Ranjit Das is regarded as one of the most influential contemporary painters. His technique is easily recognisable and he can interpret diverse dimensions with his outstanding style and techniques, where colours, lines, textures and forms merge together. The artist talked about Shantiniketan and its varied cultural and historical aspects.
Das first visited Shantiniketan in 1980. At that time, he was doing his Masters at Baroda University. His thesis was on the Landscape Painting of Bengal. Das said, “On my first visit, I found an immense similarity between the landscape of Shantiniketan and that in Rabindranath Tagore’s paintings. Tagore had taken most of the themes from Shantiniketan’s tranquil nature and its varied aspects.”
Shantiniketan is adorned with splendid sculptures, frescoes, murals and paintings of Rabindranath Tagore, Nandalal Bose, Ramkinkar Baij, Binod Bihari, Mukul Dey and others. The place is also a tourist attraction because the bard wrote many of his literary classics here and his residence is a place of historical importance. Tagore taught students in the mornings and wrote textbooks for his students in the afternoons and evenings.
Das said, “Many of my friends are associated with Kala Bhavan. The art institute is still considered one of the best art colleges in the world. Other institutions here include Vidya Bhavan, the Institute of Humanities, Sangeet Bhavan, the Institute of Dance, Drama and Music, Rabindra Bhavan, the Institute of Tagore Studies and Research as well as others.”
The main attractions of Shantiniketan are the buildings on the Visva-Bharati campus. The poet lived in the Uttarayan Complex which comprises several buildings – Udayan, Shyamali and others. The Kala Bhavan gallery has paintings by Bengal’s renowned artists like Abanindranath Tagore, Gaganendranath Tagore and Nandalal Bose.
Das also visited several fairs including Nandan Mela, Poush Mela, Joydev Mela, Basanta Utsab and Rabindra Jayanti and others. The place is one of the significant cultural hubs where varied cultural activities are held all the year round. The students of Shantiniketan usually take part in these riveting programmes.
“After the 1980s, I went there many times. I feel Shantiniketan is the region of seasonal variation. Each season has its own beauty and features in this cultural hub. In Shantiniketan, the climate is good and the weather is conducive for living and acquiring knowledge. Each season comes with new reverberation, scenes and beauty. I was mesmerised by the scenic beauty of the river Khoyai on a moonlit night in Shantiniketan,” added Das.