Rabindranath Tagore’s paintings are on exhibition in Egypt

Paintings of Rabindranath Tagore were displayed in an exhibition here to commemorate the 157th birth anniversary of the Nobel laureate. The exhibition titled ‘Rabindranath Tagore: Rhythm in Colours’ was inaugurated by India’s Ambassador to Egypt Sanjay Bhattacharyya yesterday at Ahmed Shawki museum in Giza – originally the house of famous poet Ahmed Shawki.

Inaugurating the festival, Bhattacharyya spoke about the friendship between Tagore and Egyptian poet Shawki. “Tagore’s best friend was the Prince of Arab Poets Ahmed Shawki. Today, Tagore is coming back to his friend’s house once again. Thanks for the ministry of culture for making this visit happen,” the ambassador said.

The painting exhibition is part of the Tagore Festival which runs from May 3 to 7 to commemorate the birth anniversary of Tagore, who penned India’s national anthem. Amrit Sen, professor and head of the department of English at Visva-Bharati University in Santiniketan, West Bengal, held a presentation about Tagore’s “rhythm of colours”.

Tagore, who began painting much later in his life when he was into his 60s, had made more than 3,000 paintings and drawings in the last 17 years of his life. He did not have a formal training in art but created a variety of images. Sen said that initially, Tagore started to paint as painting is a universal language and can reach everyone without the need to be translated.

After he developed his love for painting, Tagore described the visible world around him “as a vast procession of forms.” Most of the landscapes he painted showed nature bathed in the evening light, skies and forms coagulating into ominous silhouettes. His landscapes invoke mystery and a sense of disquiet and silence.

Tagore did not name his paintings, but by leaving them untitled he freed them from the limits of literary imagination, Sen said. “He wished his viewers to read the paintings in their own light and admire them in individual ways. His painted faces speak of vast human experience and intrinsic human emotion,” Sen said. The Tagore Festival is organised by the Maulana Azad Centre for Indian Culture (MACIC), the cultural wing of the Indian Embassy in Cairo.

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