28 February 2010

The Scream.....an engaging & evocative piece of art!!!!

How many of us have seen this amazing work &  not been touched by it.....well, I for one have not been able to put it away from my mind & I actually happened to see this the first time in a television commercial!!!!

The Scream- A painting by Norwegian artist Edward Munch was based on the expressionist style of painting & was regarded as the most famous of his work. We do often see how an artist's name sells his work but in this case, the artist's work has made him famous & identifiable. 'The scream' had so engulfed the artist's work he actually had to make several copies of this work in different media inorder to deconstruct it.

The painting depicts an agonised figure wailing against a blood red sky. The landscape is from Oslofjord, Norway. Concerning the image, Munch wrote: "I was walking along a path with two friends - the sun was setting - suddenly the sky turned blood red - I paused, feeling exhausted, and leaned on the fence - there was blood and tongues of fire above the blue-black fjord and the city - my friends walked on, and I stood there trembling with anxiety - and I sensed an infinite scream passing through nature." 

The reason this painting has attained a cult status could be that people have identified & empathised with the emotions in the painting, that being of raw pain & agony.

The painting has also been used in many movies, commercials, cartoons like the 'Simpsons' & has also been the focus of repeated thefts due to the public's fascination with it.

25 February 2010

Chennapatna toys.....an art form & the safest toys that can be used today!!!!

Recently, while returning from a trip to Mysore, we stopped by at the small city of Chennapatna which is on the Mysore- Bangalore highway. Although it was for just a little while & I did'nt get to see the place, I had heard quite a bit about it. The craft of the place has captured my imagination for quite a while now & I cannot help collecting & hoarding up on these toys.

This craftsmanship of Channapatna Toys (also called Gombegala Ooru or toy-town of Karnataka) can be traced to the time of Tipu Sultan, the erstwhile ruler of Mysore who invited artisans from Persia to train the local artists in the making of wooden toys. This tradition has continued for nearly 2 centuries & we now have people entirely engaged in this profession.

The wooden toys & dolls are made using wood (preferably ivory-wood) which is seasoned, pruned & carved & finally colours made out of vegetable dye are used to ensure that the toys are safe for children.

Because this traditional craft is ancient & might possibly die out, the Govt. of Karnataka has protected it as a Geographical Indication (GI) & is doing all it can to keep the artisans up to date on the changing trends & market the products succesfully.

I guess all of us need to do our bit, take the time out & know & appreciate these one of a kind pieces!!!

24 February 2010

Pop art ....anything to do with Pop culture???

Well, although I had seen quite a bit of this art, I tried to find out whether there is any relation between the two. Surprisingly there is!!!

Pop art is a direct derivative of the Popular culture of the '50's & '60's originating in Britian, US & China. As is with most art forms that originate inorder to rebel against the prevailing art forms, it has tried to understand the ordinary & 'kitschy' elements drawn from popular mass culture like advertisements, comic books, movie posters etc & interpreted in such a way as to make people think.

It basically was a movement to go against what was generally done & try & incorporate daily themes & icons into art & paintings. We thus have artists like Roy Lichtenstein using comic strip characters in his painting titled 'Drowning Girl' (1963). This was depicted very lightly albeit in a softer & thought provoking manner. I guess it was also done in a bid to poke fun at anything produced on a mass scale.

One of the earliest proponents of this art form was the artist Eduardo Paolozzi, who used collages of everyday elements present in American popular culture & assembled them creating a piece of art. In fact in the latter half of the 20th century, we even had artists like Picasso whose body of work mainly comprised of Pop art.

We thus see how this whole movement only goes to show that every visual panorama, whether its inside the 4 walls of our house or outside it: cars, pathyways, TV, adverts etc....everything can actually belong to & be incorporated into the world of art because they make us think & can stimulate & excite our basic emotions. They can be related to, not only visually but also emotionally!!!

23 February 2010

The Roman Colosseum......a learning in Architecture!

Recently on the net, while going through some of the most visited places in the world, I came across the Roman Colosseum...a building considered as one of the world's greatest architectural marvel!!!!

Now why would it get this tag, is something one can believe only when its seen & felt.

Truly, to actually comprehend that this marvel was made around 72AD, at a time when there were no means of transport, no communication, no architects is rather difficult!!!!

