When Natasha van Bentum first wrote to me about her husband, Henri van Bentum’s 100 Mandalas which have been structured as reflections on Rabindranath Tagore’s Gitanjali poems, I was intrigued. I asked Natasha to send me samples of this project, and she was willing to send me the entire opus of Organiverse and Gitanjali.
The compositions, created in 1972 and using pointillism in water colour, are intricate and intense. The idea of mandalas with their Hindu and Buddhist symbolism, signify a universal search for release from suffering, reaching out towards an unutterable joy.
This expressive art form resonates with Rabindranath’s own search throughout his long life for the meaning and purpose of life in the face of the death of many of his loved ones that he experienced, including that of his wife and three of his children and the threat of destruction of the world that he witnessed during World War 1, the rising turmoil of the Inter-War years and the culmination in the outbreak of the Second World War.
WW2 distressed Rabindranath and disturbed his faith in the West as he looked to the East for a message for the world. This is something he had gleaned from the Upanishads and from Buddha’s teachings. In Henri’s mandalas, we witness a unity of the East and the West, which accounts for their universal appeal.
Issue 7 – Spring 2023
Title Page, Editorial Board, Advisory Board
Bashabi Fraser – Foreword Organiverse and Gitanjali, A Special Issue of Gitanjali and Beyond, x – xi
Statement by the Artist Henri van Bentum (1929-2022) Page 12
Description Page 13
Henri van Bentum, Artist (1929-2022) Page 15
Natasha van Bentum Page 18
Brian W.E. Johnson Page 19
Resources Page 21
Organiverse Collection Pages 21 – 220