Tuesday marked the 80th birthday of Ekushey Padak winning eminent Bangladeshi cartoonist, painter and Emeritus Professor at the Dhaka University Faculty of Fine Art, Rafiqun Nabi.

Celebrating the birthday of the revered artist, popularly known as 'Ranabi' and the creator of the popular cartoon character 'Tokai' - the Faculty of Fine Arts initiated a special exhibition and a felicitation ceremony on Tuesday.

The exhibition of cartoons, covers and posters drawn by the artist was inaugurated at the Zainul Gallery of the faculty on Tuesday. Dhaka University Vice-Chancellor Professor Dr ASM Maksud Kamal who inaugurated the exhibition as the chief guest.

A felicitation ceremony comprising a discussion session and cultural performances was held at Bakultala of the Faculty of Fine Arts which was joined by prominent artists, cultural institutions, art admirers and well-wishers of the eminent artist. The ceremony was chaired by popular thespian, cultural personality and former Cultural Affairs Minister Asaduzzaman Noor.

Education Minister Dr Dipu Moni, emeritus Professor and eminent artist Hashem Khan, emeritus Professor Nazrul Islam, former Bangladesh Bank Governor and honorary Professor of the Department of Development Studies at Dhaka University Dr Atiur Rahman, art maestro and educator Professor Mustafa Monowar, Faculty of Fine Art Dean Professor Nisar Hossain, dramatist Ramendu Majumder and others.

"Prof Rafiqun Nabi is a valuable asset not only to Dhaka University but also to the entire country. Through his distinctive works of art, the artist has transcended time and place, transforming himself from an individual to an institution. His painting portrays not just Bangladesh, but also the inconsistency-lawlessness, good and bad, of several countries across the world," DU Vice-Chancellor Professor Dr ASM Maksud Kamal said at the event, wishing good health, prosperity and long life to the artist on his birth anniversary.

Reminiscing his moments with 'Ranabi' during the turbulent period of the Liberation War in 1971, Asaduzzaman Noor said that Rafiqun Nabi was among the catalysts of making handmade posters containing revolutionary messages against the oppressors, before becoming one of the most revered art educators in the country.

After the discussion, several personalities and institutions namely Bangladesh National Museum, Gallery Cosmos, Daily Prothom Alo, Bengal Foundation, Engineer Moinul Abedin on behalf of Shilpacharya Zainul Abedin's family, Narayanganj Fine Arts Institute, Shanto Mariam University of Creative Technology, Durjoy Foundation, Abinta Gallery of Fine Arts, Art Bangla Foundation, Bangladesh Television, Chapainawabganj District Association, Khelaghar, Bangladesh Institute of Architects and others felicitated the revered artists with flowers.

Popular musical troop Joler Gaan and other prominent cultural units including Chhayanat, Udichi, Aranyak, Karak, Panchabhaskar, and Shanto Mariam University then performed enthralling music, poetry recitation, drama, and dance at the event.

Professor Rafiqun Nabi was born on November 28, 1943, in the Chapainawabganj district of the then-Indian subcontinent during the British regime. He completed his Bachelor's and Master's at the East Pakistan College of Arts and Crafts (now the Dhaka University Faculty of Fine Art), where he was a direct student of Shilpacharya Zainul Abedin and Quamrul Hassan.

From 1973-1976, he studied printmaking at the Athens School of Fine Arts under the Greek Government's postgraduate scholarship.

Starting his career as a professional cartoonist in 1963 for Weekly Purbodesh, Nabi served as a faculty member of the DU Faculty of Fine Art from 1964 to 2010. His iconic character 'Tokai' first appeared in the anniversary issue of Weekly Bichitra in 1977.

For his contribution to the country's art, Rafiqun Nabi was awarded the Ekushey Padak in 1993.

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