Painter Qayyum Chowdhury dies after collapsing at classical music fest

Celebrated artist Qayyum Chowdhury has died under most dramatic and tragic of circumstances: collapsing on stage before he could say his last words.

Published : 30 Nov 2014, 03:29 PM
Updated : 1 Dec 2014, 04:57 PM

He collapsed on stage around 8:40pm on Sunday after addressing the audience on the third day of the Bengal Classical Music Festival being held at Dhaka’s Army Stadium.

The 82-year-old Ekushey Padak and Independence Award-winning painter was rushed to the Combined Military Hospital (CMH) where doctors declared him dead, sources told Correspondent Chintamon Tussher who was covering the festival said organisers after a while also announced the artist's death and observed a minute’s silence.

Tussher said Chowdhury had finished his speech but went back to add: “I’ve something I want to say.”

Professor Emeritus Anisuzzaman was also on stage at the time to address the programme when Chowdhury fell unconscious and suffered a bad fall.

The event was suspended for sometime right away while he was being taken to the hospital.

Reciter Bhaswar Bandapadhay then announced that Chowdhury had sustained head injuries from the fall.

President Md Abdul Hamid, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia have condoled Chowdhury's sudden demise.

His body has been taken to Square Hospital at Panthapath from the CMH.

His daughter-in-law, Dhaka University's history teacher Mrittika Shahita told the body would be kept there for the night.

Cultural Affairs Minister Asaduzzaman Noor speaks to journalists at Square Hospital in Dhaka on Nov 30.

Cultural Affairs Minister Asaduzzman Noor, speaking for the family, told reporters Chowdhury's body would be taken to DU's Faculty of Fine Arts around 10am Monday for the students to pay their last tributes to the gifted painter.
The body would be kept at the Central Shaheed Minar premises from 11am to 1pm for the people to pay last respects.
Noor said Chowdhury's Namaj-e-Janaza would be held at the DU Central Mosque after the Zuhr prayers.
He added the artist would be laid to rest at Azimpur Graveyard in the afternoon.
Credited with transforming design and illustration of book covers, Qayyum Chowdhury mastered the art of presenting folk elements of Bengal in oil and water media in modern form.
One of the leading publishers in Bangladesh, Mawla Brothers chief Ahmed Mahmudul Haque told that the book cover design and illustration will be much poorer now that Chowdhury had left the stage.
Born on Mar 9, 1932 in Feni, he graduated from Dhaka Art College, now the Faculty of Fine Arts under Dhaka University, in 1954.
He took to designing covers by working on Zahir Raihan’s book ‘Shesh Bikeler Meye’.
Enthusiasts say Chowdhury took the artistic quality of book covers to a new height.
He designed the cover of Shamsur Rahman’s first poetry collection -- 'Prothom Gaan Dwitiya Mrityur Age' -- and several books of Syed Shamsul Haque.

Qayyum Chowdhury received the Independence Award this year.

Qayyum Chowdhury at work at the Liberation War Museum on Mar 26, 2008. Photo: mustafiz mamun/

Professor Chowdhury joined Dhaka Art College as a teacher in 1957. He got married in 1960 to Tehera Khanam, who was two batches junior to him at the institute.
He left teaching in 1960 and joined Design Center, headed by artist Qamrul Hassan, as a designer. A year later, he left Design Center and joined Observer Group of Publications as the chief artist.
Chowdhury went back to Dhaka Art College in 1965 and retired from the institute in 1997 as a professor.
He had been involved with daily Prothom Alo since its inception in 1998.
He received Ekushey Padak (Award) in 1986 and Swadhinata Puroshkar (Independence Award) this year in recognition of his work. He had many other local and international awards to his credit.
Chowdhury was a member of Bangladesh Bank’s currency note design committee and mural committee, having designed several currency notes in circulation.
Toufique Imrose Khalidi
Editor-in-Chief and Publisher