Prominent Indian Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore once said, “death is not extinguishing the light; it is only putting out the lamp because the dawn has come,” not knowing that hundreds of years after his death, his name would still be brightly shining, and his existence would be commemorated as the person who brought a cultural dawn to Indian literature. The Indian Embassy in Cairo celebrated on Saturday the inauguration of its latest exhibition, Rabindranath Tagore: Rhythm in Colours, in the attendance of several Egyptian cultural figures.
The exhibition is part of the third annual cultural festival commemorating the famous Indian poet, painter, writer, and philosopher. This year’s round was set for 3-7 May, celebrating Tagore’s 157th birth anniversary.
The exhibition displays a number of portraits Tagore painted in his life, as well as sculptures of him.
“This is a very unique experience because Tagore is always acclaimed as a poet and a philosopher. His paintings came late in his life; yet we featured this to show the genius of his paintings which bring out the vivid nature of the landscape he lived among,” Indian Ambassador to Egypt Sanjay Bhattacharyya told Daily News Egypt.
“There’s a great and growing interest about Tagore and his contributions, not only to literature but also to philosophy and other areas. We find this as an interesting starting point for greater academic exchanges, translations, and other forms of cooperative work between the two countries,” he added
Taking place in the Ahmed Shawki Museum in Giza, which was originally the home of its namesake, the exhibition also celebrated the friendship Tagore shared with the famous Egyptian poet.
“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 to the ministry of culture for making this visit happen,” Bhattacharyya said in his speech at the event.
“In celebrating the cultural icons of India and Egypt, we bring together responsibilities for closer engagement, better cooperation, and better understanding between the two sides. This festival, along with India By The Nile, provide a spectrum of cultural activities and developments that are happening in India and we would like to share with our Egyptian friends,” Bhattacharyya added.
The opening witnessed a presentation by Amrit Sen, a professor and head of the department of English at Visva-Bharati University, in which he discussed Tagore’s paintings and his portrait styles, especially when it comes to colours.
Sen said that Tagore started painting at the late age of 60.
“At that time, Tagore started to paint because painting is a universal language and can reach everyone without the need to be translated,” he explained.
Spurred by a spirit of inventiveness, Tagore’s paintings merged the familiar with the unknown. Landscapes are the smallest output of Tagore’s art. After he developed his love for painting, Tagore described the visible world around him “as a vast procession of forms,” Sen said.
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. 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. His faces speak of various moods: mysterious, brooding, dramatic, and romantic; of wonderment, fear, and melancholia.