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Tagore's Paintings: Versification in Line

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About the Author Sovon Som, born in 1932 at Silchar, Assam, studied art under the tutelage of Nandalal Bose in Visva Bharati University, Santiniketan. He was professor of History of Art and Dean of Visual Arts at Rabindra Bharati University. He was the visiting professor at Havana University in Cuba and Comenius University in Slovakia in 1984 and 1987, respectively. Besides being an internationally acclaimed art critic, he was a painter, poet, essayist, curator, musicologist, scriptwriter, and the first critic to study Tagore’s paintings meticulously. His demise in 2010 has left a void in the realm of art.

Rabindranath Tagore, in the prefatory note in his Birmingham exhibition had commented: ‘My pictures are my versification in lines. If by any 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 an idea or representation of fact.’ Breaking away from his image as the philosopher-poet of Gitanjali, that permeated an aura of mysticism, an ambience of peace and sublime harmony, Tagore set forth on this adventurous journey in the wonderful domain of art at a time when both health and words were failing him. Painting was seen by him as the epilogue to his life, a means to recollect memories and refurbish certain images that haunted him. Tagore’s Paintings: Versification in Lines outlines the creative process behind Tagore’s experiments with ink and colour. What began as emendations and rhythmic linear traceries gradually took diagrammatic abstract forms, creating curves and loops or flowing in a jagged manner, and moving in search of recognisable bodies or towards figuration. Tagore’s unrestrained expression in lines played havoc in the complacent and stagnant world of Indian art and paved the way towards modernism. The images presented in this book have been selected to support the author’s fastidious research of Tagore’s paintings, and the captions added to them, complement his analyses.

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