Monday, December 24, 2012

Remembering Veterans - Poems & Painting


By Bhaskar Sen


Reminiscing veteran painters’ art of combining poetry with painting, this is one genre that has yet to be wholesomely explored…

As I opened my mailbox today after a long interval, my attention was immediately drawn to Rashmi Pitre's ‘Painting with Poetry'! The works are an embodiment of different colourful hues of the artist's mind; so much so that they transfer kind of strong positive vibes to the beholders. The poems written on the body of each work are illustrative of the inner whispers of the compositions.

Before going into further detail, let us remember our great poet Rabindranath Tagore, who pioneered this unique pursuit of Painting with Poems. It was his genius that worked to convert his poems into pieces of artwork as the lines with which he used to delete/modify a letter, a word, a sentence or part of a stanza used to create interesting patterns and designs , whether figurative or abstract with all their unique nuances. In fact, this branch of Tagore's works resembles the thoughts and philosophy of another great artist Henri Matisse. As long ago as 1908 Matisse wrote, 'A work of art implies harmony of everything together: every superfluous detail will occupy, in the mind of the spectator, the space of some other detail, which is essential'.

Couple Embracing, Matisse’s illustration with Ronsard’s words. This work depicts how the collaboration 
of art and poetry drives both the artist’s and poet’s points of view to a higher, deeper level.

While viewing the works on the subject Paintings with Poetry, it therefore becomes necessary to cross-examine this 'essential' tag. Once one excels and justifies the rider, the work becomes an object of interest and awe. The incidence of Gulzar Saab's getting riveted in front of a painting for 8 minutes undisturbed and then reminiscing how he wrote a poem on the subject in the past, therefore speaks volume of the fact that poems can become an integral part of the painting and the combination has the great potential to create a sense of joy and romantic assumption.

I remember poet Pritish Nandy some decades back also experimented with the subject and published a book in which his poems had illustrations nearly expressing the inner thoughts of his works, though theoretically the effort is a little different from that of the present artist.

Conte & ink on paper. Pritish Nandy collaboration with Manjit Bawa on poetry and painting

Can we look back and visit prehistoric period some 40,000 years back in Europe? Some theories hold that the cave paintings might have been a way of communicating between one another! Alas! Scripts then were yet to be discovered. And when scripts were discovered, as the ancient men also used to engrave the scripts alongside pictures to express their mind, it was almost what we are doing now with poems and paintings. Is not that interesting?

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