THE APPEAL OF TAGORE PAINTINGS
Rabindranath Tagore started painting in 1924 at the age of 63. However, an element of such efforts could be noticed in various corrections and doodles in his manuscripts, particularly during the penning of “Purabi”, during Tagore's fateful visit to Buenos Aires in 1924. His companion there, Victoria Ocampo, arranged the first exhibition of Tagore's paintings in Paris in May 1930. Later, the exhibitions travelled to other famous destinations in Europe and North America: Birmingham, London, Berlin, Munich, Dresden, Copenhagen, Geneva, Moscow, Boston, New York and Philadelphia in May 1931.
Nandalal Bose, eminent artist at Santiniketan, wrote -- “There are three major factors in Tagore's paintings -- rhythm, balance and indulgence. These qualities he acquired during his vast period of writing poems and songs.”
Tagore created nearly 2,300 paintings and drawings. To revisit the artistic genius of Tagore, Bangladesh National Museum has organised an exhibition featuring 120 replicas of his artworks at its Nalini Kanta Bhattasali Gallery. The exhibition opened on May 14, marking the 155th birth anniversary of the bard. Finance Minister AMA Muhith inaugurated the show as chief guest with Cultural Affairs Minister Asaduzzaman Noor was special guest.
Tagore was free and open-minded in selecting the medium for his paintings. He used black lead pencils, colour pencils, pastel colours, coloured ink, water colours and colours extracted from leaves and flowers. He made paintings very fast, mostly in one sitting. While drawing, he made use of the pen, brush, fingertips and even the sleeves of his loose garments.
Golden yellow was Tagore's favorite colour, as it resembles the rice fields of autumn, for which Tagore had an affinity. Dark chocolate and black have also been copiously used in many of his paintings. He admitted that he was colour-blind to red and green – and he used them sparsely.
Tagore drew several portraits of women with sad and distressed appearances. He once told Nandalal Bose that while drawing the female visage he was reminded of his sister-in-law Kadambari Devi. He drew several self-portraits where he tried to avoid distortions and made them as close to real as possible.
The exhibit divides the artworks into different theme-based groups for a better understanding of the self-taught painter. The first kind presents free-form doodles from his manuscripts. The next group, presenting Tagore's women, showcases his unfettered approach to the subjects. Mainly done in ink, colour pen and pastel, the female figures do not fall into any generalised category. Free lines, random but expressive choice of colours, deep tones, compositional balance and harmony, fantasy, rhythm and vivacity mark these paintings and drawings.
Other categories of paintings portray landscapes, animals, birds, flowers and self-portraits. Besides these works, the exhibit also displays a number of photographs of Tagore, his friends and family and several of his peers from both the East and West.
The exhibition remains open until May 31.