Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Volume 5, Issue 12, Tuesday, March 23, 2010




Blissful Shantiniketan

IN a display that is traced back to the days of Tagore, done by a remarkable photographer and an artist, one saw the story of the "The River" through the eyes of Jean Renoir, the famous French filmmaker.

Jean Renoir is the son of the great French Impressionist, Renoir. Held recently at La Galerie, Alliance Française, this exhibit was totally mesmerising. The in-depth photos contained amazing images of people, like Rabindranath Tagore and his ambiance at Shantiniketan.

Pillars, balconies, arches, alcoves, boats, rivers and bridges have been brought in a manner that one does not find even in some of the great master photographers from overseas, today. Trees, hedges, bushes, spikes of grass, motifs on pottery seen from the distance and Kama Sutra type images of deities were furthermore included.

Yet even a mother superior, so to put it, would not blush. Glistening bodies of Ravi Shankar, blowing the trumpet accompanied by well-oiled bodies of wrestlers. There was nothing harum-scarum, or unplanned.

Soothing and lyrical, the experience of viewing the images and photos, just twice over, within a short period of time, left one breathless with admiration. Both local and overseas art buffs were seen to flock to the exhibit even on the weekends.

The sepia coloured pre-World War photos and the dramatic drawings contained sketches and photos, which had humour and brought in the essential joie de vivre that one seeks in the confusing existence in most metropolises.

Fun, banter, and the soothing idyllic existence of the nostalgic past left an indelible mark on the mind. The exhibit itself was carefully arranged, so that eye-relief and comprehension was easy to get for the viewer.

Tranquillity and harmony were the essence of the display. One gathered those just by sliding and gliding through the exhibit room. Peaceful co-existence was the final impact. One wished one could lounge around there, forever and a day. Such a dramatic, nonpareil and nostalgic endeavour is surely wishful thinking, in our 21st century.

One remembers T. S. Eliot's prayer "Data, Damyata, Daytvam... Shanti, Shanti, Shanti".

By Fayza Haq



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