In distant Slovenia, Tagore's art is remembered
The anniversary of the passing away of Indian Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore will be remembered in Slovenia from Aug 7, his death anniversary, to Sep 4, with a unique exhibition of prints of selected paintings by Tagore and his contemporaries -- provided by the National Gallery of Modern Art in New Delhi.
The exhibition displays representative works of Rabindranath, Abanindranath and Gaganendranath Tagore, along with those of Abdur Rahman Chughtai, Jamini Roy and Amrita Sher-Gil.
The uniquely curated exhibition will be on display at the house of culture in the world heritage village of Smartno in the municipality of Goriska Brda on the western border of Slovenia with Italy, according to a statement issued by the Indian embassy in Slovenia.
The village of Medana in the municipality of Goriska Brda was the natal home of poet and jurist Alojz Gradnik, who was the most prominent translator of Tagore's works into the Slovenian language from 1917 onwards.
Gradnik's translation of "Gitanjali" into Slovenian was published from Ljubljana in 1924. The memory of Gradnik is kept alive by the international festival of poetry and wine at Medana every August and by the "Gradnik evenings" in November each year.
This is the first time that the memory of Tagore is being so honoured in the birthplace of his major Slovenian translator after Tagore visited Yugoslavia in 1926. Slovenia, a country of two million people in Central Europe, is one of the breakaway countries of the original Yugoslavia.
By 1926, the Indian Nobel laureate's works, translated by Gradnik and others, had generated an unprecedented response in Slovenia. Slovenian identification with Tagore and his people derived from a perceived common goal of striving for political and cultural independence.
"One of Tagore's aphoristic poems has been carved into a signpost in the mountains above the town of Polhov Gradec. Maribor city has installed a bust of Tagore in a central park," said Sarvajit Chakravarti, the Indian ambassador to Slovenia, and the brain behind the exhibition.
The Slovenian ministry of education, science and sports hosted the first commemorative concert of Rabindra Sangeet in Ljubljana on Tagore's birth anniversary May 7 this year. The municipality of Maribor also hosted an exhibition of prints of paintings by the three Tagores.
Following the widespread influence of Indian spiritual ideas in the West, British art teacher Ernest Binfield Havell attempted to reform the teaching methods at the Calcutta School of Art by encouraging students to imitate Mughal miniatures. Havell was supported by Abanindranath Tagore, a nephew of Rabindranath Tagore. Abanindranath painted a number of works influenced by Mughal art, a style that he and Havell believed to be expressive of India's distinct spiritual qualities, as opposed to the "materialism" of the West.
The mantle of the Bengal school was taken up by Santiniketan, a university focused on the preservation and uplift of Indian culture, values and heritage, which Rabindranath Tagore established. It included the art school Kala Bhavan, founded in 1920-21.
(Posted on 07-08-2014)