Adieu, Qayyum Chowdhury | The Daily Star
12:01 AM, December 02, 2014 / LAST MODIFIED: 01:53 AM, March 08, 2015

Adieu, Qayyum Chowdhury

Adieu, Qayyum Chowdhury

Students and teachers gather at the Institute of Fine Arts of Dhaka University yesterday to see their beloved artist and personality Qayyum Chowdhury for the last time and lay wreaths in tribute.  Photo: Anisur Rahman
Students and teachers gather at the Institute of Fine Arts of Dhaka University yesterday to see their beloved artist and personality Qayyum Chowdhury for the last time and lay wreaths in tribute. Photo: Anisur Rahman

It was at the Institute of Fine Arts of Dhaka University where Qayyum Chowdhury had spent the most significant period of his life, creating awe-inspiring artworks blending the country's folk elements with a modern flavour on the canvas.

It was also the place where his lifelong endeavour of projecting nature and rural Bangladesh inspired hundreds of his students.

It was there that the great artist's body was brought yesterday for one last time.

People of all strata pay their last respects to noted painter Qayyum Chowdhury at Central Shaheed Minar in Dhaka yesterday. Photo: Anisur Rahman
People of all strata pay their last respects to noted painter Qayyum Chowdhury at Central Shaheed Minar in Dhaka yesterday. Photo: Anisur Rahman

A pall of gloom descended in and around the faculty as an ambulance carrying Qayyum's body reached there around 11:00am from the mortuary of the Square Hospitals. Overcome with grief, his colleagues and hundreds of his students paid their tributes to the artist.

The eminent artist suffered a massive cardiac arrest and breathed his last around 9:00pm in the capital's Army Stadium on Sunday night. The 82-year-old painter collapsed before uttering his last words during his speech at the Bengal Classical Music Festival.

He was laid to eternal rest at Azimpur graveyard after the Asr prayers.

Later his body was taken to the Central Shaheed Minar around 11:45am where his family members, friends, ministers, leaders of socio-political organisations, cultural activists and hundreds of his well-wishers gathered in silence, standing in front of the coffin, their faces etched with grief, as they paid their final tributes to the painter.

Different socio-cultural organisations placed wreaths and stood in silence to pray for his departed soul as his body lay in state there till 1:00pm.

Floral wreaths were also placed on behalf of President Abdul Hamid and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

Qayyum's son Moinul Islam Zaber said bringing the motif of Bengali folk art on to the canvas was his lifelong goal.

"His every artistic endeavour was driven by this dream. Contemporary artists should continue to pursue this goal," he said.

"There is a big difference between knowing how to create art and living in the art. He was one of the few artists who actually lived in the world of art," he added.

Noted artist and media personality Mustafa Monwar said: "His contribution to the fine arts of Bangladesh is substantial. His death will create an unfathomable void in the country's art scene."

Theatre personality Ramendu Majumdar said the book publishing industry would never be where it was today without his gorgeous illustrations.

"His timeless book covers, and newspaper and magazine illustrations have set a milestone in the history of our book design and cover illustrations," he said.

From Shaheed Minar, the body was taken to Dhaka University Central Mosque where a namaz-e-janaza was held after the Zohr prayers. Then a hearse carrying Qayyum's body left for Azimpur graveyard for burial.

Born in Feni in 1932, Qayyum graduated in 1954 from the Government Institute of Arts, now Faculty of Fine Arts. Mentored by the master painter Zainul Abedin, Qayyum pursued his passion for painting during the most exciting stages of the art movement in the '50s.

Qayyum won innumerable awards including the Imperial Court Prize, the Shilpakala Academy Award, the Leipzig Book Fair Prize for Book Illustration, the Ekushey Padak, the 6th Bangabandhu Award, the Sultan Padak and Swadhinata Padak.

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