Research one artist of your choice and prepare an 5 sentence description of the artist that you will present to us next class. Include some information but I am interested in your opinion of the artist.
Examples of artists: Raza, Vaikuntam, MF Hussain, Bharti Kher, Subodh Gupta, or any other artist from the past or present
Any questions? Please ask.
Is it OK if I write on Auguste Rodin, the French sculptor?
Absolutely, N. Look forward to it.
Raja Ravi Varma is probably the most sought after painter even in Modern India and his paintings are those which an ordinary man (read non artist) can easily connect with. The oil paintings come out lively and there are hardly any who won’t understand what the painter is trying to convey. The choice of colors and the story of the painting are exquisite and did truly deserve those european and american awards. What does intrigue me is was there anything else Raja Ravi Varma wanted to convey in his paintings? They are always historic, figurative and were contemporary in nature. I feel there is a bit of repetition in rendering even though the women in his work are very lovely.
Nice analysis. Your question is very insightful, especially relative to what we spoke about with abstract expressionism. I’ve often thought that we Indians tend to separate out emotions rather effectively. Even among mathematicians, who are famously eccentric in the West. If you compare them to Ramanujam, he was a pious man but a genius mathematician. Perhaps Ravi Varma was like that. Nice work! Shoba
A few months back I was in the Padmanabhaswamy temple in Trivandrum and noticed some shops outside selling Ravi Varma reproductions. I saw some stunning pieces on display – capturing women in different moods/poses etc. I guess these were women from Kerala and drawn from his daily life – but he managed to capture them in a very sensual and ethereal way. At the same time they were ordinary women – very real and so tangible but captured in beautiful moods. I always thought Ravi Varma was a brilliant painter and associated him with paintings from the scriptures ( and also the lady with the lamp type pictures) – but didn’t know he had another side to him. Couldn’t find those picture on the internet – so maybe I should do some research next time I’m in Trivandrum.
Guys here are my thoughts on Subodh Gupta’s work. Feel free to share your thoughts on this.
Subodh Gupta is one of India’s most fascinating sculptors. I first came across his work in an airline’s in-flight magazine. His creations made with ordinary household steel items have an earthy Indian touch yet a global aesthetic appeal. The first work of his that I saw was Spill (http://www.saatchi-gallery.co.uk/artists/artpages/subodh_gupta_bucket.htm) – a huge bucket made of ordinary household stainless steel vessels, with steel spilling out of one end of the bucket, instead of water. It is fascinating to see the impact of Subodh’s small town upbringing on the themes he chooses. He has done a well acclaimed piece on migration of rural folks to urban India – called ‘Across Seven Seas’ which sold for 3.4 Crores in the Saffronart online art auction. Some of his other highly acclaimed work includes ‘A Very Hungry God’ (http://www.cabein.com/cabein/?p=802) which is a gigantic skull made of steel buckets, UFO (http://www.cabein.com/cabein/?p=802) made out of steel pots and a cycle rickshaw (http://www.artnet.com/magazineus/reviews/robinson/robinson12-8-06_detail.asp?picnum=10)with steel spilling out of it.
His work is clearly in your face and you can hate it or love it but you cannot ignore it. I find his work fascinating because his themes are very Indian in nature – rural migration, kitchen items, and typical Indian transport – Bajaj scooter & cycle rickshaw, Ambassador car, Mumbai taxi etc. The earthiness of his work reaches out and touches the small-town boy in me and the stark simplicity of his creations – only steel with no relief, shows his inner angst, leaving me waiting eagerly for his next bizarre creation.
Thanks for posting the links. I agree with you on most counts, that Subodh Gupta uses the “earthy Indian touch with global aesthetic appeal.” Do you think Spill would suit the IIM campus? Or would it be too in your face, as you say? I wonder what sealant he uses to make sure his pieces don’t rust when it rains, etc. I love his work too, but I wonder…. Now that he is successful with the whole vessels/bartan material, will he move on to some other theme, like Picasso’s Blue Period which ended? Or do you think he is matlabi enough to say, Hey, this stuff sells so why mess with success?
