Murtaja Baseer turns 80 | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, August 18, 2011 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, August 18, 2011

Murtaja Baseer turns 80

A multifaceted genius

Photo: Khaled SarkEr

Murtaja Baseer, who has established his individual style, is considered one of the foremost painters of Bangladesh. He is also known as a versatile genius. Throughout his illustrious career, Baseer has gradually transformed his style into abstract realism.
Baseer was born in 1932. He joined Dacca Art College as a student in 1949.The artist is the son of Dr. Muhammad Shahidullah, an outstanding scholar and linguist.
Yesterday (August 17), Baseer turned 80.
Baseer is still actively exploring the diverse world of art. He has done a series of works articulating contemporary life and issues. Hope, aspiration and strange visions are evoked with passion in his images.
Many are perhaps not familiar with Baseer's other identities. He is also a poet, short story writer, novelist, researcher, numismatist and filmmaker. Baseer has written novels and was acclaimed for his meticulous style and unique choice of themes. In 1954, he wrote a novel, titled “Ultramarine”. The novel was based on the contemporary life in Kolkata and the prevailing social issues. He had published a collection of short stories called “Kanch-er Pakhir Gaan” in 1969.
He wrote two more novels -- “Mitar Shangey Char Shandha” and “Amitakkhar”. He has a collection of selected works, “Murtaja Baseer: Murto O Bimurto”. He was a regular contributor to now defunct literary journals like “Dilruba”, “Samakal” and “Saogat.”
Baseer's first published poem was “Parbe Na”. The poem delved deep into patriotism and socialism. It was included in “Ora Pran Dilo” -- a compilation of poems on the Language Movement, which was published from Calcutta (now Kolkata) in 1952. The cover was designed from a linocut of Somnath Hore, a veteran Indian painter-sculptor.
Baseer has also worked as a screenplay writer, art director and chief assistant director for the Bangla film “Nadi O Nari” in 1964, and as an art director for the Urdu film “Kaise Kahoon” in 1965.
In 1987, he received a fellowship from British Council to carry out research on folk and traditional art of Bangladesh. In 1988, he visited several museums in Delhi, Calcutta, Banaras and 3000 villages under nine districts of West Bengal -- under the fellowship of Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR). His work “Mudra O Shilalipir Aloke Banglar Habshi Sultan O Tothkalin Samaj” was published in 2004. Several articles by Baseer have been published in the Journal of the Numismatic Society of India, a prestigious publication.

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