Author: Gaganendranath TagorePublisher: National Gallery of Modern ArtYear: 2009Language: EnglishPages: 6ISBN/UPC (if available): N/A
Gaganendranath Tagore was the eldest brother of Abanindranath Tagore and nephew of Rabindranath Tagore. Although he was closely associated with the aesthetic values of the Bengal School he functioned largely outside its stylistic influence. His exposure to art practices all around the world helped him to create a distinctly original style of painting. On one hand he was inspired by the Japanese wash technique and on the other by the cubistic, futuristic and expressionist trends of European art practices. In spite of the eclecticism of his outlook, his vision and technique were very individual. Gaganendranath’s great sense of humour and satire found expression in some remarkable caricatures, which primarily aimed at commenting on the erosion of social and moral values under the impact of colonial rule. His satires also pinpointed the hypocrisies and contradictions within society. He was responsible for establishing ‘Jorasanko (the Tagore residence) Theatre’ in 1867 and was actively involved with designing stage settings and costumes for various plays. Some of his art works display a remarkable influence of theatre.CUBISTIC TEMPLE (Acc. No. 1007)A multi-storied cubistic temple emerges from an infinite dark space. The painting displays the artist’s involvement with prisms, cubes and inter-penetrating planes of light and colour. The vibrant colours and contrasting values of light in their juxtaposition with the dark depths of space add an intriguing quality to the work. There is also a great sense of movement and dynamism.CHRIST IN THE CHURCH (Acc. No. 1750)In this painting, the spiritual glow on the face of Christ subtly illuminates the pious devotee who is playing the piano. A staircase emerging from infinity serves as a threshold that connects the two. Gaganendranath captures in a highly expressive manner the relationship between the divine and the devotee. It appears that the devotional prayer invoked the divine presence.HUMAN SCREAM (Acc. No. 1751)The human scream is a social satire in which the artist comments on the working class that uses strikes as a weapon to achieve their demands. The strike is represented by a grotesque figure garbed in western attire. He is shown busy playing billiards, ignorant of the result of his deeds. Rabindranath Tagore, the personification of a human scream, is trying to awake him from his ignorance. The caricature is an attempt to comment on those Indians who were blindly following western conventions without understanding their repercussions.LOVE MESSENGER (Acc. No. 2332)This painting based on Indonesian shadow puppets, is a testimony to Gaganendranath’s openness to art forms from around the world. His experiment with stage designs and costumes set the context for the structure of the work where on a magnificent proscenium a puppet show is demonstrated.MAGICIAN (Acc. No. 2333)The painting acknowledges cubism in the treatment of dynamics between space and form and the use of geometrical flat planes. However, here the forms are derived from far eastern artistic traditions. The work represents the artist’s cosmopolitan attitude towards international art trends where he amalgamated two distinct traditions in his own unique style. In a dramatic manner he brings out the haunting quality of the interior through the remarkable treatment of spatial depths as well as the play of light and dark. Further the striking balance achieved between the strong bare red foreground and the black and white structural forms give the overall composition a theatrical effect.RABINDRANATH TAGORE (Acc. No. 1003)Rabindranath Tagore is portrayed as an embodiment of knowledge and spirituality. The metaphor is brought out in an evocative manner through the play of light and shade. Set within a cave, the composition hints to the introspective nature of the poet.