(Last Updated on : 09-05-2014)
Rabindranath Tagore as a painter made a major contribution to the evolution of Indian art by opening the 'Kala Bhavan' which proved to be a decisive land mark in the history. He was born in Jorasanko on 7th May 1861. His early life was spent in an atmosphere of religion and arts, principally literature, music and painting. He learnt drawing in his childhood and was attracted to the sketches drawn by his elder brother Jyotirindranath Tagore. In 1917 he founded the innovative Viswa Bharati University in the rural settings of Shantiniketan
. He quietly opened the art wing of his university called 'Kala Bhavan' after the Jallianwalabagh Bagh massacre.
He had invited like-minded painters like Nandalal Bose to run Kala Bhavan with a free hand thereby encouraging the evolution of an original vision, reflecting the intuition and expression of the students. His famous world appearance as painter in France in the year 1930 was not unexpected. In 1926 Tagore had long discussions on his art with Romain Rolland. Romain Rolland who was himself a Nobel laureate wrote in his book 'Inde-journal', on 3rd July, 1926 " other day Tagore was discussing on his application of colour in paintings. He likes very little red colour, the dominance of red colour in Italian village did not attract him. His love goes violet and blue and he has more liking for green." Tagore had discussions about art with another Nobel Laureate, French poet Saint John Perse also.
Rabindranath had never any formal training in art. He transformed his lack of formal training of art into an advantage and opened new horizons as far as the use of line and colours are concerned. He was prolific in his paintings and sketches and produced over 2500 of these within a decade.
Over 1500 of them are conserved in Viswa-Bharati, Shantiniketan
. It is evident that in his search of newer form of expression in line and colour he tried to express something different from what he did in his poetry and songs. He seemed to explore darkness and mystery in his drawings.
His self portraits are true representation of style. According to the scholars his self-portraits reflect a deeper psychological need - that of a creative person always in search of self. His self portrait stands as an art of sheer excellence. He was immensely attracted to primitive art. Distortion of form and the aberrant use of colour characterized his paintings. Theories of colour, mysticism and contemporary speculations are likely to have interested him and this has found expressions in his paintings. Silence is the chief theme in his paintings. Colour, season and emotion all gain a remarkable dimension in Tagore's paintings. His paintings had a strange surrealism and bizarre emotions.
In spring 1930, when on a tour to France, Tagore was advised, by some art critics of local newspapers who saw his paintings, to hold an exhibition in Paris. He held the first public and international exhibition of his paintings in Paris in May 1930, at the Gallerie Pigalle. The exhibition was later held in different countries in Europe in the same year. India and his home town Calcutta hosted an exhibition only in 1931, a year later of Paris exhibition. Tagore's paintings and sketches fascinated young German students. In Tagore's own words, "The world speaks to me in colours, my soul answers in music". Tagore died on August 7, 1941. Tagore's contribution to the art of India remains one of the most important.