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Tagore's short stories come alive on canvas

Friday May 06, 2011 03:27:12 PM, Madhusree Chatterjee, IANS

Tota Kahini (Tale of Parrots) about children in scholastic jails come alive in digital print on archival paper.

(Photo: IANS)

New Delhi: Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore's short stories stand out for their rich visual imagery and emotional colours. Now, a group of nine senior Kolkata-based artists have brought these to the canvas at an exposition here.The showcase, "Tales from Tagore", dwells on the characters, messages and sharp turns of physical and emotional realities inherent in Tagore's short stories, said Vikram Bachhawat, auctioneer and director of Aakriti Art Gallery.

The gallery is presenting the exhibition from May 9-31, coinciding with the 150th birth anniversary of Tagore.

"It is not surprising that Tagore's profound eclectics have been so fascinating to creative artists. I have always wanted to see how his dramatic short stories could be translated on canvas. The idea of an exhibition themed on his stories seemed novel," Bacchawat told IANS on phone from Kolkata.

"The nine artists have tried to interpret the poet's rich oeuvre through their experience of reading Rabindranath and the bond that they share with the characters."

The artists are Abhijit Gupta, Aditya Basak, Chandra Bhattacharjee, Chhatrapati Dutta, Prabhat Basu, Probir Gupta, Rajesh Deb, Sekhar Roy and Sourav Jana.

In Aditya Basak's "Kshudito Pashan (The Hungry Stones)-I, II, III", the essence of the supernatural tale is captured in zen-like layers of colours like creamy beige, green, silver grey-blues, white and rich humid browns.

The colours appear to float in darkness and the figures - like ghosts - float on the void of colours to convey agony and despair in the tale Tagore had spun during a visit to Gujarat.

Basak uses an array of mediums like stone, sand, wood, dust and acrylic to carry forward his narrative.

Artist Chhatrapati Dutta addresses Tagore's references to patriarchy, subjugation and gender in his digitally modified montage of images, "Superimposed Realities".

"I have tried to understand and explore Tagore's short stories 'Shompotti Shomorpon' and 'Tyag' in my works for this show. I was looking for two expositions that would have an intuitive connect. I saw an airless darkness in the heart of both...that can go by labels like superstition, avarice, bigotry, among so many other blinding compulsions," artist Chandra Bhattacharya told IANS on phone.

She uses the dual-moon and the visage of a boy-prince rising out of darkness in acrylic to convey the sense of emptiness that was the essence of several short stories by the bard of Bengal.

In Abhijit Gupta's canvas "Tota Kahini-Redux", one of Tagore's timeless short stories, which was a comment on the incarceration of children in strict regimens of expectations and school books, comes alive in a series of digital bird parrot cages that line the surface of his paper.

Artist Sekhar Roy walks a comfortable zone of nature in "Ek Ratri" and "Balai'. "Of late, I have been reading Tagore a lot… and his familiar forms, representing a cove, tree, dew drops or the silence in 'Ekratri' are simplified into archetypal symbols in his acrylic compositions.

Tagore's spooky tale, "Monihara", about a dead jute miller and his wife, whose spirit returns to collect her jewellery box, comes across as an eerie apparition in blue, red and black interwoven strands on canvas. He uses acrylic, earth colour, ink, oil pastel and rice paper on canvas to create a surreal picturescape of water and ghostly forms.







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