Poet laureate Rabindranath Tagore started writing poetry and plays at 13, and short stories and novels while still in his teens. Yet, the artist in him bloomed much later, when he was well into his 60s. His tryst with sketches and art began when he started doodling on his manuscripts.
Now, 72 years after his death, a hundred of his paintings will be showcased at the National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA), in the first major exhibition of his artworks in the city, since 1941.“Tagore painted passionately for two decades. His works comprise paintings of animals, landscapes and nature, dramatic scenes, faces and characters,” says Pheroza Godrej, chairman advisory committee, Ministry Of Culture, NGMA.
Tagore’s paintings were exhibited in Europe, Berlin, Paris, New York and several other parts of the world to mark the Noble Laureate’s 150th birth anniversary in 2011. “All the paintings displayed in this exhibition are from various institutions such as the Viswa Bharati University, Rabindra Bhavan and Kala Bhavan which keep Tagore’s artistic legacy alive,” explains Godrej.
Most of Tagore’s paintings are untitled, perhaps a deliberate attempt by him to allow the viewer the right to bestow them with names and to understand the creativity of each of his works.
“Tagore did nearly 3,000 paintings. He painted self-portraits as well as portraits of others. He painted landscapes without people, which reminded him of his childhood,” says Godrej.
Most of the great man’s paintings have earthy tones, making them pristine and appear calm and serene to the viewer. “His philosophy of life was crystalised through his art,” says Godrej.