Hmmm.. Interesting questions. IIMB has an understated natural beauty defined by its greenery and natural underdone walls. As opposed to many other B schools, IIMB never advertises and believes in building credibility through word of mouth. So, Spill seems too overt for the IIMB facilities as well as the brand. This may be more appropriate for an engineering college – to symbolize an amalgamation of India’s engineering capabilities with typical Indian creative ‘jugaad’ to make a jaw-dropping creation with global appeal.
Subodh Gupta’s inner restlessness has already made him experiment with multiple creative mediums – photgraphy, performance & video. In sculpture, his works like ‘Faith Matters’ & ‘Common Man’ are pure white in colour and have an ethereal beauty while still retaining some of his characteristic whackiness. His works like ‘Wall’ – made of branches & roots, ‘Potato ring’ – made of bronze and ‘I Believe You’ – a heap of rubber chappals convince me that here is one artist who will continue to push his creative boundaries and continue to shock us with his creative leaps.
I will certainly get back on my favourite artist based on our last class discussions.
Here is my piece on Auguste Rodin (and Paris inevitably) that I had written for the last class. Would invite your’s and others’ comments.
Auguste Rodin and Paris
When I first looked at ‘The Thinker’ at his museum in Paris, I got hooked to it. It had a powerful attraction in terms of a deep frozen moment which I could relate to instantly.
‘The Kiss’, ‘The Gates of Hell’ are definitely my favourites.
What I like about Rodin’s work is its essential departure from the idea that sculpture should only be used to capture something thats agreed to be eternal or mythological. Rodin brings (I use present tense because I consider his idea, his genius to be eternal – we will always be seeing them in one form or another) ephemarility to sculpture. This marriage of hard bronze and marble which symbolize permanence, with the ephemerality of the subjects and their sensualities that he depicted in that media, is something that I consider his genius, particularly so given what was happening as sculpture predominantly at his time. This exotic marriage makes me stand still before his sculptures and keep on looking at them. In each of our lives, we go through these emotions day in and day out like a never-ending roller-coaster ride. And unless one gets out of this cycle, there is no escape from these emotions. And eternally there could be human beings who are at various levels of their evolution who keep going through these intense emotions. To that end, these are eternal even though fleeting. I think thats what Rodin captures.
If I think Rodin, apart from sculpture, I think Paris, and how it incubates creative geniuses. Paris has Art in its air, everywhere. After a climb to Montmartre, gasping for breath, one could actually breathe Art! Its suffocating yet liberating. That’s one of the reasons why I love Victor Hugo for his Les Miserables. His creative genius, through that magnificently vivid and immaculately imaginative work, enables me to relive my days of roaming in the streets of Paris. His work is so vivid that I could actually see Javert chasing Jean Valjean!
I like the way you have brought together many disparate elements. And your language when you describe Rodin is very poetic. I think you’ve hit upon a very important point about Rodin when you say that he connects permanence with ephemerality. But that is true only of his most famous works that you reference above. I went to the Rodin Museum website just because I was intrigued by your comments and he has done historical and mythological figures too– Adam, etc. Do you find his style repetitive? Or do you think he has just found his artistic voice and stuck with it?
If you love Rodin as I think you do, I would love it if you delve deeper into this concept and find other artists who are like him. Give me some names.
John Constable . English painter, ranked with Turner as one of the greatest British landscape artists. He is reagraded as a great figure of English romanticism. He is best known for his paintings of the English countryside, particularly those representing his native valley of the River Stour . His painting truly depict the Nature Study
I personally love to paint still life and nature study in Oil, Water and pastels“. I love Constable Oil paintings because I see my passion or desire for nature study in his paintings. Its like “Just sit in the nature, observe it and paint”. Some key highlights or attractiveness about his paintings are:
• The naturalism of his work. The effects of light and shadow, with which he attempts to suggest the transient qualities of the scene, to depict what he called the chiaroscuro of nature”.
• His paintings depicts the atmospheric effects of changing light in the open air, specially the movement of clouds across the sky, all this depicts his excited delight at these phenomena. Clouds are the most prominent component.
• As mentioned , with regard to the clouds, he seems to be determined to become more scientific and his cloud depiction seems to record the atmospheric conditions.
• His attention to transitory weather effects can be seen in his cloud effects.
To make or depict the shifting flicker of light and weather he abandoned fine traditional finish, catching the sunlight in Splash of pure white or yellow, and the drama of storms with a rapid brush.
