A fair that brings to fore Tagore's painter facet

A fair that brings to fore Tagore's painter facet

Providing a perspective peek into one of India’s gifted, most cherished and celebrated poet laureate Rabindranath Tagore are a series of 100-odd paintings that colourfully adorn the specially curated exhibition at the National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA), commissioned as part of Tagore’s 150th birth anniversary celebrations.

Self-styled as The Last Harvest, these rare, yet exquisitively done works of paintings by the noble son of Bengal, which give an illustrative and instructive glimpse into the very many facets of the iconic and revered persona, speak of Tagore’s hitherto much lesser known and celebrated side of the connoisseur, practitioner and patron of art.

The ensemble of exhibits on display, drawn from as early as the late 1920s, walks the awed viewers through various thought processes of Tagore and his specific concern revolving around women, who incidentally dominate several of his painterly creations. Be it the dancing figures or of a nude woman seated on a decorative chair, Tagore’s expressions of freedom for woman, woman as a symbol of progress, which critics consider path-breaking, reveal the prodigious creative artist’s yen to excel even in the elusive art form which he took to in his 60s.

Given that the cultural melting pot — Shantiniketan — was peopled by several painters prompting one of the prime exponents of Bengal Renaissance to paint, writing and music, playwriting and acting came to him naturally, while painting eluded him, as the curator of The Last Harvest: Paintings of Rabindranath Tagore, Raman Sivakumar, explained to Deccan Herald.

Tagore, Sivakumar elucidated, was someone who used his paintings as symbols.
The symbols full of statements that reflect this thought, which for the time he worked, were not only complex but also innovative. Sivakumar has been teaching art history at Kala Bhavan, Shantiniketan since 1981.

For a whole generation of artists like M F Husain, Akbar Padamsee, Paramjit Singh, Atul Dodiya and others, Sivakumar said: “Tagore, who primarily is a writer, has been inspirational.”

Not only was Tagore’s thought inspiring, but his methods of painting, which he had termed ‘foundlings’ also set a trend. For Tagore, remaining creative was more important than being ‘Indian’. His emphasis, as his artwork reflects and experts decipher, was on the ability to be able to borrow. Not to imitate.
“Tagore believed that it was not modern to imitate the West, or anybody else. But he thought that he could, one should, borrow,” Sivakumar explained, adding that He (Tagore) believed that only those who feared they could not give back  hesitated to borrow.

Even his other paintings, the landscapes, the composites, the animals, are all modern, given the time of their creation. These were idols of renaissance in India, not just a part of galleries, but punctuations of progress.

Art, Tagore had once said “is the response of the creative soul to  the real.” Reality of his times might have had different characters, but messages his paintings have are still apt. It is no cliche-wielding then, if Tagore, along with his paintings, is called an idol of Indian renaissance.

The expo

‘The Last Harvest’, exhibition displaying some of Rabindranath Tagore’s rare paintings opened at National Gallery of Modern Art.

The exhibition, on till August 14, has divided his works into 4 categories: 1) Animals and Composite 2) Landscape 3) Figures & Dramatic Scenes and 4) Faces & characters.
The exhibition has been taken to many Indian cities such as Mumbai and other parts of the world, before coming to Bangalore.

Comments (+)