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Gaganendranath Tagore

Gaganendranath Tagore, born on (September 18, 1867--1938) was an Indian painter and cartoonist of the Bengal school. He was also well known as an actor. He was born at Jorasanko. Along with his brother Abanindranath Tagore, he was counted as one of the earliest modern artists in India.

His nephew, Rabindranath Tagore, was also an artist.

Gaganendranath is regarded as one of the "foremost exponents of a superbly creative phase in Indian art". Early in his life Gaganendranath came under the influence of the Japanese artist Yokoyama Taikan. He also acquired proficiency in European water colour and was perhaps the first Indian artist to experiment with French style of painting.

Gaganendranath was also inspired by the experimentalist art of modern Europe and was drawn towards geometric composition in his paintings. He also came under the influence of experimentalist art prevalent in Europe at that time and was allured towards geometric compositions.

This was the essence of cubism which sought to define life in terms of patterns which lie underneath the visual appearance. Gaganendranath was also one of the most famous Indian cartoonists of his time. His imagination was fired by anything Indian or Oriental, probably more so, because of his assertive nationalism. He was, like the other Tagores, also versatile in his artistic interests, and involved himself in theatre, reading and photography. His interest in photography may have got him interested in the mysterious play of light and shade and patterns.

Commenting on Gaganendranath's art, Rabindranath Tagore wrote in 1938: "What profoundly attracted me was the uniqueness of his creation, a lively curiosity in his constant experiments, and some mysterious depth in their imaginative value. Closely surrounded by the atmosphere of a new art movement ... he sought out his own untrodden path of adventure, attempted marvellous experiments in colouring and made fantastic trials in the magic of light and shade." 

The largest number of paintings of Gaganendranath now forms part of Rabindra Bharati Society's collection at Jorasanko, Calcutta. . In 1907, he founded the Indian Society of Oriental Art along with his brother Abanindranath Tagore.

Gaganendra revivified the society periodically holding lectures on art, publishing an art journal edited by OC Ganguli, and arranging exhibitions on Oriental art. The first such exhibition was held in December 1919 at the government house, Calcutta. His important works from 1910-1921 were the sketches of the Himalayas, the life of CHAITANYA through art in chronological sequence and the wonderful drawings depicting the Indian life. His works were published in the following three volumes: Abadhut Lok (1915), Birup Bastra (1917) and Naya Hullod (1921). Art critics opined that these expressive works of Gaganendra were 'unique in their execution and originality'. The life style of the rich and the nobility found expression in these paintings.

There came a change in the life of Gaganendra as an artist after 1920 when he assimilated various forms of French art. He also tried to admixture the three dimensional French and German styles. He did never blindly imitate the western art style; his works were rather closer to the College initiated by the French and the German artists. His main contribution consisted in fruitful exposure of light and shade. An important feature of many of his paintings was their excellent brightness and gorgeousness of colours. The introduction of geometric figures featured in the second stage of his trials with various methods. Towards 1930 there was a clear indication in his paintings of the expression of feelings symbolic of death and supernatural objects.

Gaganendranath, the initiator of using brash and ink in the field of modern painting, was not only a painter; his originality in designing furniture in the national tradition and the inner decoration of the house cannot be ignored. He, imbued by the SWADESHI MOVEMENT of the early 20th century, discarded the luxurious western flower vases and Victorian furniture from the paternal Jorashako house accumulated during three generations from the time of Prince DWARKANATH TAGORE. He contributed greatly to the re-introduction of homemade articrafts and endeavoured to make the cottage industry of Bengal popular. In 1916 he performed the responsibilities as one of the secretaries of the Bengal Home Industries Association, established through the patronage of LORD CARMICHAEL, the then governor of Bengal. 

Gaganendranath Tagore died in 1938.

Artwork for Sale

Darjeeling, 1920s
by Gaganendranath Tagore


12 X 9 inches