Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh inaugurated today a specially curated exhibition entitled the ‘The Master’s Strokes: Art of Rabindranath Tagore’ at the National Gallery of Modern Art, Jaipur House. The exhibition, mounted from the treasures of the NGMA is part of 150th Year Celebration of Rabindranath Tagore, and showcases a lesser known facet of the widely acclaimed multifaceted genius Rabindranath Tagore.
The visionary aspect of Rabindranath’s genius is most exemplified in his art. The poet, dramatist, philosopher, educationist, composer of a musical genre, Tagore received the Nobel prize for literature in 1913, the first Indian to achieve this honour. Born in a highly educated and affluent family of Bengal, Rabindranath Tagore grew up in a very creative environment. But, he began painting very late in his life, when he was well into his 60’s. Though he had hardly any formal training in art, he developed a highly imaginative and spontaneous visual vocabulary, enhanced by a sound understanding of diverse art practices.
Beginning as a subconscious process where doodles and erasures in his manuscripts assumed fantastic forms, Tagore gradually produced a variety of images including mysterious heads, beasts, masks, mystic landscapes and whimsical birds and flowers. His work displays a superb 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 colored 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 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.
Rabindranath Tagore, in the last 17 years of his life, made more than 3000 paintings and drawings. The NGMA has in its collection more than 100 of these, of which 70 will be exhibited. By mounting this exhibition, the NGMA seeks to honour and reintroduce the artist and his artworks. In Tagore’s own words, “We who have traded in lyrics should know that these will not find acceptance in another time. This is inevitable. So I often think that painting has a deathless quality”