27 March 2010
The chair, brought its designer great fame by receiving a Bronze leaf award at an international design fair & for sure it was well deserved. No doubt it is something intricate & difficult to create, but it just shows what amazing things can be achieved by pushing one's boundaries!!!
26 March 2010
The Paintings & illustrations done on palm leaf, is an ancient art form practiced in many parts of India & is known by different names, Patta Chitra in Orissa & Olaichuvadi in Tamil Nadu. These have originated from the ancient method of communication, i.e writing on palm leaves at a time when paper was not invented. Gradually these illustrations developed into an art form itself.
The technique of Patta Chitra (Patta: wood, Chitra: drawing) involves sewing together rows of palm leaves which are folded in such a way as to make a pile. The paintings are then etched out on the palm leaf, using a sharp object on its surface. Ink mixed with turmeric & oil is then poured along the lines, thereby defining them. Although these paintings are mostly dichromatic (black & white), often different colours made of vegetable dyes are also used for a more colourful effect .
Orissa has a small village named Raghurajpur, also known as the artistic village which is famous for its traditional artisans who diligently follow the time honoured method of creating these pattachitra paintings on different media including cloth, & adapting it to contemporary styles thus keeping the art form very much alive. It is this dedication & devotion which makes the art form unique & one which cannot be replicated in any other part of the world!!!
24 March 2010
Salvador Dali (11/05/1904- 23/01/1989), was a famous Spanish painter whose surrealist works were known for their striking & bizarre images, mostly influenced by the Renaissance period. He was very prolific in his works & his repertoire included film, sculpture, and photography, in collaboration with a range of artists in a variety of media.
He studied art in Spain & France being influenced by the cubist movement & Picasso initially but later moving to surrealism. He also used both classical & mordern techniques in his work often using art as a strong political message. In his later years, his paintings were strongly influenced by science & he employed holography & optical illusions in his work being among the first artists to do so. Some artists even considered him an important influence on 'Pop art'. His free-thinking sometimes eccentric works, although based on surrealist philosophy angered many people of the time.
Throughout his life, Dali, in his ever-present long cape, walking stick, haughty expression, and upturned waxed mustache was known as an eccentric who displayed often bizarre behaviour, delivering lectures wearing a deep-sea diving suit, wearing a glass case containing a brassiere to a party, knocking over a projector at a film screening in a fit of anger. Although he gained fame & notoriety often for his behaviour rather than his work, he always justified it as a free-thinking act of surrealism but critics found in it, a desperate act of seeking fame & fortune.
23 March 2010
Ming Tang came up with this idea after a magnitude of 7.9 earthquake struck central China in May 2009 killing nearly 69,000 people. On learning that the Chinese Government planned to create about 1 million temporary homes, he designed a shelter that was cheap, easily produced & environment friendly & at the same time which can be folded into a variety of structurally sound shapes.
Going by the design of the house, Ming aims to have achieved what he set out to do thus creating houses that are dynamic & easily adaptable to different situations.
The concept utilises bamboo poles which are pre-assembled into rigid geometric shapes. This geometry provides each structure's integrity thus allowing a range of lightweight modular structures to be quicky assembled depending on the need & transported to their final destination when required. Once constructed, the shelters are then covered using re-cycled paper making the whole process eco-friendly.
There is no doubt that such a product will have a huge impact both in terms of the environment & also considering the fact that earthquakes are no more a rarity in different parts of the world!!
This traditional Indian dance form was first inspired from the sculptures of the ancient temples of Chidambaram particulary depicting the God Nataraja. Also contributing to its origin, were the sculptures & poses in Hindu temples & the description in various Hindu scriptures. Since it has mythological overtones, Bharatnatyam as a dance form set to Carnatic music was considered to be the ultimate embodiment of music in visual form, an act of devotion performed by 'Devadasi's' in temples.
Also called the fire-dance, the dance form manifests the metaphysical element of fire in the human body, thus resembling a dancing flame. It is actually a solo dance with two aspects, LASYA, the graceful feminine lines and movements, and TANDAVA (the dance of Shiva), the masculine aspect, which is identical to the Yin and Yang in the Chinese culture.
Bharatnatyam includes a lot of karanas (transitional movements), hastas (expressive hand gestures as a way of communication), adavus (dance steps) & elaborate eye & neck movements. This combined with jewellery, costumes & music in different languages, gives this classical dance form a variation & beauty that still manages to capture peoples imagination & withstand the test of time!!!!
19 March 2010
The Ajantha caves were partly created in the 1st century BC under the Satavahana dynasty & the remainder of the monuments were created in the 7th century under the Vakataka dynasty, ruled by emperor Harishena. The murals found here are considered to be the oldest monuments of painted art in India. At the end of his dynastic rule, these caves were abondoned & undisturbed for 1300 years, aided by the dense jungle growth & were re-discovered only in 1819 by the British army officer John Smith, whose name is visible on the walls even today.
