Sunday, November 27, 2016

Bits and Pieces on my Table

1) Rub honey into the night's back,
2) Make sure the moon is fed,
3)Bathe the ocean,
4) Warm sing the trees.
            ~ Tend

My mother resembled a character out of an Isabel Allende novel. she was one of those Piscean/Aquarians who would often declare that she could see visions of things that happened in a place, of incidents that might have happened if... She would periodically move heaven and earth so that the world around her could fit into her visions irrespective of the disruptions it caused. 
One thing she did prove right was the fact that she would die and some five years before her death she went about clearing out the books in her large cellar with the energy characteristic of every mission she undertook. The result was that I was given some very beautiful old books

I treasure these books for their beauty except one, a vintage PR exercise about Queen Victoria. Because of the subject matter, I've decided it can be sacrificed in the name of art. The paper is so old it practically disintegrates at times but the cherubic faces of the little royal princes is perfect for cutting up and playing with. The resulting compositions have become bizarre worlds within the pages of my new Moleskine sketchbook and I have been taken aback by what has emerged. Perhaps they are comparable to my mother's visions? In this case, I am thankful they are only on paper.

These pictures I made during the last two days are probably a progression of The Red Book project which I did years ago. They have turned out more sophisticated and muted compared to an earlier cutting up of Kings and Queens within The RedbookI have included a picture of it below.

Deep down inside, I'm mad … we're all mad here, really. 
If you've read this far, you're probably about to go nuts right now.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

The Find

Recently, a friend who is an avid traveller and who is usually known for understating things, gushed about The Road to Oxiana, a book by Robert Byron that he had read innumerable times. I was intrigued at his enthusiasm and wished for a copy. While the immediate thing to do in this click of a button day and age is to order from Amazon, I still prefer to take a different route, via a second hand book store.

After a meeting with a client at MG Road I dropped by at Bookworm and looked through the travel section. This beautiful blue hardbound copy was just lying there waiting to be found and taken. This is serendipity.

The Road to Oxiana is considered the greatest of all pre-war travel books. I quote Paul Fussell, "What Ulysses is to the novel between the wars, and what The Waste Land is to poetry, The Road to Oxiana is to the travel book."

I will probably add an excerpt or two here after I read the book, but for now, here is a review of Robert Byron:

Friday, November 11, 2016

To Rise Above

"We forget about the spaciousness
above the clouds
but it’s up there.
The sun’s up there too.
When words we hear don’t fit the day,
when we worry
what we did or didn’t do,
what if we close our eyes,
say any word we love
that makes us feel calm,
slip it into the atmosphere
and rise?
Creamy miles of quiet.
Giant swoop of blue."

~ Naomi Shihab Nye

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Out in the Garden

since the thing perhaps is to eat flowers
and not to be afraid.
                           ~ e.e.cummings

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Dark and Stormy

These two images are preparatory drawings made for a book cover.They have nothing whatsoever to do with America.I dislike America thinking that it is the centre of the universe and I find it tiresome that people make it seem so. The best statement someone said to me in these two days is: Fuck T, now let's get on with ourselves.
After a long time I got to work with an art director whom I really like and respect and who gets the best out of me. Her responses are prompt and she knows what she wants. It was she who suggested I make some sketches first so that there was an option of clouds to choose from. We were all pleased with the way it turned out. While I cannot show the final cover yet, I am quite happy to share these with my blog readers.

Thundercloud and Bare Tree

I had to remove the foreground of mountains to replace on a different background. When I peeled off the mountain, the Fevistick and remnants of charcoal ended up producing this very interesting texture.I drew and cut out a tree and placed it over to make an image. I love the variety of textures that has resulted in this happy accident.The best surprises happen while playing.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

The Green Bathing Pond

My host told me that outside the cities, the people of Kerala still bathed in rivers and ponds. She told me about her great aunt who walked down a path from her house to bathe every morning in her own personal bathing pond. Seeing my wide-eyed enthrallment, arrangements were made to take me there, to see the ancestral home and the great aunt's beautiful bathing pond.

This was the best and most memorable experience of my visit to Kerala.  

All the chatter in your mind suddenly stops as your brain cells get taken over by green undergrowth.
And then the experience of bathing here which must be some sort of baptismal renewal every single morning.


And then I flew back to Banglur.


Back to my Kerala posts once more.

Since the big synagogue at Jew Town was closed on Sabbath, my host insisted and took me to another smaller synagogue tucked away inside a village, the presence of which very few people will know. On the way by taxi, through the unremitting green beauty of the Kerala countryside, my host would tap me on the shoulder and point out, and in the midst of the verdure I would see structures like elaborate iced wedding cakes, complicated spaceships and Walt Disney fairy tale castles. These were churches (gasp) and if I hadn’t been told they were those, I would never have guessed.

The walk to the synagogue was lovely, we got a glimpse of village life and we saw old houses like this one above.

A Kerala king gave the Jews some land, and this was a pillar to mark that, to say something like ‘From here is yours’.

This is the walk along the road to the synagogue.
But the Jews who worshiped there also came by boat along a river at the end of this road.

And the beautiful synagogue, maintained by the government as a monument.An enthusiastic and friendly Hindu guide explained the ways of worship within the synagogue to us. No worship takes place here in this particular one however.
Enjoy the pictures :)

Friday, October 28, 2016

A Day of Drawing

One of those ENTIRE DAY OF DRAWING days. This time a second visit to see A.Ramachandran's exhibition. 10 am sharp in the morning until 5pm. Sketchbook and foldable sketching stool. Fortified with ammunition: None of that sugar water NGMA canteen tea. I brought my own masala chai in a flask. See the reflection of the beautiful trees from the campus inside my cup. At the end of it all I feel a rejuvenating kind of tiredness which is such a wonderful feeling to have.

The friendly security is just so damn bloody strict when it comes to taking photographs. They keep an eye on you all the blessed time so I managed to sneak this one above as a reflection through the window. 
I risked it all with this photograph below during that one brief second when security wasn't looking. As long as there is no flash, it is all right in the best of museums. Will I be hauled up and reprimanded severely? Will I be banned from future exhibitions? It remains to be seen.But I am doing this for the love of art and as a service to society (hand on my heart when I say this). And what is an artist anyway if she doesn't break a few rules?

This is my absolute favourite painting - A village wedding under a Gulmohar tree.The folds of the pink cloth travel from the groom towards the bride in the center and the lines flow upward into the flowering tree.

In the foreground you can see my kutti Made in China foldable stool on which I sit on to sketch. It created a biiiig sensation at the gallery. One by one the security guards silently came over to stare at it intently. Then one of them called a director type of person."We must have seating here sir" he implored, "See, people are actually resorting to bringing their own seating!" The director said, "Haan, haan" and went away.

When you walk up the ramp to the first floor, you are met with the large beautiful Selfie Mirror. It is a ritual for all women to stand in front of it,adjust their hair, take a selfie and then go inside the gallery. Of course the men do it too, but they do so quickly and surreptitiously so that they won't be jeered at.
So this is me, older, wiser and wearing my favourite faded cotton t-shirt and intense Getting the Selfie Right expression. Had I worn a faded Khadi kurta instead, I would have definitely fit into the Kannada artist look which I've managed to steer clear off till now. But one acquires the look with time. First grey hair, next the crushed clothes, then big paunch and finally the khadi. By the next visit I should get the last two right. I might even end up making strange work like the rest of them.

Do take a look at this early post: