Known to generations of Indians as Gurudev (Master or Teacher), Tagore left an indelible imprint on his era. His multiple talents are known well enough. He compiled over fifty volumes of poetry, becoming the first Asian to win the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1913 following the appearance of the English translation of his magnum opus, Gitanjali (Offerings of Song). He was also an acclaimed novelist, short-story writer, playwright and essayist. He wrote numerous musicals and dance dramas, travelogues and two autobiographies. His songs and the music he composed for them spawned an entire branch of music that carries his name to this day – Rabindra Sangeet. He was also a prolific painter who left behind a vast body of work consisting of over three thousand drawings and paintings that evoke great wonder and admiration even today. In all these fields, Tagore was a master exponent of his art and much of his literary work is among the most translated among Asian authors.
It is somewhat staggering therefore to consider the fact that a man of these multifaceted talents was also a great humanist, a philosopher and an educator. Though he never completed his own formal school education, Tagore went on to set up two schools and an international university, Vishwa Bharati, at Shantiniketan in West Bengal, as “a center for the study of humanity beyond the limits of nation and geography”. As a philosopher with a universalist vision who travelled extensively across continents, Tagore’s focus on the importance of truth and beauty in life was acknowledged, among others, by Einstein, a friend and contemporary of Tagore. Indeed, German translations of Tagore’s work have been available for nearly a century and the German public is keenly aware of his standing as a writer and philosopher.
This concluding event of Tagore’s 150th Birth Anniversary celebrations is an exhibition devoted to Tagore the painter. Since the originals are now in a delicate condition and cannot travel around the world, the works displayed here are high quality digital reproductions. While these works do not represent Tagore’s full repertoire, they do indicate the immense variety of themes, subjects and techniques that he utilized.
It is particularly appropriate and fitting that this tribute to Tagore’s art should take place in a setting devoted to preserving the rich legacy of a remarkable German painter, Oswald Malura. The link between Tagore and Malura, however, goes much beyond this simple coincidence. As a young man just starting out in the world of art, Oswald Malura spent three years travelling around the Indian subcontinent more than eighty years ago. In India, he ended up visiting Vishwa Bharati, the university founded by Tagore, where he met the great man himself, made a small film on him and also painted a portrait of Tagore. This remarkable painting can also be seen displayed in the Malura Museum today.
I convey my best wishes to the exhibition. In particular, I would like to thank Oswald’s son, Andrew Malura, who, together with his charming wife, Elke, is responsible for this remarkable museum. Both of them are worthy inheritors of the rich legacy of work produced by Oswald Malura. Their generous offer to host this exhibition of Tagore’s paintings came at the perfect time and I am deeply grateful to them.
On behalf of the Consulate General of India in Munich, I would also like to record my appreciation of the work done in the organization of this event by the Indien-Institut, the foremost German organization working in the field of Indo-German cultural relations. Perhaps fittingly, Rabindranath Tagore himself was an honorary member of the Indien-Institut!
1932 the paths of Oswald Malura and Rabindranath Tagore crossed. Today, exactly 80 years later, this memorable encounter resurrects in an extraordinary way, as paintings of the Bengali artist and philosopher are displayed. Thereby the exhibition documents the meeting of two remarkable artistic personalities and simultaneously ventures a crossover between two countries with very diverse tradition lines.
The biographies of both artists demonstrate the importance of international exchange for art and culture: In 1932, a traveling scholarship of the academy of fine arts in Munich enabled the young painter Oswald Malura to travel to India, which was a rather extraordinary destination for an art student in those days. The impressions that he gained during his stay in India had a lasting influence on his later work. Tagore has equally done numerous stays abroad and promoted the connection of Eastern and Western Thinking.
Malura and Tagore were pioneers of their time concerning intercultural communication. Nowadays, a close contact even across cultural borders is taken for granted. For a long time Bavarian and Indian Universities have been maintaining cooperation encouraged by the Bavarian-Indian center of higher education. This institution is committed to the networking of the two countries. It is of great importance to me to intensify this dialogue.
With heart-felt gratitude, I thank the Promoters and Initiators of this Exhibit for allowing us to reap the benefits of both Artists, while they show us a valuable contribution to the continuing Cultural Exchange between Bavaria and India.
The 150th birthday of Rabindranath
Tagore (7th of May 1861 – 7th of August 1941), widely revered for
his work as a poet, painter, composer and philosopher, has been the reason
for worldwide exhibitions and anniversary events. One of the few personalities
that had the chance to portray and even record a film with the Indian
Nobel Prize winner of literature in his old age was Oswald Malura, a painter
from Munich (9th of October 1906 – 29th of June 2003). Therefore
he was honored by the State of India with the Rabindranath Tagore award
On the ninth of May 2011 as a
start to the anniversary year of Rabindranath Tagore an extensive biographical
documentation of his life and work was presented in the apartment,where
the former „Dream City meetings” had taken place. Furthermore
the presentation of some of Malura´s Indian paintings and readings
from his book about India helped to pass on the memory of an Indian-German
encounter which was quite unique back then (1932).