May 19, 2013 | 01:58 PM (BD Time)
19 May, 2013 Sunday
The artworks of Rabindranath Tagore
M.Mizanur Rahman :
The lustrous myriad-minded genius of Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941) has its reflection in his century-old poetry and prose Bangla literature. There are fountains of shade and light along with the appropriate imageries and sublime metaphors at every nook and corner of his literary works. Above all those have covered mostly different traits of human character and their characteristics abound in pain and pleasure, sorrow and joy, disappointment and despair, and hopes and aspirations. He had his absolute willpower in the work of arts behind attaining laurels world- wide. Those are evident in his powerful Bengali words and rhymes used in poetry and prose writings seem to have been fraught with ingenious texture of vast rich experience of life and nature. Similarly his composed Bengali songs attuned with notes of his own creation are dulcet. He was an excellent lyricist and an innovator of Bengali musical notations. Nonetheless his art of painting during the last twenty years of his life ended by enriching cultural arena of Bengal profusely. As if the sun has just set leaving behind its glamorous but enviable shades and colors. The diction could be found when he expressed as saying...when negativity turned into the illusive incantation of positive factor of lines and colors...towards the painting of an artist one has to be enamored. When the shadow of an object before the light becomes the art in black and white, it has its relative form in the sketch of picture or portrait. This is said to be the creation of an artist in the art of painting. Here are the scratches of the manuscript of Tagore's poem where he said - the scratches in my manuscript cried like sinners for salvation-
Thou art a glimmer of dawn/on my life's shore,/a dew drop at the lips/of my thirsty autumn flower, /the secret of mine; /enriching the sky there's rainbow, /the crescent moon cradled in a / white cloud, /a secret whisper of paradise,/ my poet's vision stayed away/ from the days of my forgotten birth, /the word that is beyond utterance,/ a bond that leads to the freedom/ of a living light.
To this effect once Rabindranath wrote to Indira Devi (26th May, 1930): " An Apology is due from me for my intrusion into the world of pictures and thus offering a perfect instance to me saying that those who do not know that they know not are apt to be rash where angels are timidly careful. I, as an artist, can not claim any merit for my courage; for it is the unconscious courage of the unsophisticated, like that of one who walks in dream on a perilous path, who is saved only because he is blind to the risk.
The only training which I had from my young days was the training in rhythm in thought, the rhythm in sound. I had come to know that rhythm gives reality to that which is desultory, which is insignificant in itself. And therefore, when the scratches in my manuscript cried, like sinners, for salvation and assailed my eyes with the ugliness of their irrelevance, I often took more time in rescuing them into a merciful finality of rhythm than carrying on what was my obvious task. In the process of this salvage work I came to discover one fact that in the universe of forms there is a perpetual activity of natural selection in lines and only the fittest survives which has in itself the fitness of cadence and I felt that to solve the unemployment problem of the homeless heterogeneous into interrelated balance of fulfillment is creation itself.
My pictures are my versification in line. If by chance they are entitled to claim recognition, it must be primarily for some rhythmic significance of form which is ultimate and not for any interpretation of idea or representation of a fact.
(An introduction to art exhibition book-let of Tagore at the Birmingham City Art Gallery on 28th, May 1930.)
Even the scratches in the poem have been taken into the form of art of expression a lot by the poet. This appears to be a powerful means of expression. That's why the famous artist Jaminy Ray said, "I have every regard for the powerfulness of the art works of Rabindranath due to its rhymes where I find the symbol of a great sense of beauty...Once I had a discussion with him about art. It would not be out of place to describe here. He told me, "I have no education of art school, for that my art works do not take the complete shape." In reply I told him, "Even a student after studying for eleven years in the school remains ignorant while a boy would have attained knowledge without ever attending any school and that's what happened about you."
Every artist rides on imagination. Unlike any poet artist's imagination has no end in itself. S/he has to make his/her brush working according to imagination. It has its wide area to expand. In such case Rabindranath is one of the greatest poets of the world and his imagination ought to have been far reaching. In a letter to William Rothenstein Rabindranath wrote on 22nd February, 1929, "If I ever have an opportunity I should like to show you some pictures that I have done myself with the hope of once again being startled with your appreciation as in the case of Gitanjali" During this period perhaps he wrote to Nirmal Kumar Mahalnabish, "When I am not in a good mood I used to drawing pictures but my pictures are of lines and colours and not of any idea. For the idea of imagery of thoughtful words I have sketched a lot of pictures. Now I have every mental attraction for lines than that of words. Because lines go straight away to my heart through the eyes but not through the ears while words must be meaningful and lines need beauty. The thing of beauty enamors meaninglessly and it has no other factors except show business."
Rabindranath Tagore had a very favourable family conducive to his literary environ. Not only literary environ he had the opportunity to come in contact with the great artist like Abanindranath Tagore also. He delivered lecture in London Society in 1930 "... the modern art movement, following the line of oriental tradition, was started by Abanindranath. I watched his activities with an envious mood of self-diffidence being thoroughly convinced that my fate had refused passport across the strict boundaries of letters. But one thing which is common to all arts is the principle of rhythm which transforms inert materials into living creations. My instinct for it and my training in its use led me to know that lines and colors in art are no carriers of information; they seek their rhythmic incarnation in pictures. Their ultimate purpose is not to illustrate or to copy some outer fact or inner vision, but to evolve a harmonious wholeness which finds its passage through our eyesight into imagination. It neither questions our mind for meaning nor burdens it with unmeaningness, for it is, above all, meaning. Desultory lines obstruct the freedom of our vision with the inertia of their irrelevance. They do not move with the great march of all things. They have no justification to exist and therefore they rouse up against them their surroundings; they perpetually disturb peace. For the reason the scattered scratches and corrections in my manuscript cause me annoyance. They represent regrettable mischance, like a gaping foolish crowd stuck in a wrong place, undecided as to how and where to move on. But if the spirit of dance is inspired in heart of the crowd, the unrelated many would find a perfect unity and be relieved of its hesitation between to be or not to be. I try to make corrections dance, connect them in a rhythmic relationship and transform accumulation into adornment. This has been my unconscious training in drawing. I
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