The Minister of
Culture Smt. Chandresh Kumari Katoch today inaugurated an exhibition entitled
‘The Last Harvest’- Paintings by Rabindranath Tagore. Secretary, Culture Smt. Sangita Gairola was
the Guest of Honour on the occasion at the National
Gallery of Modern Art.
Speaking on the
occasion, Smt. Chandresh Kumari Katoch has said that a whole generation has
passed since the poet’s death, and, perhaps, he is just beginning to be
understood. Tagore embraced ‘Modern’ both in art and poetry, long before his
contemporaries or the younger generation. However, what still remains to be
explained is the relation between has verbal and visual expressions and his
psyche and inner self. The more I see Tagore, I
believe that the frequent use of pictorial imagery and visual metaphors in his
poetry is also a rich source for understanding his paintings.
She said that it
is indeed a moment to congratulate the curator Prof. R. Siva Kumar for his
insightful contribution and meticulous effort and the National Gallery of
Modern Art for the successful showing of this exhibition across the globe.
the 150th birth anniversary of Rabindranath Tagore, the Government
of India constituted a committee to plan a number of programs nationally and
internationally, including showcasing Tagore’s paintings at select museums
across the world from 2011 to 2012. The Last Harvest: Paintings by Rabindranath
Tagore comprises works on paper drawn from three collections in India.
The works of art
are drawn from the prestigious collections of Rabindra
Bhavan, Kala Bhavan, Visva Bharati
Santiniketan and from the National Gallery of Modern
Art, New Delhi. The majority of the works comprise haunting heads, romantic
figures, and melancholy landscapes. Then there are dancing figures as well as
fantastic and bizarre forms. What is remarkable about these works painted some
75 to 80 years ago is their timeless quality. Rising beyond its immediate
context, Tagore’s art continues to communicate with new generation in new ways
and with new meanings.
The drawings and
paintings of the poet had richly traced the extraordinary inner journey of a
complex individual through the ecstatic affirmation of existence manifest as
rhythm-articulate inherent in form self-referent, towards, to the convinced
cognition of individuated imagery as dramatic characterization of concepts and
associations, being the total fantasy of the emotional world.
The Director of
NGMA, Prof. Rajeev Lochan has said that this
exhibition has been mounted at nine major museums across three continents. The Last Harvest – a series of remarkable exhibitions
of Rabindranath Tagore’s works were organized at the following venues during
the period initiated against each.
Art Museum, Berlin (1st September- 30th
Society, New York (15.9.2011 to 2.01.2012)
Museum of Korea (19.9.2011 to 27.11.2011)
and Albert Museum, London (13.12.2011 to 4.3.2012)
Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago (January 28, 2012 to April 15th, 2012)
Palais, Paris, France ( 30.01.2012 to 11.03.2012)
Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Art, Rome (28.3.2012 to 27.05.2012)
Visual Art Gallery of Malaysia, Kuala Lampur
(2.04.2012 to 15.07.2012)
Canadian Art Collection, Ontario, Canada (24.5.2010 to 15.07.2012)
In this exhibition the works are grouped into what may
be considered four important facets of his oeuvre. His earliest paintings grew
out of the doodles he did in his manuscripts while attempting to turn crossed
out words and discarded lines into visually exciting motifs. These have an
element of playful inventiveness and involve morphological cross-projections
that defy perceptual experience. If the subliminal played an important part in
his first paintings, painting itself led him to pay attention to the pageant of
forms in nature. The landscapes included in these selections are a token of
this shift. As he progressed he also began to see the human body not merely as
form but as gestures carrying within them the seeds of visual narration and
theatre – ambivalent as they may remain without the benefit of names. A third
group of paintings bring this into focus. And finally there are his
representations of the human face; hovering between hieratic masks and
individualised portraits, they turn countenance into characters.
The four groups may be highlighted thus:
Group 1: This group contains some
of his earliest paintings, they are either geometrical
or arabesque and have an element of playful inventiveness
involving morphological cross-projections that defy reality.
Group 2 Nature was an enduring theme in Rabindranath’s
writings and songs, he felt a deep companionship with nature since his
childhood. A more meditative and observant come through in his landscapes and
Group 3 As a playwright and actor Rabindranath was sensitive
to gesture and its dramatic and narrative potential; the paintings in this
group bring this into focus.
Group 4 This
group consists of his representations of the human face into which he reads
traces of social and personal life. They are products of observation and
Finally a word
about the title of the exhibition. For Rabindranath Tagore who welcomed contact with other cultures to
foster creativity, and for whom the touchstone of authenticity was not the
lineage of one’s language but one’s ability to make it one’s own, the value of
art lay not in its source or style but in being an imperative of life. And
painting was the last enchantment of his life, his last personal imperative. ‘I
am hopelessly entangled in the spell that the lines have cast all around me….
If I were a free agent... unburdened by any care,’ he wrote to close friend in
1928 just when he was embarking on his career as a painter, ‘I would live by
the Padma and gather a harvest of pictures and
nothing but pictures to load the Golden Boat of Time with.’ He was burdened
with too many commitments to allow himself that privilege but the harvest has
been good (well over two thousand paintings in thirteen years) and this
exhibition carries a small part of it eighty years after he himself had ferried
it across the world for the first time.