Image Courtesy: Google Doodle

Novera Ahmed (29 March 1939 – 6 May 2015) was a Bangladeshi sculptor and painter who is considered one of the most significant modern artists of South Asia. She is known for her pioneering work in modern sculpture, which incorporated elements of traditional Bangladeshi art, as well as for her innovative use of materials and techniques.

Life and Career

Ahmed was born on 29 March 1939, in Sundarbans, Bengal then was in India (currently located in Bangladesh). She was born in a prominent family. Her father was a judge, and her mother was an artist. She studied at the Government Art Institute in Dhaka, where she was trained in traditional painting and sculpture techniques. In the 1950s, she traveled to Paris, where she studied at the École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts and worked in the studio of the sculptor Ossip Zadkine.

In the 1960s and 1970s, Ahmed began to develop her own style of sculpture, which combined elements of traditional Bangladeshi art with modernist techniques and materials. Her work often featured abstract forms and organic shapes, and she used a wide range of materials, including bronze, stone, wood, and fiberglass.

Some of Ahmed’s most famous works include the “Rana Plaza Tragedy Memorial,” a sculpture commemorating the victims of the 2013 Rana Plaza building collapse in Bangladesh, and “Spirit of the Marshes,” a series of sculptures inspired by the natural landscape of Bangladesh.

In addition to her work as a sculptor, Ahmed was also an accomplished painter and printmaker. Her paintings often featured abstract forms and bright colors, and she experimented with a wide range of materials and techniques.

Ahmed’s work has been exhibited in galleries and museums around the world, including the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. She was awarded the Ekushey Padak, one of Bangladesh’s highest civilian honors, in 1997, and was named a National Professor by the government of Bangladesh in 2013. She died on 6 May 2015 at the age of 75.

Award and Legacy

Novera Ahmed’s legacy as an artist has had a significant impact on the art world in South Asia and beyond. Her innovative work in sculpture, which combined traditional Bangladeshi art with modernist techniques, helped to establish a new style of sculpture in the region.

Ahmed’s work has been recognized with numerous awards and honors, both in Bangladesh and internationally. Some of these include:

  • The Ekushey Padak, one of Bangladesh’s highest civilian honors, in 1997
  • The Shilpakala Padak, the highest award for contribution to fine arts in Bangladesh, in 2013
  • The Asian Art Award for Lifetime Achievement in Visual Arts, in 2015

Ahmed’s sculptures and paintings can be found in galleries and museums around the world, including the National Museum of Bangladesh, the British Museum in London, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Her work continues to inspire and influence artists in Bangladesh and beyond.

On 29 March 2019, Google celebrated Novera Ahmed’s 80th Birthday with a doodle.

In addition to her contributions to the art world, Ahmed was also a passionate advocate for women’s rights and education in Bangladesh. She helped to establish the first women’s university in the country, and her work as an artist and activist has had a lasting impact on the cultural and social landscape of Bangladesh.

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