Six cultural events to check out this month, from star-gazing to Kafka-esque cabaretby Prospect / November 16, 2011 / Leave a comment
We Have a Pope: the new comedy from Italian director Nanni Moretti is a gentle, subtle film rather than a savage satire about Catholicism
Rabindranath Tagore: Poet and Painter Victoria & Albert Museum, 11th December-4th March, Tel: 020 7942 2000
The 150th anniversary of Rabindranath Tagore’s birth this year has seen a resurgence of interest in his work. Yet two of his most prominent champions, Amartya Sen and Amit Chaudhuri, have complained that his poems—written in Bengali and difficult to translate—are under-read in the west.
Unlike his poetry, Tagore’s paintings do not suffer from the language barrier; he even declined to give them titles. An exhibition opening at the Victoria & Albert Museum in December offers another approach to this extraordinary figure, who had already won the Nobel prize for literature when he took up painting in his sixties.
Tagore’s early sketches—doodles he drew around the crossed-out words and revisions on his manuscripts—are some of his most immediate works. They show fantastical creatures, which he would later describe in a typically poetic fashion: “a bird that can only soar in dreams” or “a probable animal that had unaccountably missed its chance of existence.”
On loan from Visva-Bharati University, many of the paintings on show have never been displayed outside India, where Tagore’s work has been a major influence on artists such as Jamini Roy and Eleena Banik. This exhibition, one of only a handful in Britain since the 1930s, is a rare chance to appreciate Tagore first-hand.
Aloe Blacc On tour nationwide from 3rd December
The soul revival has been going for the best part of a decade but it still turns up the occasional star. Egbert Nathaniel Dawkins III (aka Aloe Blacc) of Orange County started life as a rapper and then worked for the consultancy Ernst & Young. After being laid off he returned to music and was briefly hyped as the “voice of the recession” with the release of his modern-day dustbowl anthem “I Need A Dollar” earlier this year. His album Good Things abounds with songs about honourable, blue-collar endeavour and hardship, the lyrical offspring of Marvin Gaye or Curtis Mayfield. The music shimmers with 1960s horns, slick beats and Friday night glamour, providing the kind of spiritual uplift that only soul can bring.
On stage Blacc is a master of ceremonies, particularly fond of call-and-response with the crowd, and looks…