Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The dance of Shiva

The Nataraja, or dancing form of Shiva is full of mystery, strength and grace. A young artist Himanshu Rai, makes various modern day variations in fiberglass of the dancing form of Shiva, or just small installations by using a few features from the Nataraja.

I saw his works at an exhibition at the Lalit Kala Akademi and found him hugely talented.
What was a distinguishing feature in Himanshu's works was the fluidity, strength and beauty that we associate with the dance, or Nritya of Nataraja.

Himanshu also works a lot on the illustration and animation fronts. One could see the influences in several of his sculptures.

What I also found very interesting were the modern day avatars of Devis and Devatas with all sorts of paraphernalia. They were life size figures and looked straight out of a sci-fi movie!

Monday, August 4, 2014

The story of Madurai

I was familiar with photographs of the facade of the famous Meenakshi temple of Madurai, or photographs of the Madurai skyline showing Meenakshi temple. But for pictures that tell a story about Madurai, you should see the work of Manohar Devadoss:

I chanced upon his work because of an article about him in The Hindu. But I got impressed more and more about the man as I read about his life. Struck by a "retinis pigmentosa",  a degenerative eye disease as a teenager, and hardly able to see now, Manohar

Devadoss has continued his work aided by special tools and strong halogen lights.
His wife Mahema initiated him into oil painting in the 1960's, and supported him in all his writing and drawing, but a cruel accident when the family was driving from Chennai to Madurai, paralyzed her from neck downwards. This was in 1972.

Not one give up, Manohar has produced hundreds of drawings, and also written several books. His wife Mahema continued to support as much as she could in both writing and drawing activities for more than three decades, with all her disabilities.

Manohar lost his wife about six years back, but continues to write and draw as much as he can. The Hindu article came about after the recent publication of his latest work "From an artist's perspective". He has described in the book his understanding of the concept of perspective in art.

As I browsed through his work, I got glimpses of life in the the city of Madurai which is a backdrop for a lot of his work. The sketches reproduced here are to record some of this admiration for an exceptional artist and his work.



Saturday, July 26, 2014

Kicking up a storm

"Leaf storm" won for me my second Art Slant award, as the 4th 2014 Showcase winner!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Artists on the street, Delhi

After the scenes of art works creating interesting spaces in old market areas like Shankar Market, visitors to Connaught Place had another interesting brush with the arts and artists.

A flash mob of a different kind, organized by "Cause Art" and "Artist at Work Productions", emerged on the streets of Connaught Place on the 6th of July. About 25 artists participated in the event along with their art works.

Pics from: http://www.theworldreporter.com/2014/07/artcause-art-part-everyday-life.html

Visitors and bystanders, shoppers and shopkeepers, who had assumed this was going to be another of the street protests they were used to seeing, were amazed and stunned to find not placards and posters, but colorful paintings being brought out and held by the team of artists.

Soon the crowds were going around looking at the compositions, asking questions of the artists, genuinely puzzled, curious and quite delighted at this unexpected and unfamiliar experience.

  The event helped both parties. Crowds who had never had the time or opportunity to step inside and explore galleries got a taste of the variety of mediums, compositions and themes being used by young contemporary artists.

The artists themselves got a taste of the different and demanding crowd.They answered all sorts of questions on why they painted, what they were trying to say through their work, and what were the challenges of execution they faced in their work.

The organizers were quite happy with the results, and fortunately for Delhi-ites, more such public events will follow.

Street Art, Delhi

Shankar Market on Connaught Palce's outer circle was once a chosen destination for cool fabrics ad dress materials. Over time, it has become a rather forlorn, and paan-stained, ill-frequented place. The move this year to restore some of the footfalls has been rather an innovative one.

The New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) has joined hands with the Delhi Street Art (DSA) movement and commissioned a few artists to refurbish the walls of Shankar Market with their imagination.

 If the Delhi Street Art's work in Hauz Khas is anything to go by, we should soon have some interesting walls in Shankar Market as well.

In fact, there are a few other such old favorite haunts in line for the beautification drive, and the next one to get a facelift will apparently be Gole Market.


Sunday, July 13, 2014


Rob Ferrel is a World Cup hair artist. He can draw a master piece using his hair cutting tools, and give you a dramatic appearance, as per your request!

Rob has a lot of images on his phone of football players and other celebrities that people ask him about. He starts off with a trimmer and razor, to create the drawing on the back of the customer's head. He then uses no-toxic eye-liner and lip-liner pencils to fill in his drawing.

After he has finished, he uses hair spray to add a protective layer to his master piece. One can imagine he would have been extremely busy the past few months. Rob has a team to help him now, but he is the main portrait artist!

Looking at the pictures, all we can say is Ole!


Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Where has the "Jatra" gone?

Till about 15 -20 years back, various Jatra or performing drama troupes would descend on the capital to perform during the Durga Puja. The word "Jatra" itself means a journey, and the troupe members would be on the road in various parts of the country, for most of the year, except for the harvesting season, when they returned to base, presumably somewhere in West Bengal.

 Most of the stories they told would be based on mythology, the epics, or folk tales. The stories would cover legendary kings, gods and goddesses (specially Ma Durga, Kali, Chandi, Ma Manasha), and characters from the puranas. The performance typically started late evening, and could go on for 3-4 hours, stopping just before day-break.

Over time, the Jatra started covering whatever was current in national politics, the literature of the times including love stories (stories from Bankimchandra and Tagore), stories about royalty, and they also made comments on social changes that were taking place.

The clothes, script, dialogue delivery, the posters used for Jatra were all stylized and over-dramatic. The music was semi-classical raga-based or based on well known folk tunes and rhythms. Instruments were usually, dholak, pakhawaj, harmonium, flute and behala (the local violin), tabla, cymbals and trumpets. Songs had to be sung by the actors themselves.

Since the performance was on a stage open on all sides, with practically no sets, and humans sang, or had monologues and dialogues coming in from all sides, there was much commenting, accompanying and merriment in the crowd, which sat on all sides of the stage.

There was another special feature about a Jatra. Apart from a commentator or Sutradhar who strung together various poems, side stories, and dances to the plot, there were a few special characters in a Jatra performance: A figure called Bibek or Conscience would come in at any juncture, pose questions to the audience, give his philosophical perspective, and also discuss future scenarios. Another character called Niyoti or Fate, usually played by a female, would comment on, or foretell the role of time and destiny. There was also sometimes a special actor called Bahurupi (or the one with multiple forms), who true to his name, could take on all sorts of different persona!

I wonder where the Jatra has gone in the days of TV and the internet. I do hope it gets revived and it could then possibly get telecast from a huge arena, with live twitter and messages coming in just like the big games!