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English Release 30-September 2014
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Ministry of Culture19-November, 2012 16:51 IST
Smt. Chandresh Kumari Katoch inaugurates ‘The Last Harvest’: Paintings by Rabindranath Tagore

 

 

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.

 

To commemorate 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.

 

·        Asian Art Museum, Berlin  (1st September- 30th October, 2011)

·        Asia Society, New York (15.9.2011 to 2.01.2012)

·        National Museum of Korea (19.9.2011 to 27.11.2011)

·        Victoria and Albert Museum, London (13.12.2011 to 4.3.2012)

·        The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago (January 28, 2012 to April 15th, 2012)

·        Petit Palais, Paris, France ( 30.01.2012 to 11.03.2012)

·        National Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Art, Rome (28.3.2012 to 27.05.2012)

·        National Visual Art Gallery of Malaysia, Kuala Lampur (2.04.2012 to 15.07.2012)

·        McMichael 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 flower         pieces.

 

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 psychological probing.

 

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.

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