Most of us know Rabindranath Tagore as a poet, song-composer, writer, essayist, novelist and a dramatist. Only a few of us know that he was a brilliant painter. He has produced nearly 2,500 paintings that have been exhibited around the globe- in India, other parts of Asia and Europe. He did not only paint as a sporadic experiment of his creativity but he also wrote extensively about art and aesthetics. It was his love for art that lead to the establishment of ‘Kala Bhavan’, the institute of art, as a part of his University at Shantiniketan – Visva Bharati.
Tagore had grown up as a child in the famous Jorashako Thakurbari of Kolkata. It had huge paintings of forefathers hung in rows. Moreover, it was a nerve-centre of Bengali intellectual movement. A house whose every member had made great contribution to art and literature. As a young boy, Tagore regularly came across many people associated with art, music and literature. These interactions and exposure helped Tagore to imbibe the essence of aesthetics.
For Tagore art and aesthetics were not peripherals. On the contrary, he viewed them as an integral part of the ‘self’.This in turn will facilitate the recognition of beauty in all aspects of life
and pave the way for the final vision of Human Harmony.
Key to Tagore’s artistic vision was the idea of personality and harmony. As his
interaction with Einstein clearly shows, for Tagore, beauty could exist in individual
human perception. Thus impressionism appealed to Tagore’s individual
perception of reality.
Several of his paintings portrays his fascination for geometric shapes. He used these shapes as expressionist revelation of deep psychic pain.
Rabindranath Tagore collaborated with another great artist of his times- Nandlal Bose. He drew from Bose the representations of everyday details- the art, Bose was a master of.
Another very interesting part are Tagore’s handwritten poems, in which he would often doodle over, joining up the scrawls and edit markings to make shapes, figures and illustrations within the text.
(Photo courtesy – www.artcritique.wordpess.com, www.kochiread.blogspot.com and www.the-south-asian.com)