The Colosseum stands just east of the Roman forum & was constructed under the reign of Emperor Vespasian & thereafter Titus. It was modelled on the Pagan God Apollo complete with a dome at the top but later was converted into an amphitheatre after the dome was pulled apart. It has a seating capacity of 50,000 & was originally used in the gladiatoral games & other public spectacles like executions, animal hunts. Subsequently, it has been used for various other purposes & now evantually serving as a tourist attraction. There have been many people & animals who have died in this place, thus it has both, been condemned as well as regarded sacred.

In recent times, it has also found a mention in songs & movies like the 'Gladiator' in the year 2000 & 'Jumper' in 2008.

Although it has been partially damaged due to earthquakes, stone robbers, flaura etc it is one of Rome's most iconic symbols, a leading tourist attraction & a great engineering & architectural marvel.

Murals....a passion undertaken only by the gifted!!!

I have often wondered how Murals as an art form have come about & evolved!! especially since they can be time consuming & were initially done on a large surface with absolutely no drawing or format as reference.

Murals basically refer to an artwork painted directly on a wall, ceiling or a large permanent surface. Am sure for most of us, the first thing that comes to mind are the paintings on the walls of the Sistine Chapel by Michaelangelo. These were called 'Frescoes' by the Italians & the paint was directly applied on nearly dry plaster of walls or ceilings. The same kind of work can be seen in many heritage palaces in India & down south, closer to home at the Ajantha & Ellora caves...which need to be seen to be believed.

Towards the latter period however, these murals were painted using oil colours on canvas & then later transported to their destination & attached to the walls making the work a lot easier, but then the paintings were pretty dull looking & lost the lustre with age due to deterioration.

To make this same process a lot easier, in recent years digital prints have been produced & applied on walls. But since they are mass produced, they lack the originality of an art work & that's why, we might now be finding a gradual diminishing of these beautiful artworks & thus have to rely more & more on finding genuine antique pieces of work to show us how murals can completely transform our living spaces.

20 February 2010

Madhubani Paintings.....an ancient traditional craft of Bihar

Recently while visiting a popular art market in Bangalore, I came across MADHUBANI PAINTINGS, an art form practiced in the Mithila region of Bihar....also called 'Mithila Paintings', they are delicate, intricate paintings which according to tradition, have originated from the time of Ramayana......

As explained to me by the craftsman, this is a traditional style of painting handed down through generations which is still practiced by whole families in Bihar. It was originally done on freshly plastered mud wall of huts but is now also done on cloth, handmade paper & canvas. The style of painting requires skill & needs a special technique. Cotton is wrapped around  a bamboo stick which serves as a brush & this is then dipped in vegetable colours which are got from natural resources like soot (black), turmeric (yellow), wood apple tree leaves (green) etc to create paintings with attention to detail!!!

The paintings are very vivid in their description & usually represent mythology & daily customs. The figures are drawn using double lines, there is no gap or space left empty & the paintings depict a sense of joyousness.
The artist I met, also did mention to me that the fish (symbol for love, fertility) is very lucky for them & is a common motif in their work & they also tend to spend days completing a single painting.....phew!!! no wonder they alone can understand the art & demand a price for it.....

Nek Chand's Rock Garden- my first look at the use of Mosaics in art

Well.....I've been a a bit lazy off late n have'nt been online for a long while. But wait, there are other reasons too.....no time (as most of us say nowadays :):), change of house, no internet connectivity (yep i know we are in the age of wi-fi n all that) etc. etc. But then I cannot procastinate anymore n gettin a taste of what it is to blog kept me wanting to come back to do more....
So this new yr, I kinda made the resolution to take some time out every other day to this n here I am.

There.....since we came to the end of my story......lemme tell you of this incredible man in India who has let his creativity come out in such a way as to pull him from relative obscurity to a place in the history books.

This man is Nekchand, u might have heard of him or might have not......but his works of art can only be likened to the passion of an artist wit no formal training in it......his works adorn a part of Delhi especially dedicated to it & they are made from recycled material ( which is the need of the hour) The rock garden needs to be seen to be believed & is definitely beautiful, done almost single handedly .....Wat a great gift to society & art!!!!