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Author: Rabindranath Tagore
Publisher: National Gallery of Modern Art
ISBN/UPC (if available): N/A
A recipient of the Noble Prize (1913) for literature, Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941) was born in an affluent Bengali family. The versatile genius developed an acute sensibility towards various art forms such as literature, poetry, dance and music. He well aware of contemporary cultural trends around the world. Tagore’s journey as a painter began in his late sixties as an extension of his poetic consciousness. Though he has hardly any formal training in art, he developed a highly imaginative and spontaneous visual vocabulary, enhanced by a sound understanding of visual art practices such as modern western, primitive and child art.
Beginning as a subconscious process where doodles and erasures in his manuscripts assumed some form, Tagore gradually produced a variety of images including fantasized and bizarre beasts, masks, mysterious human faces, mystic landscapes, birds and flowers. His work displays a great sense of fantasy, Rhythm and vitality. A powerful imagination added an inexplicable strangeness to his work that is sometimes experienced as eerie and evocative. Tagore celebrated creative freedom in his technique; he never hesitated to daub and smear coloured ink on paper to give life to his disquieting range of subjects. His drawings and ink paintings are freely executed with brush, rag, cotton-wool and even his fingers. For Tagore, art was the bridge that connected the individual with the world. A modernist, Tagore completely belonged to the world of his time particularly in the realm of art.
This Portfolio includes following Paintings:
VASE (Acc. No. 1001)
There is an inherent rhythm in the movement generated by the flowing lines. Originally, these tangled and intricate meanders and arabesques occupied the pages of Tagore’s manuscripts as erasures along with the text. But later these rhythmic configurations found an entity and spirit of their own. About these decorative scribbling the poet writes: “I try to make the corrections dance, connect them in a rhythmic relationship and transform accumulation into adornment.”
DANCING WOMAN (Acc. No. 1246)
The painting captures a woman dancing with a sense of abandon and rhythm. Her swirling form which is about to merge with the background space is mysterious and haunting. She seems to belong as much to the realm of awakening as to that of dreaming.
TWO FACES (Acc. No.1266)
Hovering in space, two expressive faces appear gruesome but ethereal. They communicate an innate glow. The work corresponds to one of Tagore’s poetic compositions from Chitralipi;
A Strange face, uninvited
Hovers before my brush
Making me wonder
Whence does it appear?
LADY WITH FLOWER (Acc. No.1274)
The poet’s devotional songs seem to take evocative and sensuous form in ‘lady with a flower’. The work epitomizes the lyrical romanticism that is often seen in Tagore’s paintings and literature. By not drawing the form completely, the artist has brought out with subtlety, the innocence and purity of the devotee’s heart. The illuminated flower hints at it being blessed to be the service of the divine. The image echoes lines from his verse ‘Flower’ part of his Noble Prize winning collection of poems Geetanjali:
Pluck this little flower and take it, delay not! I fear lest it
Droop and drop into the dust.
I may not find a place in thy garland, but honour it with a touch of
Pain from thy hand and pluck it. I fear lest the day end before I am
Aware, and the time of offering go by.
Though its colour is not deep and its smell is faint, use this flower
in thy service and pluck it while there is time.
FACE (Acc. No. 1284)
This is one of the most haunting images in Tagore’s repertoire of Mysterious and brooding heads. The piercing eyes open a window to the melancholy in the soul. Tagore had an extraordinary power to create highly evocative imagery with the simple medium of ink applied freely on paper. In the later phase of his artistic endeavors, the poet self-consciously started painting and looked for models upon which to base his sketches and drawings. This painting belongs to this phase of Tagore’s artistic activities.
LANDSCAPE (Acc. No. 1291)
The metaphoric landscape with swaying tree captures the evocative and energized spirit of nature. In his series of paintings depicting the fertile terrain of Bengal, Tagore attempted to capture the nuances of twilight and dawn, not being interested in the specifics of a place. The magnitude of nature is also central to Tagore’s philosophy as he stressed on living in harmony with nature.