Published:  12:06 AM, 20 May 2017

Empire of S. M. Sultan at Narail

Empire of S. M. Sultan at Narail

S. M. Sultan was one of the greatest personalities in this district. His full name is Sheikh Mohammed Sultan (10 August, 1923 to 10 October, 1994), was a Bangladesh avant-garde artist who worked in painting and drawing. His fame rests on his striking depictions of exaggeratedly muscular Bangladeshi peasants engaged in the activities of their everyday lives. For his achievement in fine arts, he was awarded with the Ekushey Padak in 1982; the Bangladesh Charu Shilpi Sangsad Award in 1986; and the Independence Day Award in 1993. His works are exhibited in several major collections in Bangladesh, including the Bangladesh National Museum, the National Art Gallery (Bangladesh), the S.M. Sultan Memorial Museum, and the Bengal Foundation.

Sultan was born in Machimdia village, in what was then Jessore District, British India (now Narail District, Bangladesh) on 10 August 1923. After five years of primary education at Victoria Collegiate School in Narail, he went to work for his father, a mason. Even as a child he felt a strong artistic urge. He seized every opportunity to draw with charcoal, and developed his talent depicting the buildings his father worked on. Sultan wanted to study art in Calcutta (Kolkata), but his family did not have the means to send him. Eventually, he secured financial support from the local zamindar and went to Calcutta in 1938.

There poet and art critic Hasan Shahid Suhrawardy restyled him S. M. Sultan and offered him accommodation in his home and the use of his library. Sultan did not meet the admissions requirements of the Government School of Art, but in 1941 managed to get in with the help of Suhrawardy, who was on the school's governing body. Under Principal Mukul Chandra Dey the school deemphasized the copying of Old Masters and moved beyond Indian mythological, allegorical, and historical subjects. Students were encouraged to paint contemporary landscapes and portraits expressing original themes from their own life experience.

The art gallery in Narail at S. M. Sultan Memorial contains collection of his paintings. A significant portion of first and second floor is occupied by his paintings. This artist was concerned about preserving his works. S. M. Sultan had a boat by which he used to have a pleasure trip over the river Chitra. This boat was placed beside his house, also beside the river itself. A boat race locally known as Nouka Baich used to hold every year at River Chitra.  It is located in Narail district of Khulna division. After reaching Narail you may take van or rickshaw from anywhere from the town to come here.

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