EXHIBITION OPENING BRINGS DIGNITARIES AND SOUTH ASIAN COMMUNITIES FROM INDIA AND ONTARIO TOGETHER AT THE McMICHAEL
Evening celebration inaugurates exclusive Canadian showing of
The Last Harvest: Paintings By Rabindranath Tagore
The McMichael Canadian Art Collection hosted a special reception on Wednesday, May 23 for the opening of the exhibition, The Last Harvest: Paintings by Rabindranath Tagore, in the presence of dignitaries from India, Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty, Minister Michael Chan, and approximately 200 guests from the South Asian Community and the gallery. Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941) is beloved by Indians as a poet and writer. He was recognized around the world as the first non-European to be awarded a Nobel Prize for literature, yet few outside India know that he was also a highly regarded visual artist. The Last Harvest: Paintings by Rabindranath Tagore is the one-and-only Canadian showing, on display at the McMichael gallery from May 24 to July 15, 2012.
Mr. Upkar Arora, Chair of the McMichael, welcomed guests on behalf of the McMichael Board of Trustees and the McMichael Foundation Board. Mr. Ajit Khanna, Chair of Panorama India and Tagore Anniversary Celebrations Committee, Toronto (TACCT), remarked on the important work of these two organizations and, more solemnly, paid special tribute to the late Professor Emeritus Joseph O’Connell who passed away suddenly three weeks ago. His wife, Kathleen O’Connell, was presented with flowers at the reception. Both Joseph and Kathleen O’Connell are Tagore scholars, well-known and respected in India from their frequent research trips abroad, and instrumental in bringing this exhibition to fruition in Canada.
Formal remarks continued with Mr. Shashishekhar M. Gavai, High Commissioner of India; Ontario Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport Michael Chan; Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty; Ms. Sangita Gairola, Secretary, Ministry of Culture, Government of India; and Dr. Victoria Dickenson, Executive Director of the McMichael Canadian Art Collection. The formal remarks concluded with Professor Rajeev Lochan, Director, National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi, India, who then led the dignitaries on a tour of Tagore’s exhibition. Other distinguished guests for the evening included Preeti Saran, Consul General of India; and Harinder Takhar, Ontario Minister of Government Services.
It was very fitting that the tour group wound through the McMichael’s permanent collection of Group of Seven paintings first before arriving at The Last Harvest. Premier McGuinty had remarked to guests moments earlier that Rabindranath Tagore was an important influence on the Group of Seven artists such as Fred Varley and Lawren S. Harris in the early decades of the twentieth century, when artists were exchanging ideas regarding theosophy and spiritualism.
The exhibition is organized by the Ministry of Culture, Government of India and the National Gallery of Modern Art as part of the commemoration of the 150th Year Celebrations of Rabindranath Tagore, which involves a number of national and international programs, including showcasing Tagore’s paintings at select museums across the world from 2011 to 2012. The Last Harvest: Paintings by Rabindranath Tagore, curated by Professor Raman Siva Kumar of Visva-Bharati University, comprises more than sixty works on paper drawn from three collections in India. The exhibition has been presented in New York’s Asia Society Museum and the Art Institute of Chicago, with other versions being exhibited in Paris, Rome, London, Seoul, Kuala Lumpur, and Berlin.
The Canadian exhibition at the McMichael is presented in collaboration with Panorama India and Tagore Anniversary Celebrations Committee, Toronto (TACCT). Panorama India, a non-profit umbrella organization that helps unite all Indo-Canadian cultural associations and groups in the GTA, provides a platform to exhibit and showcase arts and culture. “It brings us great pleasure to work with the McMichael in hosting this exhibition as we continue gaining greater recognition for Rabindranath Tagore’s work,” said Ajit Khanna, Chair, Panorama India. “The McMichael Canadian Art Collection is one of Canada's leading cultural institutions and an ideal venue for the culmination of Tagore’s 150th anniversary celebrations, in the South Asian community and Canada.”
Celebrations continue at the McMichael with special programs
It was a wonderful evening to share celebrations amongst all those who cherish Rabindranath Tagore and to celebrate the artist’s many creative gifts he has passed down to generations. The McMichael gallery will continue the spirit of celebration with special programs offered throughout the duration of the exhibition. This Saturday, May 26, Raman Siva Kumar, curator, and Dipak Mazumdar, translator, will be at the gallery to lead a tour and read Tagore’s poetry.
On the evening of Thursday, May 31, the McMichael hosts a special workshop for educators, Tagore Comes to Ontario Schools. Tagore's lifelong interest in integrating social justice, the environment, and arts into a teaching curriculum inspired a group of dedicated Ontario teachers to develop school programs based on his educational ideas that could be incorporated into The Ontario Curriculum. During this special evening event, teachers and educators will have an opportunity to participate in a Tagore workshop led by the teachers who developed the programs and continue to follow them in their classroom. A display of their students' work will be on view at the McMichael between May 26 and June 3, 2012. Participants will also be offered a special after-hours viewing of The Last Harvest: Paintings by Rabindranath Tagore exhibition. Light refreshments will be served. Cost: Free for teachers and educators.
Sunday, June 3, is Ananda Mela: Celebrating Rabindranath Tagore at the McMichael. Each year at his school in Santiniketan, Rabindranath Tagore, who is also celebrated as a pioneer of modern education, would organize a joyful fair—Ananda Mela—celebrating the year’s learning and teaching. Today, we invite everyone to participate in workshops developed along the lines of Tagore’s teaching philosophy that integrates visual, poetic, and musical arts. Come enjoy our festive offerings, with musical performances by the Geetanjali Music and Dance Group (directed by Manashi Adhikari), and a presentation of Satyajit Ray’s films inspired by Tagore’s writings.
- Ananda Mela workshops, ongoing, 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
- Satyajit Ray films, starting at 12:00 p.m. with an introduction by Kathleen O’Connell, lecturer in South Asia Studies at the University of Toronto
- Dance, music, and poetry performance at 1:30 p.m.
On Sunday, June 24 at 11:30 a.m., it’s Rabindranath Tagore: East Meets Great North. The Group of Seven’s fascination with Rabindranath Tagore reflects the Western pre-occupation with Eastern philosophy and aesthetics at the turn of the twentieth century. In this Art Chat, discover how smoothly these two cultural worlds were able to fuse ideas through the art and life of this great Bengali poet, composer, artist, and thinker. Cost: Included with gallery admission.