June 20, 2019

Bangladesh in the Netherlands – ‘Shades of Passion’

H.E. Sheikh Mohammed Belal Ambassador of Bangladesh.

By Roy Lie Atjam

Ms. Anika a young Bangladeshi artist based in the Netherlands invited H.E. Sheikh Mohammed Belal Ambassador of Bangladesh to deliver his opening remarks. The venue of the event was at the atrium of the City Hall Den Haag on Friday 30 March 2017.

Noteworthy was the presence of Mr. Rafiqun Nabi, Nestor of Bangladesh art along with his delegation who were flown in from Dhaka for the inauguration ceremony of the first Art Exhibition of Bangladesh in the Netherlands – ‘Shades of Passion’. The Ambassadors of Tunisia, South Corea, Vietnam and other Diplomats, grace the exhibition with their presence.

As Ambassador Belal related, “this Art Exhibition is going to exhibit paintings of forty prominent artists of Bangladesh and also few paintings of Ms. Anika, a Bangladesh origin young artist presently based in the Netherlands, who is the anchor of today’s programme as well.”

The Ambassador continued, “I believe this exhibition will portray the resonance and serenity of our beloved country. We are indeed honoured to have this exhibition organized in the Netherlands, a country of world renowned artists like Rembrandt, Vermeer and Van Gogh – who are the inspiration of the artists of all ages.

Bangladesh is a land of scenic beauty, the distinctive beauty of nature adorns our country with six different styles with the onset of six seasons. The idyllic landscape of Bangladesh has given birth to many artists, singers and poets. An artist’s creation deeply resonate with the images shaped by childhood memories in their mind’s eye. Rafiqun Nabi is such an artist who brilliantly depicts the unparalleled beauty of Bengal.

Dr. Mohammad Iqbal Ali, Mr. Pradyut Kumar Das. Mr. Rafiqun Nabi, Mr. Rabin Baldewsingh Deputy Mayor of The Hague, Ambassador Belal and his spouse, Dr. Dilruba Nasrin.

Yes indeed, here with us, we have Hon. Rafiqun Nabi, a household name in Bangladesh. Here I must pause to thank my good friend Ms. Leoni Cluneare, Dutch Ambassador in Bangladesh for her personal attention in expediting their visas.

Of all the artists, I personally preserve a higher plane for Honble Rafiqun Nabi for his epic creation of Tokai. To us, in Bangladesh Tokai is a character symbolizing the poor street boys who lives on picking things from your leftovers or begging and having a knack of telling simple yet painful truths about current political and socio-economic situation of the country. This award winning artist Mr. Rafiqun Nabi is also accompanied by some young talents of our contemporary art and culture. Dr. Mohammad Iqbal Ali and Mr. Pradyut Kumar Das.

If you talk about art in Bangladesh, you ought to pay tribute to Shilpacharya Zainul Abedin, who first attracted attention with his sketches of the Bengal famine of 1943. After the partition of India and Pakistan from British India in 1947, he was able to gather a group of artists, like our Honble Rafiqun Nabi, around him who experimented with various forms of art.

Patua Quamrul Hassan is another name who immensely contributed in establishing this form of art in Bangladesh. Quamrul Hassan in collaboration with Shilpacharya Zainul Abedin established the Government Institute of Fine Arts in Bangladesh in 1948. Institute of Fine Arts or ‘Charukala’ as it’s widely known, should be considered the cradle of contemporary Bangladeshi art, as majority of the noted Bangladeshi artists have studied at or graduated from this institute.
Followed by the those pioneers, our contemporary generations maintained the legacy very well.”

Opening Bangladesh Art Exhibition. ‘Shades of Passion’. The Hague’s City Hall.

Ambassador Belal went on, “no doubt artists are integral part of our society and they have a different language to express their feelings and emotions through pencils and brushes and colours. They have immense contribution in connecting people within our society across the borders. In this spirit, forty painters of four different generations of Bangladesh have joined hands to exhibit their talents in The Hague. We are happy to inform you that this exhibition will run until 13 April. I hope art lovers would visit this exhibition to have a glimpse of our contemporary arts.

We would also hope that this exhibition will, in some way, also help us to radiate message of peace which this world so badly needed. It is no denying the fact that with all impressive scientific innovaitons, we are living in an era of unprecedented decline. We don’t need to tell us that things are falling apart.

We hear about terrorists murdering innocents, and fear for our own families. Most of us feel the trouble in our guts when we tear open our stubbornly flat paychecks. Five years before, we were told 362 persons has as much assets as the remaining humanity put together. Now we are told, 62 persons has as much of the rest of us. This is therefore, it is no incidence that we brought to you our Father of “Tokai” a street urchin seeking your understanding of this absurdity of the system we are in. Let us be human first and foremost before you become artist, mayor or diplomat.

The irony is that not so long ago, the world seemed to be improving at a blistering pace, and experts and politicians were assuring us that the good times here to stay. So, what happened. Why Afghanistan? Why Iraq? Why Syria?

We don’t have an answer. Hope artists will do their part to help us finding a clue to stem this race to the bottom.

Excellencies Ladies and Gentlemen, let me now share with you our joy of being recognized for the first time towards graduating to a developing country recently. The United Nations Committee for Development Policy, on completion of its review of the LDC category, announced on 15 March 2018 that Bangladesh has met all the three graduation criteria – Per Capita Gross National Income, Human Asset index and Economic Vulnerability Index.

Bangladesh has been sailing through prosperity under the visionary leadership of our Hon’ble Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina towards realizing the dream of our Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman – a “Sonar Bangla- Golden Bengal”, hunger-free, poverty-free and deprivation-free Bangladesh.

Bangladesh has achieved almost all the MDGs. We have topped the South Asian countries in gender equality for the third consecutive year, ranking 47th among 144 nations. Bangladesh has also been ranked 34th in the World Economic Forum’s Inclusive Development Index’s list of emerging economies in 2018 – being way ahead of her peers. Our government has chalked out different plans and programmes to achieve SDGs as well. We are now on development-highway.

Back to this Art Exhibition, I hope that the people of the Netherlands would enjoy the arts of Bangladesh and contribute in further cementing our bonds of friendship.  To us in Bangladesh, we owe a lot to our “delta cousin” the Netherlands. It is with Dutch help, we are working, as we speak, for a hundred year long plan, our flagship program called “Bangladesh Delta Plan 2100”. And our Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina already extended an invitation to her Dutch counterpart Honble Mark Rutte to join her as we are going to launch implementation phase of this Delta Plan.

I would like to express our sincere thanks to the Ministry of Cultural Affairs of Bangladesh as well as the Hon’ble Minister for Cultural Affairs, Mr. Asaduzzaman Noor, MP and Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy for their support to organize this exhibition.

Before I conclude, I will try my last bit to take you where we begun. To our fable childhood. In 1911, legendary artist Picasso was accused of being an accomplice to the theft of the Mona Lisa from the Louvre, after declaring, “Good artists copy, great artists steal!” When Picasso was asked about his exceptional talent, he answered, “When I was a child, I would draw like Raphael, but it’s taken me an entire lifetime to learn to draw like a child.””

Ambassador Belal along with the chief guest and the guest of honour officially inaugurated the exhibition through ribbon cutting. The exhibition will continue till 13 April 2018. A large number of visitors are expected to visit the two week exhibition.


Photography by the Embassy of Bangladesh in The Hague.





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