The caves are beautiful to behold, because of their impressive architecture, paintings & the stories they tell. The whole structure is hewn into the surrounding rocks, including the pillars, the spacious courtyard, the pillard portico & the various vestibules.
The Ajantha & Ellora caves are a must see for their uniqueness & for the belief that true art can surely stand the test of time!!!
The name Blue pottery comes from the eye-catching Persian blue dye used to color the clay. The material used is quartz stone, for its distinctive properties & peculiar look. It is glazed and low-fired, making the articles very fragile. The blueness of this pottery is got by mixing oxide of cobalt into quartz. The traditional method of painting on the finished surface is not followed here thereby making the pottery all the more unique & distinctive. Other colours like white, Green (Oxide of copper), yellow, dark-blue, brown can also be used. The pottery sometimes looks semi- translucent & its design still reflects its persian/arab roots making use of floral patterns, animal motifs, etc in the works.
But no matter the commercialisation of this art-form, the ultimate purpose is to keep it alive & ensure its spread so that it benefits not only the local artisans but also those interested in the art itself!!!
18 March 2010
Cubism was an avant-garde art movement that changed European painting & sculpture & inspired similar movements in music & literature. The first branch of cubism, known as Analytic Cubism, was both radical and influential as a short but highly significant art movement between 1907 and 1911 in France. In its second phase, Synthetic Cubism, wherein the use of different media was involved (collages, textures etc.), the movement spread and remained vital until around 1919, when the Surrealist movement gained popularity.
Cubist artworks are flat 2-dimensional representations wherein objects are broken up, analyzed, and re-assembled in an abstracted form i.e instead of depicting objects from one viewpoint, the artist depicts the subject from a multitude of viewpoints to represent the subject in a greater context. Critics often dubbed it viciously as 'a field of broken glass'. There is no coherent sense of depth & it is more of a geometrically analytical approach to form and color where the object appears shattered into sharp-edged angular pieces.
The concept of cubism was more of Picasso's attempt to go against the normal, conventional way of representing objects based on what is viewed by the normal eye. He adopted the abstract way of looking at things but at the same time maintaining enough touch with reality to discern the objects. Although they were quite complicated to understand, this different view of things gradually seeped into the different forms of art.
This art form spread into different areas & evidence of this art can even be found in poetry (Wallace Stevens' "Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird"), books (The Makings of Americans by Getrude Stein) & sculptures (Bulgarian State monument near Shumen). All this goes to show that personal belief when unique, can push boundaries & although resisted, can bring about a much needed change!!!
17 March 2010
The work was surrounded by a lot of controversy even before it was made since it dealt with the conflict between Rivera's Marxist philosophy and Detroit as a developing industrial centre. The work also included religious icons albiet in a different setting & this caused it to be condemned by both the Catholic & Episcopalian clergy. For example, one panel on the North wall displays a Christ-like child figure with what appears to be a halo over its head. Surrounding it are livestock, a doctor and nurse giving the child a vaccination, and three men working on a lab experiment. This is believed to be a parody on the birth of Christ, with the scientists as the three wise men, and offended members of the religious community.
The controversy was not a deterrent but instead generated widespread publicity & enabled the work to become world famous. Rivera actually depicted the workers in harmony with their machines and thus as highly productive people. This view reflects both Karl Marx's begrudging admiration for the high productivity of capitalism and the wish of Edsel Ford, who funded the project, to have the Ford motor plant depicted in a favorable light.
Although I might go on & on about the work, its magificence needs to be seen to be believed, not only because of its theme & message but also because of the determination & creativity of the artist to single-handedly complete his work!!!
16 March 2010
Bob Marley was a Jamaican singer, songwriter & musician who became the face of reggae music & is credited with spreading both Jamaican music & the Rastafari movement worldwide.
He was a product of mixed racial parentage but always identified himself through his music & his beliefs as a black African. He was a part of the band 'Wailers' which produced some huge hits in the '60's such as "Get Up, Stand Up" and "I Shot the Sheriff". Eric Clapton made a hit cover of "I Shot the Sheriff" in 1974, raising Marley's international profile. His first hit outside Jamaica was the song "No Woman, No Cry", from the Natty Dread album. This was followed by his breakthrough album in the United States, Rastaman Vibration (1976), which spent four weeks on the Billboard Hot 100.
His convictons were reflected in everything that he did, including his songs & the most profound of his words were that uttered to his son Ziggy, "Money can't buy life.". This short little sentence exemplifies his life & work & although he was not without his shortcomings, Bob Marley, despite his untimely & unlikely death will be someone who has shown that despite adversity, it is possible to succeed!!!!
13 March 2010
I think my first exposure to art must have been associated with his name, because even though not knowing who he was, I had heard quite a bit about him & his work.
