Millennium Post

On 158th birth anniversary: Rare oil paintings by Tagore, contemporaries to be displayed by RBU

Kolkata: Art lovers in the city for the first time will get the opportunity to witness a number of oil paintings by eminent painters including Rabindranath Tagore himself with the Rabindra Bharati Museum (RBM) putting on display these artworks at the Jorasanko campus of Rabindra Bharati University (RBU) on the occasion of the 158th birth anniversary of the legend which falls on May 9.

"There are 72 oil paintings by Tagore's contemporaries in our collection. Some larger paintings are already on display at the Western Art Gallery of the Museum but 53 of them, mostly smaller in size, were kept in the air-conditioned museum strong room away from public view for shortage of space. All these will be unveiled in a visible storage space that has been created in the campus," said Baisakhi Mitra, curator-in-charge of RBM. Bulk of this collection was gifted by Maharaja Prabirendra Mohan Tagore and Kumar Purnendu Nath Tagore of Pathuriaghata. The conditions of the paintings deteriorated over time due to natural processes and the effects of pollution in the heart of Kolkata.

The National Research Laboratory For Conservation of Cultural Property, Lucknow, gave the oil paintings a fresh lease of life with the funds of the university itself. However, even after the restoration work carried out in two phases that ended in July 2013, the paintings again found its place in the strong room due to paucity of display space. "A grant from the Union Ministry of Culture helped us in setting up a visible storage space in which 53 of the remaining oil paintings could be displayed for art connoisseurs across the world," said RBU Vice-Chancellor Sabyasachi Basu Ray Chaudhury.

The most important painting that will be displayed is the one titled "Three Witches from Macbeth" done by Tagore himself who began painting it when he was in his 60s. Tagore had produced around 3,000 drawings and paintings and was the first Indian artist to exhibit his works across Europe, Russia and the US in 1930. His painting style was very individualistic, characterised by simple bold forms and rhythmic quality and later inspired several modern artists.

An oil painting by Hitendranath Tagore, the eldest son of Hemendranath, Debendranath's third son, "Portrait of Maharshi Debendranath Tagore" done by Sashi Kumar Hesh, "Composition — Omar Khyam/Arabian Nights" by Asit Halder, "Family" by Ramkinkar Beij are among the noted paintings that will be on display. The visual storage titled "Abanindranath Tagore — Visual Storage" will also showcase works by eminent painters who were contemporary of Tagore including Nirode Majumdar, Sukhomoy Mitra, Satyen Ghosal, Santosh Arora and a few unknown artists too.

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