Quamrul Hassan the Artist and the Patriot

In How Zainul Abedin Started the Modern Art Movement in Bangladesh, we discussed how Zainul Abedin was one of the founders of the fine arts department of Dhaka University known as Charukola. One of the other artists who helped Abedin do this is artist Quamrul Hassan. Here's how that happened. 


Quamrul Hassan is born in Kolkata, India to a conservative family. His father, a superintendent of a local graveyard did not approve of his son's creative side. 


Motivated by his love of painting and sheer determination, Hassan enrolls in Government Institute of Arts, an affiliated college of the University of Calcutta under the condition he pays his own way.


He graduates from Government Institute of Arts. 


After the partition of India, Hassan moves to Dhaka. Together with Abedin establishes Government Institute of Fine Arts (now Institute of Fine Arts) at Dhaka University

A Unique Figurative Style

In Bangladesh, Quamrul Hassan helped create a unique figurative style, taking elements from folk and traditional art. For which he was known as 'Patua Quamrul Hassan.' In many ways, he invigorated the folk art tradition by incorporating modern ideas. He was a versatile artist working in many mediums, such as oil, gouache, watercolors, pastel, etching, pen and pencil. Using woodcuts for works, he showed his outrage with snakes, jackals, and owls to portray the evil of man.


His range of subject-matter wasn’t limited to politics, he’s also known for his colorful paintings of pristine rural Bangladesh. His reflected on the traditional rural society and its natural beauty through his portraits and sketches of men, women, and animals. But only by juxtaposing pristine rural Bangladesh with his fierce sketches of brutal leaders did he inspire a nation.

Quamrul Hassan, Peacock and Parrot, 1976. image courtesy: Depart

Quamrul Hassan, Peacock and Parrot, 1976. image courtesy: Depart

He was also sensitive to the plight of the rural women. His depiction of women emphasized the bond between them. He mixed romanticism with realism; the strong curved lines and the contrasted use of color makes his work sensuous, softening the harsh edges of reality.

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Along with his formidable body of work in fine art, he designed the national flag of Bangladesh, a red disc on a green field. The red disc represents the sun rising and the blood of those who sacrificed for independence. The green stands for the lush land.


He was unable to sit idle, even with people around him he was known to doodle or sketch. For that we are grateful.