Iranian Ambassador to Bangladesh Mohammad Reza Nafar has urged its Bangladeshi friends to inspire children about art and culture, saying that Bangladesh is playing a leading role in art and culture in the region.

"Inspire your children about art and culture. I hope artists will play an important role in building a new world as the Covid-19 pandemic has changed many things," he said.

The Iranian Ambassador made the remarks after visiting the ongoing two-month long group art exhibition titled "Sheikh Hasina: On the Right Side of History" at Cosmos Centre in the city on January 20.

Deputy Managing Director of Cosmos Group Masud Jamil Khan welcomed the Ambassador and briefed him about the exhibition.

Ambassador Reza Nafar expressed deep sorrow over the deaths of people, including some of his family friends, due to Covid-19 who had much affection for art and culture.

He said every nation is affected by the coronavirus and mentioned that everything will have to be redesigned in the post-Covid-19 era.

"It's sad to note that the Covid-19 pandemic has changed the global economy, politics and art and cultural arenas," said the Iranian envoy.

Referring to his meeting with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, the Ambassador said Prime Minister Hasina has also special love for art and culture.

The mother of Prime Minister Hasina used to recite poems of Persian poet Khwaja Shams-ud-Din Muḥammad Ḥafez-e Shirazi, known by his pen name Hafez or "Hafiz" to help her sleep, Ambassador Reza Nafar quoted the Prime Minister as saying.

Appreciating the host of the art exhibition, he said, "It's an honour for me to be here. My wife and daughter have also special interests in artwork. It gave me an opportunity to come out (from the confinement due to Covid-19."

The Ambassador said the exhibition carries a special meaning for Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

"I came here to see an art exhibition but I got an opportunity to get introduced with a greater world," he said.

Thanking the host, the Ambassador in a separate message said coronavirus has doused the visage of the world with paint of sorrow and the need for a new plan is hugely felt to change the present atmosphere. "It's the only art that provides people with a good mood."

He said the rich art ingenuity of the dexterous Bangladeshi artists in creating exquisite artworks visible in powerful and lasting paintings of the valuable the exhibition, more than anything indicates the lofty spirit and love for the national and spiritual values found in the hearts of the dear artists of Bangladesh.

Without a doubt, the Iranian Ambassador said, each and every one of the paintings in this exhibition is the golden page of the manifestation of the belief and the attitude of the freedom-seeking Bengali artists who care so much about the exaltation of the name of their motherland. "Visiting this treasure trove was a privilege that made me so pleased," he added.

Masud Khan said it is necessary to recognise the huge value of art and culture to society as it promotes peace.

"Today, the world without art cannot be imagined as each artwork brings tranquillity in its own way. At this troubling time of Covid-19 pandemic, art has become even more important to our society," he said, adding that the exhibition is part of the year-long programme to celebrate the birth centenary of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

Masud Khan said Iran is a very old friend of Bangladesh and laid emphasis on enhanced trade relations between Bangladesh and Iran.

Information Minister Dr Hasan Mahmud formally inaugurated the group art exhibition on December 15, 2020.

Gallery Cosmos in collaboration with the Cosmos Atelier71 recently hosted an art camp supported by the Cosmos Foundation on Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, the eldest daughter of Bangabandhu.

Artists Alakesh Ghosh, Ahmed Shamshuddoha, Sheikh Afzal, Nasir Ali Mamun, Bishwajit Goswami, Ratneshwar Shutradhar, Rasel Kanti, Monjur Rashid, Sourav Chowdhury, Maneek Bonik, Jayanta Sarkar, Azmol Hossain, Fida Hossain, Amit Nandi, Didarul Limon, Tamanna Afroz, Fahim Chowdhury, Miskatul Abir, Proshun Halder, Hasura Akter Rumky and Surovi Akter had participated in the camp.

The artworks produced at the camp are being showcased at the exhibition. The exhibition will remain open till February 12, 2021, at Cosmos Centre and can only receive 20 visitors at any one time.

Earlier, Indian High Commissioner to Bangladesh Vikram K Doraiswami, British High Commissioner to Bangladesh Robert Chatterton Dickson, Turkish Ambassador to Bangladesh Mustafa Osman Turan and US Ambassador to Bangladesh Earl R. Miller visited the art exhibition.

The Iranian Ambassador visited different wings of the Cosmos Group at Cosmos Centre, including UNB newsroom and WildTeam office.

Dr M Anwarul Islam, WildTeam's CEO and Professor of Zoology at the University of Dhaka was, among others, present.

He thanked the Cosmos Group for the invitation and organising such a wonderful exhibition featuring Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

Visitors have been advised to wear masks all the time while visiting the exhibition and maintain an appropriate distance from each other.

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