Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Celebrating contemporary artists

Since most of us, me included, found fault with the National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA), for almost complete inaction over the last few years, we must also give praise where it is due.

The NGMA has been running its first retrospective of a contemporary artist, Atul Dodiya.

The selection, curated by Ranjit Hoskote, was a treat to watch. Most of us are familiar with Atul Dodiya's work with rolling shutters.

The exhibition however was comprehensive, giving a glimpse into the thought process of the artist. I found particularly his Gandhi series very thought provoking and inspiring.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Golden Era

I went to an exhibition recently where the artist was perhaps trying to capture the golden forgotten days of his childhood.

Amit Dutt was exhibiting at the Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi, from his series "Art Sutra" (the closest expression would probably be "the meaning of art".

The paintings were on the theme of various traditional childhood games like "Lattoo" ( a spinning top), "Ludo" (a board game played with a dice, by two or four players), "pitthoo" (played with small flat stones stacked in a column, and with a rubber ball), and "Gilli-Danda" (played with two sticks, a long cylindrical one, and the other one short and rounded). These games are popular as amateur childhood sports in large parts of India and the sub-continent, and do not require much resources.

Here is an image of his composition, with the friends gaily playing "pitthoo".

There were also installations, all on the theme of various artifacts, tools and instruments of yester-years.
I specially liked the dressed-up gramophone:

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Dilli O Dilli

Madhubani paintings refer to various distinctive and ritual art forms practices in the Mithila region of Northern Bihar.
I attended an exhibition of Madhubani paintings from "Traditional to Contemporary" curated by Manisha Jha, who was also one of the artists.
It was extremely refreshing to see Madhubani paintings where the artists while being true to the medium, and its heritage in terms of strokes and nuances, explored their individual creativity. The artists happened to be all women, and their works dealt with events in their lives, their issues, their gods and goddesses, as well as contemporary challenges, and surroundings.

This black and white composition called "Dilli 2" is by artist Manisha Jha :

The show is currently on at Rabindra Bhavan, Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Is that a trash can?

It was good to see the trash cans at Delhi's scenic and beloved Lodhi Gardens getting dressed up. Post the make-over, these trash cans are getting a huge response from delighted visitors.

Cans turned into canvases


In fact, trash cans were earlier hardly noticed, and sadly not used much at all. The new trash cans are practically begging to be noticed and used.

A NEW CANVASYogesh Saini painting a trash can at Lodi Gardens


Such initiatives may slowly just make the Delhi citizen more aware and appreciative of its public spaces. That would be a huge contribution by the dedicated band of artists led by creative entrepreneur Yogesh Saini. The group has set its sights on many more dustbins, and then painting and transforming the larger spaces in the city. There are walls, subways, school and college compounds, playgrounds and hospitals....so many places waiting to be dressed up...

Saturday, November 9, 2013

A new ligament?

In today's world of advanced scans and MRIs, most of us would have been a little surprised to hear scientists had discovered a new body part: apparently we have one extra ligament in the knee we did not know about.


Source: http://newsfeed.time.com/2013/11/06/your-knee-bones-connected-to-your-what-scientists-discover-new-body-part/

Time to pay homage to the great genius Leonardo Da Vinci:  We are still discovering how correct his drawings were, in all aspects including details of muscles, tendons and even blood vessels.

It was good to know about the Edinburgh International Festival, which showcased Da Vinci's distinctive anatomical drawings alongside modern day scans to show just how correct Da Vinci had been: 

In fact Leonardo is also venerated as the father of embryology by medical scientists. The study of the formation and maturity of the human foetus was totally unheard of in the time of Leonardo Da Vinci.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Colour Saffron

Saffron is widely used in Indian, Persian, Arab, Turkish and European cuisines. It is also used as a dye, and for its traditional healing properties. It is an autumn flowering plant, and saffron fields make a pretty sight, like this photograph in The Hindu newspaper today, of a girl plucking saffron flowers at a farm in Pampore, on the outskirts of Srinagar.

In bloom:A girl plucking saffron flowers at a farm in Pampore on the outskirts of Srinagar on Monday.— Photo: Nissar Ahmad

As per local legend, saffron first arrived in Kashmir in the 11th or 12th century AD, when two foreign and itinerant Sufi ascetics, Khwaja Masood Wali and Hazrat Sheikh Shariffudin, wandered into Kashmir. A tomb in Pampore is dedicated to the two saints. However, some scholars maintain that saffron has been grown in the Kashmir valley since two millennia, and came much earlier through Persian rulers or through trade routes.  

