Internationally-acclaimed artist Kalidas Karmakar passed away yesterday. He was 73.
He suffered a cardiac arrest around 1:30pm when he was in the bathroom of his flat in the capital’s Eskaton. As there was no response from him, his sister Sanchita Karmakar and other family members broke open the bathroom door.
He was taken to Labaid Specialised Hospital where doctors pronounced him dead around 2:00pm, said Sourav Chowdhury, executive artistic director at Gallery Cosmos.
Kalidas’s body, kept at Birdem mortuary, will be taken to the Faculty of Fine Arts at Dhaka University on Sunday morning at 10:00am.
The body will be taken to the Central Shaheed Minar at 11:00am for people to pay their tributes. His cremation will take place after his daughters, Kanka Karmakar and Keya Karmakar, return to Bangladesh from the US.
Expressing shock at his death, renowned artist and professor Mohammad Eunus mentioned in a Facebook post that Kalidas once saved him from drowning in the Meghna river.
In an interview with The Daily Star a few years ago, Kalidas said, “As my painting symbolically represents the connotations of our glorious Liberation War, various social phenomena and their perceptions, unwanted political unrests and the life sketches of the people of this part of the world, I recurrently choose the very word ‘Alluvial’ in titles of many of my solo exhibitions.
“The mind of every Bangalee is as soft as the alluvial clay and, at the same time, it is as hard as the stone after that clay gets burnt with fire. For that very feature, we got tough against Pakistanis and liberated our motherland in 1971.”
Malay Bala, associate professor of the DU Faculty of Fine Arts, said Kalidas celebrated his life in an artistic way. “One can easily find his vivacious presence in his creations. His artistic realm is diverse. He did paintings, prints, sculptures, installations and performances. His artworks are modern and thought-provoking.”
In an installation, Kalidas once created six statues to signify the historic six-point demand of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. They also featured the bodies of the martyred intellectuals and the freedom fighters.
In his interview with this correspondent, he once said, “Shilpacharya Zainul Abedin with Patua Quamrul Hassan, Shilpaguru Safiuddin Ahmed and others planted the seed of art in this part of the world. We need proper platforms for art to flourish round the year. A heart of a country is its art museum. When we go to New York, we visit MOMA; when we visit London, we go to Tate Modern; when we visit Paris, we must go Louvre; when we visit Delhi, we go to National Gallery of Modern Art. Bangladesh needs such museums as well.”
Before completing his graduation in fine arts from the College of Fine Arts and Crafts, Kolkata, India, Kalidas had a two-year pre-degree study at the Institute of Fine Arts, now Faculty of Fine Arts of Dhaka University. He attained many scholarships and fellowships in different countries.