44. Special Exhibit: Tagore - Malura 16.4. - 29.7. 2012
Special Exhibit: Ulrike Albert 1.5.- 3.6. 2012
46. Special Exhibit: Lech - Amersee 10.5. - 29.7. 2012


A bridge between India and Germany

Oswald Malura meets Rabindranath Tagore (1932)

(150 Year Rabindranath Tagore 105 Year Oswald Malura)
Exhibition from 16th of April until 29th of July, 2012

Rabindranath Tagore as a painter
Exhibition in Malura Museum, Oberdießen

Under the guidedance of the Indian Consul General of Munich, Vikram Misri


It gives me great joy to see the Malura Museum in Oberdiessen hosting the concluding event of the year-long celebrations of the 150th Birth Anniversary of Rabindranath Tagore.

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!

Vikram Misri
Consul General of India

Übersetzung in Deutsche:
Dr.phil. Thomas Klihm, Thansau

  Welcoming Address

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.

Munich, in March 2012

Dr. Wolfgang Heubisch

Bavarian State Minister for
Science, Research and Art

Accompanying Words: Dr. Brigitta Rambeck, Curator

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 in 1986.
In 1926 Oswald Malura began his studies at the Akademie der bildenden Künste (academy of fine arts) in Munich where he quickly became a master student. A Mons traveling scholarship enabled the young student to travel to India where he lived and painted for three years (1929-1932). During his stay he got the chance to meet Mahatma Gandhi, Annie Besant and Rabindranath Tagore. These encounters left a strong and lasting impression on the young painter and above all the lifestyle and philosophy of Tagore accompanied him throughout his life.
Based on the experiences Malura had made in India and motivated by his dream of a peaceful world he wanted to link “personalities with a similar spirit”. Therefore he created his own little “Shantiniketan“ in a rural village in the surrounding countryside of Munich after the collapse of the Third Reich. In 1981 he established a “cultural center” in a former farmhouse in Oberdießen. Today it is continued by his son Andrew Malura as “Malura Museum” with a permanent exhibition of the work of Oswald Malura and special exhibitions of other artists. Furthermore it is still open as a meeting-place for artists, kids, adolescents and adults interested in art as well as a place for literary and musical events of all types. On the upper floor of the museum, where solely Malura´s Indian paintings are displayed, the spirit of a "Shantiniketan" can be felt spontaneously even by the uninitiated as an atmospheric experience.
In 1949 the journal that Malura had done during his journey as well as some of his drawings and paintings were published in a book titled „As a painter trough India“. A translation into English is in the planning stage.
To contribute to the preservation of the museum, a registered non-profit association “Friends of Malura Museum” was founded in 2007 that also supports exhibitions and events. And even in Munich Oswald Malura had helped to create a meeting-place: His former home in the heart of Munich was the venue of the legendary “Dream City meeting’s” inspired by poet Peter Paul Althaus. Another non-profit association called “Save the Dream City” that was founded in 2010 had set itself the objective of maintaining this historic site permanently for cultural purposes, which unfortunately did not succeed.

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).
Due to the great interest in this early Indian-German exchange by both the Indian Embassy in Berlin as well as the Indian General Consulatein Munich on the occasion of the anniversary year of Tagore, it was possible for the Malura Museum to put together an exhibition of 50 digital reproductions of art works of Rabindranath Tagore in original size. The collection represents the essential elements of his painting style as well as most of his favorite topics. At the same time a large portion of the available paintings and drawings that Malura had created during his trip to India are displayed.
Posthumously the exhibition is the encounter of a special kind: The Indian Nobel Prize winner of literature had not turned to visual arts till the age of 67, i.e. in the late nineteen-twenties. It was this time, when Oswald Malura visited India and met Tagore, who was then almost half a century older than the German painter. The confrontation stands for exciting and insightful moments in the comparative analysis of the works: the somewhat late-impressionist paintings, done by a young German in India, meeting the works of the old wise Indian poet-artist, permeated by Indian spirituality,but yet visibly influenced by European art principles.Furthermore the movie that Oswald Malura had filmed during his stay in India is going to be shown as part of the exhibition.

Our sincere thanks go to the Indian Consul General in Munich, Vikram Misri, whose contribution had made this exhibition possible.

Translation in English by Louisa Klebe