Santiniketan: In 2019, Kala Bhavana, the fine arts school of Rabindranath Tagore will turn 100. The celebration for centenary year will commence on November 29, Thursday by organising a Art Walk (Centenary procession) from Kala Bhavana campus. The walk will start from 4:30 PM in the afternoon.
On this occasion, Bipula Taranga (Waves Of Life) will be performed on November 30 as a part of the inaugural programme. The students of Kala Bhavana will present the piece which is choreographed by Sudipta Kundu at 5 PM.
Kala Bhavana is known as a distinguished centre for Visual Art practice and research in India. This institute which gave shape to the culture specific modernism initiated by Rabindranath Tagore and carried forward by the commitment and wisdom of Nandalal Bose, Benodebehari Mukhopadhyay, Ramkinkar Baij and their contemporaries, has richly contributed in giving a valid direction to individual art activity in contemporary social space.
More recently several eminent artists and scholars attached to Kala Bhavana have been keeping the tradition alive by their personal visual experience, fresh exposure and openness for experiment.
Though the exact date of establishment could not get specified by the art historians. Upon its establishment in 1919, Tagore invited noted painter Nandalal Bose, and disciple of Abanindranath Tagore, the founder of Bengal school of art movement, to become first principal of the institution. Nandalal Bose took charge of Kala Bhavana in 1922 and is considered to be the man who shaped the Institute.
In the coming years stalwarts like Benode Behari Mukherjee and Ramkinkar Baij became associated with college, and in time gave a new direction not just to the institution but also to the modern Indian painting.
The college also has an art gallery ‘Nandan’, exhibiting sculptures, frescoes and murals and a library of art books. In 2011, to mark the 150th birth anniversary of Rabindranath Tagore, Rabindra Chitravali was released, the four-volume set covered masters’ painting oeuvre consisting of 1,600 paintings, from Rabindra Bhavan (another institution of the university) and Kala Bhavan collection, along with 200 paintings from other institutions across India.
Kala Bhavana 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.
But Nandan Mela, the art fair, organized by Kala Bhavana in its campus, on 1st and 2nd December every year before the birthday of Nandalal Bose, to commemorate his birth anniversary. The master-artist believed that a holistic structure to the practice and teaching of art was necessary for a healthy society, and he endeavored to bridge the gap between the fine arts and the living traditions.
He proposed a revival of indigenous art languages for a newly independent India, and for sharing our practices with the public. In his book ‘Vision and Creation’ he emphasized on the importance of having an annual art fair for the community people. Way back in 1973, Nandan Mela was first conceived as an occasion to raise funds for student’s welfare. The entire proceedings from the mela (fair) go to the Kala Bhavana Students’ Aid Fund.
“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 will take place in the centenary celebration. 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.
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.