Picasso was a maverick who embodied many different styles in his work & together with Matisse, co-founded the Cubist form of art. He started off very early, painting realistically in his childhood & gradually evolved into an artist with new techniques & ideas. He rebelled against art as a studied discipline & chose his own path & methods. After finishing his art studies in Madrid, he moved to Paris where he struggled for quite sometime but eventually found wealthy patrons who believed in his work & he also made a lot of friends. He began to acquire a lot of wealth & estates but remained fiercely independent even refusing to cower down to the Germans during the 2nd World war when his art was not accepted.
This blog, is my personal tribute to a great artist, a man whose work has inspired me enough to take up art seriously & to think differently!!!
The instrument actually originated in the early 16th century in Italy (but of course!!!) & was made by Andrea Amati. It consists of simple pieces of wood which are glued together & strung with gut, nylon or steel. The instrument is played by a violinist who produces sound by drawing a bow across the strings & manipulating his fingers accordingly.
The violin, ever since its inception has been a much cherished & flexible instrument, used in all kinds of musical styles like baroque music, classical jazz, folk, pop, rock 'n roll etc. This just goes to show its versatility & thus can be called an orchestra in itself. Classical music & jazz used the violin as a solo instrument but popular music in the 1970's relied heavily on it as an accompaniment for an orchestra. Musicians like Bing Crosby & much recently the Corrs have still kept its influence alive even with the advent of electronic music.
Even in India, the violin is a very important part of South Indian classical music & has even been used in film music!!! Although I do find it complex & a bit daunting to learn, it would be a much cherished dream of mine to have done so!!
10 March 2010
Yakshagana is a traditional & classical form of theatre combining dance, music, dialogues, costumes & stage techniques with a distinct style & is dynamic in essence. It is believed to have originated in the 13th century & is usually performed by the people of South India i.e Karnataka. It might also have evolved from pre-classical music and theatre. It can be compared to a large extent to the Western tradition of Opera & some even believe that the dance form Bharatnatyam originated from it.
Yaksha-gana literally means the song (gana) of a Yaksha. Yakshas were an exotic tribe mentioned in the Sanskrit literature of ancient India.
The performances are such that there are large troupes of artists travelling through villages thus providing entertainment to the people & also managing to address them through social messages. This dance form is slowly gaining popularity & can even be found being practiced all over India & abroad.
But no matter how much more I describe & speak about it, nothing can match the feeling one gets after having actually viewed a live performance......I can only term it as exhilarating!!!!
09 March 2010
'To kill a Mocking bird' is a semi-autobiographical novel written by the author Harper Lee & published in the year 1960. It is a Pulitzer Prize winning novel which has become a part of American literature.
In brief, it is a story that tells of racial inequality & rape albiet with warmth & a bit of wry humor. The story is narrated from the viewpoint of the 6 yr old Scout Finch who lives with her older brother & widowed father, Atticus Finch. Scout gives an account of her neighbourhood & its daily goings-on & as children, her incredible curiosity & fascination with the hidden & reclusive neighbour. She is most often accompanied by her brother & friend in this. In the meanwhile, Atticus being a lawyer is entrusted with the task of defending a black man accused of raping a young white girl. The trial does'nt go the right way & although the black man is innocent, he is wrongly convicted by the predominantly white jury. This fact is realised by the children who though knowing the right from the wrong, watch helplessly as the wrong triumphs!!!
For details, you will have to read the book but what actually struck me about this story, is the title which is aptly described when Atticus gives air rifles to his children & tells them that although they can "shoot all the bluejays they want", they must remember that "it's a sin to kill a mockingbird" because, all that the bird does is give pleasure by its song & never harms other birds, thus killing it would only be killing its innocence.
The book was made into an award winning movie in 1962 by the same name starring actor Gregory Peck which was a huge hit & is true to the book. Basically the story is about innocence & rightness, courage & compassion. The narration is brilliant & though I have read it innumerable times, I keep going back to it again & again because its message although redundant, remains relevant even today!!!!
Papier-mâché (French: chewed up paper) is actually an object made by gluing together pieces of paper soaked in a wet paste i.e glue, starch or adhesive, & applied on a base/ frame till it is dry . The basic principle involved is to make three dimensional objects out of paper pulp. It was originally done as a low cost alternative to carved wood & was quite well received.
The wet paper prepared is placed on a base surface and allowed to dry slowly. The crafted object becomes solid when the paste dries. Once dried, the resulting material can be cut, sanded and/or painted, and waterproofed by painting with a suitable water repelling paint. Adding oil of cloves reduces mold development & also makes the product long-lasting.
In recent times, they have been used to make large temporary sculptures & floats & are also used in theatrical props. Many contemporary artists like John Connell & Kiki Smith use this medium in their sculptures.
The advent of plastics has no doubt restricted its use, but it has still managed to survive & continues capturing the imagination of people everywhere, especially me!!!
08 March 2010
The artist called this series of furniture 'Harvest' & it not only makes use of unconventional materials but is also beautiful, harmonious & merges the interior with the exterior world.
By using this kind of furniture, it might help to relieve the guilt we feel when using wood from cut & felled trees. At the same time it also helps us give back something to nature in exchange for what we have taken from it!!!!