Rabindranath Tagore and a glimpse into some of his paintings

“From our very childhood habits are formed and knowledge is imparted in such a manner that our life is weaned away from nature and our mind and the world are set in opposition from the beginning of our days. Thus the greatest of educations for which we came prepared is neglected, and we are made to lose our world to find a bagful of information instead. We rob the child of his earth to teach him geography, of language to teach him grammar” ~ Rabindranth Tagore

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Outdoor science class in Sriniketan, 1928

Rabindranath Tagore needs no introduction, and I will not attempt to give one. Neither will I go into the details of his works, as a great deal has already been researched and written on him in innumerable books and journals. What I will do here in my article, is to share some of his paintings. While his two nephews Abanindranath Tagore and Gaganendranath Tagore were master artists, Rabindranath Tagore, despite understanding his artistic limitations, also experimented with paintings in his later years. His experiments with images started around 1924-1928, with lazy doodles on Purabi manuscripts that comprised of crossed-out words and lines taking some unplanned shapes of texts and images joined together (forming imaginary animals and birds), solely based on intuitions and memories of objects that he had seen or read about. Tagore did not follow any particular school of art, and preferred to evolve his own style that involved use of imagination, uncertainty or serendipity, and was based on his inner vision, experiences of foreign visual cultures from his many trips abroad, and childhood memories. His paintings that show strong rhythmic lines and geometric planes tend to range from abstract, to landscapes, to portraits, and they depict various underlying emotions such as brooding melancholy, silence, fantasy, anger, irony, and deep romanticism. While certainly not matching up to his two artist nephews, Rabindranth Tagore in his own inimitable way has left behind priceless art works (2500 in total, which were done over a span of 14 years) that reveal an extremely personal and Expressionistic style, quite unlike his writings.

 

The first known photograph of Tagore, 1873
Rabindranath Tagore while studying in Brighton, 1878
Rabindranath Tagore with his wife Mrinalini devi just after their marriage, 1883
Rabindranath with his elder brother Jyotiridranath Tagore while composing a song
Rabindranath Tagore singing while his nephew Abanindranth Tagore plays the Esraj, 1892
Rabindranath Tagore teaching at Shantiniketan school

 

With Einstein, 1930
Tagore in December 1940, about a  year and a half before his death

 

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On a rather humorous note: Tagore’s name appeared as endorsements on some rather funny advertisements for different products. Some of these the poet did really endorse, while in many his name was used to increase sales. This particular advertisement claims that a certain internationally acclaimed Dr Umesh Chandra Roy has developed a treatment to cure madness seen in elderly people (70 years and above), which includes hysteria, sleeplessness, epilepsy (called mrigi in Bengali), and weak nerves, at a princely price of rupees 5 per bottle. Apparently Tagore had been drinking this medicine and enjoying its beneficial effects for many years. 

 

His Paintings

 

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Where his experiments with paintings started- doodles on Purabi manuscript, 1924
Coloured ink on paper, NGMA 1930
Coloured ink and watercolour on paper, Rabindra Bhavan , 1934-35
Coloured ink and poster colour on paper, 1929-30
Coloured ink and poster colour on paper, 1935, Rabindra Bhavan
Coloured ink on paper, 1937-38, NGMA
Poster colour and coloured ink on paper, 1938, Rabindra Bhavan
coloured ink on paper, 1937, Rabindra Bhavan
ink on paper, 1938, Rabindra Bhavan
coloured ink on paper, 1934, NGMA
coloured ink on paper, 1930-31, Rabindra Bhavan
coloured ink an watercolour on paper, 1936-37, Rabindra Bhavan
coloured ink on paper, 1929-30, Rabindra Bhavan
coloured ink and poster colour on paper, 1936, Rabindra Bhavan
Pastel on paper, 1936, Rabindra Bhavan
coloured ink on paper, 1930, Rabindra Bhavan
Pen and ink and pastel\ on paper, 1935, Rabindra Bhavan
Colored ink on paper, 1939, Rabindra Bhavan
Colored ink on paper, 1929-30, Rabindra Bhavan
Ink on paper, 1929, Rabindra Bhavan
Coloured ink and watercolour on paper, 1929-30, Rabindra bhavan
Coloured ink on paper, Rabindra Bhavan, 1936
Coloured ink and poster colour on paper, Rabindra Bhavan 1935-36
Coloured ink and poster color on paper, 1930-31, Rabindra Bhavan
Colored ink on paper, 1930-31, Rabindra Bhavan
Poster colour and coloured ink on paper, 1932, Rabindra Bhavan
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coloured ink and poster colour on paper, 1930-31, Rabindra Bhavan

 

Coloured ink, watercolour and oil colour on paper, 1932, Rabindra Bhavan
Coloured ink and poster color on paper, Rabindra Bhavan , 1937
Colored ink on paper, 1929-30, Rabindra Bhavan
coloured ink on paper, 1932-33, Rabindra Bhavan
pen and ink on paper, 1929, NGMA

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