This Thursday was different from my usual ones, because I got to see an entirely new perspective on Tagore. I happened to visit an exhibition at Lalit Kala Akademi, Chennai, organised by the InKo Centre showcasing the works of seven major artists from Korea as a tribute to Rabindranath Tagore on the year of his 150th birth anniversary. Now what exactly is the connection between Tagore and Korea? The answer is this poem:
The lamp of the east
In the golden age of Asia
Korea was one of its lamp-bearers
And that lamp is waiting to be lighted once again
For the illumination in the east
( The Lamp of the East, Rabindranath Tagore, 1929)
This is a poem that apparently not only finds its place in Korean school textbooks today, but also served as an inspiration to the Korean people when they were under Japanese occupation. Another testament to the power of Tagore's words and their long-standing influence.
I'm an absolute ignoramus as far as paintings are concerned, and the most in-depth, knowledgeable and deep thing I can say about the exhibition is that it was beautiful. I wouldn't have gone for it if not for the Tagore connection but I'm glad I dropped by. There weren't many obvious (to me) connections to Tagore's poetry in the paintings, but for the fact that I'm pretty sure Tagore would have been delighted by the idea of two countries joining hands through art and through him.
There were some lovely paintings of Cactuses, gorgeous depictions of nature in Korea, some interesting paintings of Tagore, Gandhi and Mother Teresa and my personal favourite (probably because it was in- your-face and easy to understand) - the beautiful video of a white Korean 'Moon Jar'. This video captured the four seasons, depicting rather gorgeously the blossoming of flowers, the change in climate with petals getting drenched in rain, winter setting in with snow covering the blossoms and finally autumn and the shedding of petals.
The exhibition is on till the 13th of this month and if you're interested in either art or Tagore or both, I definitely recommend you check it out if you are in the city. To me, whose knowledge of art is pretty abysmal, this exhibition was a chance to understand what Gurudev means to so many people in so many countries and how relevant people find him to be even today.
Photos from: The Hindu