Murtaja Baseer recalls the Language Movement
Murtaja Baseer, who belonged to the second batch of the Dacca Art College (now Faculty of Fine Arts, University of Dhaka), was always an ardent cultural activist.
Whenever there was protest against any type of injustice or in favour of the Language Movement, Baseer took active part in the processions.
Along with other artists Baseer painted on walls, paper and canvas during the movement. They worked day and night, and against all odds, using their creativity to generate patriotic sentiments among the masses.
Baseer said, “In the early 50s there was unrest among the people of the then East Pakistan. The majority of the people were Bangla-speaking. The people of East Pakistan demanded Bangla as the state language. During the time, the situation was terrible, with arrests and torture of intellectuals, students and politicians by the Pakistani regime. The Dhaka University campus became the focal point for student meetings in support of Bangla.
“In February 1953, a collection of poems, short stories, songs and essays on the Language Movement -- edited by Hasan Hafizur Rahman -- came out. The volume, titled “21st February”, also contained a linocut and sketches by me. These were probably the first such published works on the movement.”
The artist's later works, which included a series titled “Epitaph”, symbolically depicts the martyrs' souls. Oval, round forms and varied subdued colours are the predominant features of the series. The works are generally characterised by the dual themes of anger and agony. The series' mode of expression is a mingling of realism and pure abstraction.