Tagore’s art school set to turn 100

Hindustan Times (Delhi) - - HTNATION - Snigdhendu Bhat­tacharya Snigdhendu.bhat­tacharya@htlive.com

KOLKATA: Kala Bha­van, the fine arts school of Vis­vaBharati univer­sity founded by Rabindranath Tagore, is set to turn 100. The in­sti­tute will start its year-long centenary cel­e­bra­tions with an art walk and ex­hi­bi­tion on November 29.

“The centenary cel­e­bra­tion will see the sec­ond edi­tion of In­ter­na­tional Kala Mela (art fair), or­gan­ised by the New Delhi-based Lalit Kala Academy, taking place in San­tinike­tan in Fe­bru­ary 2019. Be­sides, an ex­hi­bi­tion of iconic works of the San­tinike­tan school of art will be held at New Delhi’s Na­tional Gallery of Mod­ern Art (NGMA) from the col­lec­tions of Kala Bha­van and NGMA in the sec­ond half of 2019,” said Goutam Das, prin­ci­pal of Kala Bha­van. A se­ries of na­tional and in­ter­na­tional work­shops will be held at the univer­sity town of San­tinike­tan through 2019.

Kala Bha­van is part of Visva-bharati, the cen­tral univer­sity that has the Prime Min­is­ter as the chan­cel­lor. Al­though art his­to­ri­ans have not been able to de­ter­mine the ex­act date of Kala Bha­van’s foun­da­tion for want of au­thor­i­ta­tive doc­u­men­tary ev­i­dence, 1919 is con­sid­ered the year when the fine arts school started its jour­ney.

Kala Bha­van stal­warts like Nan­dalal Bose, Asit Ku­mar Hal­dar and Suren­dranath Kar as teach­ers dur­ing its early years and later the likes of Jo­gen Chowd­hury. It pro­duced stu­dents of the stature of Ben­ode Be­hari Mukherjee, Ramkinkar Baij and K G Subra­manyan.

The school is cred­ited with in­tro­duc­ing in In­dia an all-in­clu­sive vis­ual cul­ture, com­bin­ing var­i­ous forms of fine arts with crafts and blend­ing re­al­ism with ab­strac­tion.

“Kala Bha­van’s in­flu­ence on In­dia’s mod­ern vis­ual art scene was more than that of the Ben­gal school of the early 20th cen­tury,” said R Siva Ku­mar, for­mer prin­ci­pal of Kala Bha­van.

“San­tinike­tan turned to the im­me­di­ate life around the artist – the space and the peo­ple around,” said Ku­mar now a vis­it­ing pro­fes­sor at Univer­sity of Car­leton in Canada.

The school also de­vel­oped its own ar­chi­tec­tural style. Stu­dents were en­cour­aged to ex­plore na­ture and col­lab­o­rate with lo­cal crafts­men.

The school de­parted from the tra­di­tion of teach­ing stu­dents to be spe­cial­ists and in­stead taught var­i­ous forms to each in­di­vid­ual – paint­ing, sculp­ture, de­sign­ing, ar­chi­tec­ture, mu­rals and crafts - in a bid to de­velop ver­sa­til­ity.

Ratan Pa­ri­moo, who headed the depart­ment of art his­tory and aes­thet­ics at M S Univer­sity, Bar­oda said:“the San­tinike­tan school is dis­ti­inct. The other ma­jor schools in the colo­nial megac­i­ties were more in­flu­enced by Euro­pean mod­ern art. San­tinike­tan, while in­sti­tu­tion­al­is­ing In­dia’s tra­di­tional roots, as­sim­i­lated the arts of dif­fer­ent parts of the world.”


1919 is con­sid­ered the year when Kala Bha­van, the fine arts school of Visva­bharati Univer­sity, started its jour­ney.

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