Portrait of an Artist

At a slideshow held in the city,psychoanalyst and writer Sudhir Kakar looked at Tagore’s paintings and attempted to explain the mind of a genius

Written by Parul | Published:May 2, 2013 2:25 am

At a slideshow held in the city,psychoanalyst and writer Sudhir Kakar looked at Tagore’s paintings and attempted to explain the mind of a genius

The mind has a myriad intricacies and psychoanalyst and writer Sudhir Kakar attempted to explain the workings of one of the greatest minds of Indian art and culture,Rabindranath Tagore,by studying his artwork. His lecture and slideshow on the subject,titled “The Creative Melancholy” was held in the

city recently.

“I am neither a scholar nor an authority on art,but here I am trying to capture a glimpse of the mysterious impressions that Tagore’s paintings and landscapes left on me. The resonances in my own psyche and the forms that these works have created are what I’ll focus on,and I promise to be hopelessly subjective,” said Kakar at the event organised by the Chandigarh Lalit Kala Akademi.

He began with Tagore’s landscapes of the Bengal countryside in the late ’20s,with the river bringing in a contemplative flow on the canvas. “In his landscapes,you see that Tagore is content with the harmony of duality. I will not dispute the presence of spirituality in his landscapes,but it’s less in its execution. There is another source,that of the unconscious and inner theatre and we need to explore that,” spoke Kakar.

The writer also brushed upon the artist’s biography — his childhood in a wealthy and creatively rich family,the loss of his mother at an early age,the absence of his father,who was mostly travelling,the loneliness,lack of company and his restricted life. “The longing for freedom is an aspect you see in his landscapes,portraits and self-portraits. His paintings are like a rhythm in form and there is a narrative content in the portraits,” said Kakar. He then moved on to Tagore’s self-portraits and spoke about the dualities that coexisted in his works — East-West,man-woman,agony-ecstasy,and life-death among others. “Every artist is androgynous and his self-portraits are a harmony of the masculine and feminine,” he said.

Kakar highlighted how Tagore’s close relationship with Kadambari Devi,the wife of his older brother,had brought out many unknown aspects in him. “Kadambari came as a bride at the age of nine and she and Tagore grew up together. She was his playmate,companion,creative critic,friend and anchor. Her suicide,four months after Tagore’s marriage,left him broken and depressed,” said Kakar,pointing to portraits that reflected melancholy with the use of dark colours and shadows. “The grief,guilt and loneliness at the loss of Kadambari and also maybe his mother,the two most important women in his life,reflected in his work,” he explained.

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