Tributes and adulations poured in for celebrated master painter and freedom fighter Shahabuddin Ahmed’s 69th birthday on Tuesday at Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy (BSA).
Organised by the BSA and “Artist Shahabuddin 69th Birthday Celebration National Committee”, the event was presided by National Professor Anisuzzaman, with Speaker of the Parliament Dr Shirin SharminChaudhury as the chief guest.
During her speech, Dr Shirin SharminChaudhury saidthe celebrations are justified, as Shahabuddin is the pride and true representative of Bangladesh across the globe.
The portrait of Bangabandhu has graced his presence on the artist’s canvas on numerous occasions, she added, who had sent him to Paris on a scholarship to study fine arts back in 1974.
Director General of BSA Liaquat Ali Lucky said that Shahabuddin has elevated Bangladeshi art in the global art scene.
He added that the artist’s identity as one of the fifty Master Painters of Contemporary Art has helped Bangladesh to dream big and his artworks will accelerate the development of the country in the years to come.
Professor Abdul Mannan, president of the birthday celebration national committee, said that Shahabuddin’s artworks elicit joy among the general audience and art lovers alike.
He also said that no other artist has the distinction of being the first ever foreign “Artist in Residence” in India’s RashtrapatiBhavan as the guest of erstwhile president Pranab Mukherjee.
Prime Minister’s Political Affairs Adviser HT Imam said that the country is honoured to honour an artist, who is also a valiant freedom fighter, a fact that many overlook.
He recollected a lesser-known anecdote that during December 16, 1971, artist Shahabuddin was the first person to hoist the flag of an independent Bangladesh on top of Shahbagh’s erstwhile Bangladesh Betar building.
HT Imam also added that the artist, who was adored by Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, is ever present through his artworks at the Prime Minister’s Office, Ganabhaban and also at the Awami League office.
Art critic Moinuddin Khaled lamented the lack of research on someone of Shahabuddin’s stature and stated that more aspects about his artworks should be delved into, in order to identify the true artist.
The French Ambassador to Bangladesh Marie-Annick Bourdin said that France is equally honoured to be known as his second home.
The celebrations commenced with a brief documentary screening by Indian documentary filmmaker Ajoy Roy.
In between speeches, a lively cultural programme took place where songs enjoyed by the master painter was performed by renowned artists, followed by dance recitals.
Apart from the main programme, a photography and painting exhibition was also held containing portraits of Shahabuddin taken by several artists.
Among others, actress Ferdousi Mazumder, publisher of Anyaprokash Mazharul Islam, senior artists of the country, Director of Gallery Cosmos Tehmina Enayet and more were present during the occasion.
The event was supported by Dhaka University’s Faculty of Fine Arts, Gallery Cosmos, publishing house Anyaprokash and others.
A protégée of late Prime Minister Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, Shahabuddin is a revered national figure and recipient of the prestigious Independence Day Award from the Bangladesh government for his contribution as a freedom fighter in the 1971 Liberation War of Bangladesh.
In 2000, the government of Bangladesh hounoured Shahabuddin with ‘Swadhinata Padak’, while French government conferred upon him the prestigious civilian award Chevalier de l’ordre des Arts et des Lettres (Knight in the Order of Arts & Literatures) in 2014 in recognition of his outstanding contributions to the nation’s cultural clique.
In 1992, he was one of the Fifty Master Painters of Contemporary Arts, an award bestowed on him at the Olympiad of Arts, Barcelona.