This show, opening in the city on February 18, by 13 contemporary artists of India can perhaps be described as a prism through which today’s generation of painters and sculptors view Rabindranath Tagore, the myriad-minded genius. Akar Prakar and the Indian Council of Cultural Relations(ICCR) have put together this exhibition, which the public can view at ICCR till March 5.
This exhibition actually brings together a diverse range of artists to gauge the impact of Tagore’s cultural legacy in India and the rest of the world. “The artists examine Tagore’s views of nature, nationalism, gender, education and much else besides and place them in a contemporary context. Tagore merits analysis because of his staggering achievements and one does not need to agree with his views to recognize the greatness of these achievements”, explains Anirudh Chari in his curatorial note.
For example, taking his title from Tagore’s ‘Amra Shobai Raja’, Sheikh Sahajahan criticizes the lack of democracy, empathy and dignity in the decision making process in modern-day Santiniketan which he feels has almost forsaken the ideals of Tagore. In Manjari Chakravarti’s Vanishing Wives of Santiniketan, the artist has noted sixteen cases of her friends and neighbours, all women, who left Tagore’s Santiniketan to live life on their own terms. Many of these were close to her and intrigued and disturbed by their exodus, the artiist has wondered about their reasons for leaving.
Again, taking a cue from Tagore short story ‘Manihara’, one of the artists draws from the character of Manimalika, who is obsessed with her jewels to the point of leaving her husband to save her jewels and her life in the process. Chandrima Bhattacharya’s Manimalika is a fashionable woman, who is obsessed with her hats, the more bizarre they are, the more exclusive they become.
Acclaimed in Munich and Berlin, where the show travelled in 2011, the show also features works by Aditya Basak, Jayashree Chakravarti, Adip Dutta, Rima Kundu, Debanjan Roy, Chhatrapati Dutta, Shrabani Roy, Paula Sengupta, Adip Dutta, Debraj Goswami and Samir Roy.
What shines through all 26 works is the many facets of the bard’s personality---- poet, artist, philosopher, traveller and educationist. Said Reena Lath, CEO of Akar Prakar, “Rabindranath’s extensive journeys all over the world greatly enhanced his perspective of art and culture to make it a truly cosmopolitan and international, all embracing one. His legacy therefore manifests itself in today’s artistic sensibility ”. Said Abhijit Lath, Director of Akar Prakar, “The show marks our tribute to Tagore, who was born 150 years ago but whose art—created in the last phase of his life---bears the impression of a contemporary and complex mind.”