Here is an example of saffron being used to provide the yellow-orange hue, in a painting known for the earliest portrayal of Thomas Becket's murder in Canterbury Cathedral:

File:Thomas Becket Murder.JPG

A huge amount of about half a kilogram of flowers are required to yield about 5 gm. of dried saffron. We know - from paintings again, as available in ancient palace frescoes - that monkeys helped in the picking of saffron flowers!


Monday, October 28, 2013

Say No to Crackers

"The National Green Tribunal has ordered relaxation of the firecracker noise norm in Bengal from 90 decibel at 5 metres from the source to the less stringent central standard of 125 decibel at 4 metres from the source. The green lobby and society at large had hailed the Bengal norm framed in 1997 as a pioneering effort to check noise pollution."


With all the discussion going around the topic, what caught my eye was this picture of school children participating in a rally against noise pollution and crackers in Kolkatta on Sunday. This sure was a pleasant way to protest.

Schoolchildren participating in a rally against noise pollution and crackers in Kolkata on Sunday.– Photo: PTI

Patronage of the Arts

An article in today's Times of India highlights that the National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi, has not acquired any new work of art in the last 6 years. While no gallery would feel proud about such a statistic, NGMA in fact has the lofty stated objective that it "helps people to look at the works of modern art with greater joy, understanding and knowledge by extending their relationship with our daily life and experiencing them as vital expressions of the human spirit."

It would be better probably for NGMA to set a few achievable and pedantic goals for the year like the number of artists they would support; the number of artworks they would acquire, restore, display; and the number of art students, teachers and general public whom they would establish some relationship with.


The fine arts have a dependence on patronage, government or otherwise, and in return they contribute so much to enhancing people's imagination and empathy. So one hopes NGMA will get its act together fast.

With its splendid collection built up over years, the art community and the general public has huge expectations from the NGMA.

Source: http://ngmaindia.gov.in/

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Papier-mâché elephants

Imagine life size elephants made out of paper. Obviously the pachyderms were strong, as the report below mentioned children and adults mounting the animals! The children could not have had joy rides, but could have patted the animals, and sat on them as long as they wished. 

I have heard of baby elephants being made of paper, and displayed in fairs or school functions. But this one is a commendable feat. I do wish the organizers bring these elephants to other cities too!


Papier-mâché elephants greeted the city’s Malayalees at Aavanipoovarangu 2013 on Sunday. Photo: M. Vedhan

Saturday, October 19, 2013

A Banksy on your building?

British street artist Banksy set up a pop-up booth in Central Park, New York. He sold signed original canvasses for $60 each, on Saturday, 12th October. He is said to have sold $220,000 worth of art for $420. One woman who bought two small canvasses is said to have bargained her way into getting a 50 per cent discount.

On a one-month residency in New York, the artist has been painting new work at surprise locations every day, evoking delighted or horrified responses, depending on the residents' preferences.

The tough-on-crime Mr Bloomberg said during a press conference in Manhattan that graffiti



Friday, October 18, 2013

Rangoli patterns

While the majority of Indians honor the goddess of wealth, Lakshmi on the day of Diwali, Bengalis do a special "puja" or prayer ceremony for Lakshmi on the full moon following Dussehra. It is called Kojagari Lakshmi Puja and fell on the 18th October this year.
One important part of the puja is the "Rangoli" patterns or "Alpana" done on the floor. The second important part of course is the food, made of grains from the new harvest, accompanied by sweets made of coconut and jaggery.
The Rangoli is easily done even in urban homes, with a paste of rice soaked in water for a few hours. The patterns are all woven around the feet of Lakshmi, stalks of the new harvest or lotus flowers, the favorite of the goddess. The feet of Laksmi are always drawn pointed towards the house, to depict her entering and blessing the house.
Here are a few traditional patterns:

Lakshmi Pada Rangoli 9

Lakshmi Pada Rangoli 4

You will find many more patterns at these sources amongst others:

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Of masters and heroes

A collection of contemporary artists from South India called "Of Masters and Heroes" has been mounted in the capital. It gives a glimpse into the cultural, social, political as well as aesthetic perspectives of the region. The Madras school of art was apparently the first arts college in the country, and has played a significant role in development of artists from the region.

A painting by Pon Ragunathan on display at the exhibition.


