Volume-1 About Erasures I images, Volume-2 About Masks I Face, Volume-3 About Figures I Gestures, Volume-4 About Landscapes Flowers I Drawings
Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941) won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1913. His works cover almost all the established genres of literature and the performing arts. As a major thinker, he addressed a wide range of issues thrown up by the nationalist movement in the country and the global crises of his time. He conceived and set up Visva-Bharati as a university and a centre of Indian Culture with international connectivity. Late in life, he turned to painting, producing a formidable body of work, pioneering modernism in Indian art.
Rabindra Chitravali is the most comprehensive documentation of any modern Indian artist to date, in its collection of more than 2000 images of Tagore's paintings, drawings and doodles, most of them reproduced-with special care to capture the tones and colours of the originals-for the first time ever. A rich critical apparatus-including commentaries, notes, relevant information and technical details relating to the works reproduced, and an overarching introduction, all provided by Professor R Siva Kumar; translations of Tagore's own writings on art and aesthetics and his own paintings, culled from his essays, correspondence, notes and recorded conversations, and published reviews of his exhibitions-provides a framework for a fresh reading of the works.
R Siva Kumar Ib. 1956), educated in Kerala and Santiniketan, te presently Professor of Art History at Visva-Bharati, Santiniketan has curated several important exhibitions and writen extensively on Modern Indian Art, His publications include The Santiniketan Murals (1995), Santinikotan, The Making of Contextual Modernism (1997), K G Subrarnanyan: A Retrospective (2003), A Ramachandran: A Retrospective (2004), K S Radhakrishnan (2004), Benodebehari Mukherjee; A Centenary Retrospective (2006) co-edited with Gulammohammed Sheikh, KG Subramanyan: The Painted Platters (2007), Paintings of Abanindranath Tagore (2008) and KG Subramanyan: Drawings (2010)
Rabindranath was apprehensive of the reception of his paintings by his contemporaries but was almost certain that they would, along with his songs, outlive his creations in other forms of art and gain in recognition with time. He had two considerations in mind. On the one hand he believed that his contemporaries were not yet ready to receive his paintings, which were unlike anything that was being produced by Indian artists of his time; they had an alien look and lacked in conventional representational skills. On the other hand he believed that painting, like music, and in fact even more than music, and unlike all other arts that depended heavily on language, was closer to nature and more universally appealing and understood. He was convinced that creative work overtly tied up with language and its conventions would eventually slide into oblivion with changes in language. While the Bengali language has not changed enough as yet to render his literary writings inaccessible as he had feared, the interest in his painting, especially among his countrymen, has been steadily growing since the forties.
Although Rabindranath was almost certain that his compatriots would not care for his paintings, this was not entirely true. While the popular and art world response was cautious, Abanindranath Tagore and Nandalal Bose took immediate and positive note of his work and the latter, going beyond approval, also tried to explain it. And the appreciation was not limited to his circle either, though Rabindranath himself was not aware of it. One of the first Indian artists outside his own circle to respond enthusiastically to his work was Amrita Sher-Gil who became to many the chief exemplar of modernism during the 40s. She was a visitor to the first ever exhibition of Rabindranath's paintings in Paris in 1930. She stumbled upon it while visiting the Théâtre Pigalle where one of her works was on show in an exhibition of the Beaux Arts Students' Circle of Women, and is reported to have declared with characteristic impulsiveness: 'I like his drawings better than his poetry even.” Back in India she continued to argue his case with Karl Khandalavala, her friend and art critic, who was not convinced of Rabindranath’s talent and modernism.?
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