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The cultural features, norms, food habits, etc of Bengal are not something unique to West-Bengal but they are rather widely shared in the entire eastern region from Assam to Orissa and eastern Bihar taking in the sweep the new country of Bangladesh. This entire region was once a part of the undivided Bengal Presidency. The art and literature of this entire region is thus very much similar and distinct from that of the rest of India.

Thus it is no wonder that artists of this entire region share almost similar aspirations, similar thoughts and concerns. Artists like Jatin Das or Wasim Kapoor who do not come from the strict confines of West-Bengal are highly regarded in Bengal Art Circles. Many other artists like Manu Parekh (hailing from UP) and BR Panesar (hailing from Punjab) have been associated with the most prominent art group of our times: the Society of Contemporary Artists .


A painting by Jatin Das

Thus in post independence India, Bengal continues to be a confluence of art in Eastern India with its centre at Kolkata. Kolkata with its innumerable galleries, art-institutions continues to remain an important centre for art in the post-liberalization phase of India as well.  

An acrylic work by Manu Parekh






        Bangladesh, which is today a distinct political entity, had once been a part of the Greater Bengal and shared similar cultural norms as those of the present day West Bengal. Before the partition of Bengal, artists from both sides of the divide traveled freely and the art of pre-independence Bengal shows marked references to scenes and motifs specific to areas which are now in Bangladesh. Artists like Jogen Choudhuri who were born in areas which now fall in Bangladesh took inspiration from Alpana drawings practiced widely in Bangladesh villages. Many other present day artists like Ganesh Paine and Prokash Karmakar had roots in Bangladesh


  Zainul Abedin at work

                  of Zainul Abedin

     The greatest artist of Bangladesh, and probably one of the greatest artist of the Indian subcontinent was Zainul Abedin. He was born in Kishoreganj (now in Bangladesh) but had come to study art at the Government College of Art in Kolkata. His talent was recognized when he was only 24 when his British patrons arranged for an exhibition of his works in London and then Paris. Both the shows were immense success. Zainul Abedin was however best known for his paintings on Bengal Famine of the 1940s. 

Zainul Abedin's painting on Bengal Famine

        After partition, Zainul had to go to East Pakistan, though from the begining he was against the hegemonic rule of the new Pakistani Government. In 1970, he drew a scroll named ‘Nabanno’ in protest against the marginalizing of Bengali populace in East Pakistan. He also supported the freedom movement in East Pakistan. In 1971, Bangladesh was formed with the aid of Indian Military support. This brought new lease of life to Zainul Abedin as some of his best works were created after this period

                  of Chittoprosad Bhattacharya

Chittoprosad's wood-cut work on Tebhaga Movement

Kamrul Hassan

        Another important artist and a contemporary of Zainul Abedin was Chittoprosad Bhattacharya. Chittoparsad was born in Naihati (in West Bengal) but had traveled widely in Eastern Bengal as a member of the Communist Party of undivided Bengal. He painted alongside Zainul Abedin on Bengal Famine, the 1943’s Naval revolt and the Tebhaga movement. Very little of Chittoprosad’s paintings are restored today, apart from a collection which is restored at the Dhaka Museum.

A painting of Qamrul Hassan

        Quamrul Hassan, second in importance to Zainul Abedin in Bangladesh was also a political voice and had painted on important political issues affecting the country. SM Sultan another important artist was born in Narail and had the opportunity to come to Kolkata in the year 1938. But after the partition of Bengal, he was lost completely to the art world. 







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