A sketch drawn by Shilpacharya Zainul Abedin in 1970 in Cairo, Egypt sold recently for Tk 20 lakh at an online auction. It was sold to the chairman of the Summit Group Muhammed Aziz Khan. The starting bid amount was Tk 8 lakh. The auction was held on the Facebook page named Cholo Shobai. The money will be distributed among the artisans and needy in society hit hard by the COVID-19 outbreak in Bangladesh.

Zainul drew the 8.5 x 4.5 inch sketch in 1970 when he visited Syria, Lebanon, Egypt and Jordan at the invitation from Arab League to witness the plight of Palestinian refugees. The work, dated 11/5/70, portrays a horse drawn buckboard wagon transporting people. Besides, he created paintings and sketches depicting everyday life of people during the visit.

The sketch, containing the signature of Zainul Abedin, was recently discovered inside a sketchbook by Shilpacharya's son Mainul Abedin. Earlier, four works of Zainul Abedin were put up for auction. The works are currently being displayed by Bangladesh National Museum, Bangladesh Bank and others.

Zainul Abedin is the leading figure in the history of modern art movement in Bangladesh. A well-known figure for his leadership qualities in organising artists and art movements, Abedin took the initiative to found the Government Institute of Arts and Crafts (now Faculty of Fine Arts) in 1948 on Dhaka University campus, of which he was the founding principal. This institute trained and nurtured an entire generation of artists whose works reflected the changing times. Qamrul Hassan, Safiuddin Ahmed, Shafiqul Amin, Anwarul Haq were contemporaries of Zainul Abedin. This was the generation that depicted the changing social reality in their art.

Born in Mymensingh, Abedin grew up in the serene landscape by the river Brahmaputra - the river being a source of inspiration to the artist from an early childhood. In 1933, the artist enrolled at Calcutta Government Art School. Later he joined the faculty of the same institute after his graduation. He was an influential member of the Calcutta Group of progressive artists. A series of watercolours that Abedin did as his tribute to the Brahmaputra river earned him the Governor's Gold Medal in an all-India exhibition in 1938.

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