Kobayashi; Abul Khair (Chairman of Bengal Foundation), Ambassador Paulo Da Costa Franco, Gallery Cosmos, and many other private collectors, at home and abroad.
Having the natural charisma of captivating the crowd, Kalidas Karmakar often staged enthralling performances during his solo exhibitions in Dhaka and abroad. His performances at chars in the River Padma in the late 1980s signalled the drift towards site- specific art in Bangladesh, which was later followed by fellow artists.
Kalidas Karmakar was one of the advisers of Gallery Cosmos, who initiated a modern state-of-the-art printmaking studio known as Atelier71 at the gallery venue in Cosmos Centre, for which he had always shown great dedication.
He was engaged with the gallery till his death on October 18, 2019, following a heart attack.
For his life-long attachment to art, Kalidas Karmakar received Ekushey Padak (2018), Shilpakala Padak (2016), Sultan Padak and many other prestigious awards.