Rabindranath Tagore was primarily known as a writer, poet, playwright, philosopher and aesthetician, founder of a unique educational institution, Visva- Bharati, music composer and choreographer. Tagore’s emergence as a painter began in 1928 when he was 67 years old. Beginning with scratchings and erasures on the pages of his manuscripts during the mid-20s of the 20th Century, he slowly moved towards drawing and painting independent images. Between 1928 and 1940, Rabindranath painted more than 2000 images. He never, gave any title to his paintings however, in the collection of the NGMA they have been titled by the institution. Fed by memories and the subconscious, Rabindranath’s art was spontaneous and dramatic. His images did not represent the phenomenal world but an interior reality. Rabindranath veered towards abstraction in his figuration. Expressionism in European art and the primitive art of ancient cultures inspired him. Fantasy, wild imagination and an innate feel for the absurd gave a distinctive character to his visual language.
This is one the most iconic head studies of a veiled woman adopting Rabindranath’s favourite oval form. The painting has been done in sepia ink and is lightly textured. The face has a dreamy quality, an elusive beauty with large understanding eyes. There is a lyricism in the covered head of the woman. Her sensitive expression echoes the poet’s own empathy with nature and humanity. The use of sepia ink evokes a sense of nostalgia, as if hers is a face seen in some evanescent dream.