Master of the Line: Art and Aesthetics of Rabindranath Tagore
Syed Manzoorul lslam
Abstract: Rabindranath Tagore emerged as an artist quite late in his life—in the late 1920s—but once he began to seriously pursue his new passion, he produced an astounding number of drawings, paintings and etchings that testify to his greatness as an artist, and his standing as a precursor of modern Indian art. Yet, Tagore did not offer any theory of art, neither did he write extensively on his own art beyond making occasional comments on his style and his satisfying pursuit of art. Still, a careful study of his writings on art does reveal a theoretical underpinning that appears predominantly romantic – with its emphasis on sublimity, beauty, truth, simplicity and universality. His vision of art however, accommodates his constantly evolving perceptions of art, and allows him, at times, to deviate from an earlier view or search for separate nuances within art practices of his time. A close look at Tagore’s art reveals that many of its defining characteristics lie outside the ideas that he propagates in his writings and lectures on art. The paper will examine these differences and try to understand how his art and aesthetics make a fine balance between tradition and innovation, while being sensitive to romantic aspirations and modernistic sensibilities.
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Published in Fall 2010-11