Monday, October 14, 2013

Bhimbetka cave paintings, near Bhopal

The Bhimbetka rock shelters in the Raisen district, Madhya Pradeh, India, have been declared a world heritage site. They contain a large number of paintings, some of which are more than 30,000 years old! The colours used are vegetable dyes, and the ones that have endured have probably done so being so deep inside the caves, or being inside rock niches.
The name Bhimbetka is said to have been derived from Bhima, one of the Pandavas, in the epic Mahabharata, and as per legend, Bhima sat here.
The paintings themselves are supposed to bear a significant resemblance to the Lascaux cave paintings in France. There are clearly scenes of hunting, dancing, and other community activities with large numbers of men, women, animals, birds, weapons and instruments.
It is wonderful that so much has survived of these cave paintings to the modern age, and that they do get shared and talked about from time to time:

Art across eons. Photo: Baaran Ijlal

Source: http://www.thehindu.com/features/magazine/rocks-of-ages/article5075148.ece

A sample of rock painting at Bhimbetka.

Source: http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/tp-otherstates/bhimbetka-a-treasure-of-prehistoric-art/article1260868.ece

Source: http://www.hindu.com/mag/2006/01/29/stories/2006012900410800.htm

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Sanjhi Art

Sanjhi is the art of hand-cutting designs on paper. It originated in Mathura, Uttar Pradesh, India, and therefore motifs from stories of Krishna abound in Sanjhi creations:


Like most urban artists, I did not know much about this art form and was driven to explore only because of a few mentions in the media lately. The one above was in the Times of India.

One of the main proponents and National Award winner, Mr. Ram Soni was covered in The Hindu recently:

Stencil:Playing with designs.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Puja pandals

Pujas are a great occasion to bring alive the spirit of  "Ma"/ "Devi" with spectacular puja "pandals", decorations and cultural events.
This time there has been a renewed interest in Jamini Roy, witness this great effort at Dwarka, Delhi:

Art divine: Students of College of Art, Delhi. Photo: Shiv Kumar Pushpakar.

Source: http://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/a-brush-with-mother/article5217775.ece

And these (above) were the scenes from puja pandals in Delhi and Gurgaon.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

At the end of the Day

Art provides some peace of mind to these troubled young girls:


Bless the staff at Protsahan if they can bring a few smiles and a few moments of solace to these young girls and women.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Art and the City

Art in public places

It is always great to see art being an everyday, every-place part of life in a city, like this description of art in public life at Miami city:


The living room at Vizcaya where on the right, an Italian altarpiece conceals the pipes of Deering's Weltemignon player organ. Photo courtesy Vizcaya Museum & Gardens

However, one hardly ever hears of such initiatives in Indian cities. I was pleasantly surprised to hear therefore of an effort in Hauz Khas village, New Delhi, by Columbian artist Vicky Fadul. I am waiting to visit there soon and see the outcome myself. Looking forward to more such initiatives in Indian cities.


Vicky Fadul interacting with participants.

Fractal Quilts

Fractal Art Quilts

This is a stunning example of fractals inspiring all kinds of compositions:

Rose Rushbrooke is inspired by fractals and combines them with traditional quilt work, and uses cotton, silk and beads for her creations.

Also, she has listed a whole lot of useful links on her page, for other admirers of fractals.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Flowers, Artists and Scientists

Richard Feynman on flowers, artists and scientists


Sunflower seed spirals follow a mathematical sequence

"Can scientists appreciate beauty? Over 30 years ago, physicist Richard Feynman claimed that a scientist can see more beauty in a flower than an artist. Sine then, science and art have combined to bring the meaning of his words to life." 

Go to:

Friday, August 30, 2013

Science-Art curriculum

Integrating Art in Math-Science curriculum:

Found an interesting article here. This should interest teachers of both science as well as arts at the school stage.
It is also of relevance to trainers, educators, motivators and coaches in all walks of life at a later stage, when personal development is not segmented so narrowly, and constraints of a school curriculum do not exist:

"The main message of both artists and scientists is that we use evidence in multiple ways..."

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Women, Artists, & 70+

Women artists: All of whom made it big after 70!

I would draw or paint often on, but it was always a part-time activity along with a science education, a career in banking, teaching and in senior management.
It was only after 50, that painting started getting a higher priority in life. I was particularly delighted to read therefore about all these artists therefore who all made it big in the art world after turning 70:

Please note all of them are women!

Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian, Etel Adnan, Mary Delany, Carmen Herrera, Grandma Moses, and Alice Mackler

Useful Tips

Useful stuff: storing paintings

Storing paintings on a rack. I got a rack of this kind built for my studio, and I find it immensely useful. A useful tip: If possible, keep one dimension of your canvas the same or similar. This will help in stacking them neatly.


This information is really useful for rolling up a canvas: