Zainul Abedin was born in Kishoreganj, East Bengal, on December 29, 1914. Much of his childhood was spent near the scenic banks of the Brahmaputra River. The Brahmaputra would later appear in many of his paintings and be a source of inspiration all throughout his career. In 1933, Abedin was admitted to Calcutta Government Art School in Kolkata. He joined the faculty of the same school after his education was completed. A series of watercolours that Zainul did as his tribute to the Brahmaputra River earned him the Governor’s Gold Medal in an all-India exhibition in 1938. This award gave Abedin the confidence to create his own visual style.
Zainul Abedin, painter as well as teacher, is himself the founder and leading artist of what has come to “Dacca Art Group”. He was also the principal of Government Art Institute, Dacca, East Pakistan (now Bangladesh). His paintings and drawings have been widely seen and admired in composite exhibitions by UNESCO and various international bodies, as well as group exhibitions in Europe, Turkey, Japan, Mexico and USA.
Zainul Abedin has painted extensively in wide variety of styles, ranging from purely objective and almost photographic to various abstract and semi-abstract studies. He was very interested in Japanese painting style.