I have painted (In other words tried to replicate two of his paintings). One I completed and gifted it to a close friend of mine and other is half done. These paintings are The Hay Wain and Flat ford mill. Both I liked because.
• Convey a vigour and expressiveness
• His use of the palette knife as well as the brush to apply paint, and his extensive use of touches of white colour to give a glittering surface texture.
I personally feel that his paintings poetic approach to nature paralleled in spirit that of his contemporary, the poet Wordsworth.
The have sent more details in my mail .
Sumit: Yours is a brave choice in today’s art world, which seems to focus on abstract art. I would very much like it if you go through Saffronart or any of the other art websites and find a couple of current painters who are painting in Constable’s style. I had the privilege of seeing an original. It is quite sublime. I like your analysis of why you like Constable and especially like the clouds bit. Here is what I want you to think about. Say you are standing in an art gallery with a bunch of snooty art collectors who are going on and on about current abstract artists. When you say you love Constable, they look at you with mild shock. You feel the need to explain yourself. All the observations you make above are good ones, but I want the killer app. Tell me something that will silence even the non-landscape lovers. This will have to be some historical trivia about Constable, something like, “Constable really was the father of….xyz,” or “Constable really started the craze for cloud paintings.” Something like that. Look up wikipedia or art history books about Constable. Thanks. Also realize that I am pushing you because I see something in your work, which by the way, is quite lovely. You should bring the originals to class.
Manjit Bawa – when I first scanned a few of his paintings my reaction was “o! even my seven year old could draw such coarse figures”. But that was before the class on “Art”. Post class, “feeling” and not “analyzing”, another look at the same paintings helped me connect with the soul of the artist.
Crimson red, mustard yellow, sunflower ochre, lily violet and other bold colors made me feel the vibrancy hidden deep beneath the serene outward personality of Manjit Bawa. Like figurative artists, he drew human and animal figures inspired from mythology but he knew where to stop to give an impressionist image rather than baroque like finesse. The coarse and loud work makes his work uncomplicated and easy to connect with. I was cheerfully mesmerized with his lively depiction of Ranjha, Krishna, Kali, and many other figures from Indian folk and mythology till I saw “After 84” and “Kaun Mara”. Anti-sikh riots of 1984 and Babri Masjid demolition of 1992 hurt Manjit Bawa so much that intense pain of his heart overflowed to the canvas in his signature style.
I like your analysis very much. Especially the baroque-impressionist bit. I want to ask a few questions.
1. Does Bawa’s work remind you of Mahishasura? If so, how come Mehta made it bigger than Bawa? Is it because of talent or market forces?
2. In Wikipedia, I read that the documentary on Bawa won the national award. If you happen across it, perhaps we can watch it.
3. I am impressed that you brought across the how to stop idea. Could he have stopped later than he did? In other words, did he stop at the right time, you think.
Thanks for picking an artist I had almost forgotten.
I got attracted towards Madhubani paintings when one of my clients asked me to design his lounge on Madhubani paintings theme.
Its distinct style is what makes this art form different from the others and impress the connoisseurs of art.
The artists behind Madhubani paintings are women from Mithila , a place in Bihar which is home to this unique form of women’s art . Many generations have contributed to the survival of this art.
What I like about these paintings is the simplicity and the innocence of the form. These paintings are rich in colour and expression, depict the characters of Hindu mythologies, the royal courts and social events, but still can’t be restricted to the Baroque art form because these paintings have abstract like figures with bulging eyes, protruding or jolting nose.
It is the innocence and the simplicity with which these artists express themselves in these paintings has made this art form survive for centuries and transcend without dilution.
You have brought up a topic that is close to my heart. I have so many questions on this topic and would be interested in your answers.
1. We have so much talent in the folk arts in our country. How come they aren’t recognized? Is it because we don’t encourage “star” painters in the folk arts like Manjit Bawa or MF Hussain? I don’t know a single Madhubani painter’s name, for instance. Is this the right method?
2. You can argue that if artists are doing art in a pure way, like you describe above, they don’t need commercial recognition and fame. Is this the right approach?
3. You have an artistic sensibility. Would you start a folk art gallery and combine your management experience with your appreciation of the arts?
4. Should Madhubani art change with the times? Or remain unchanged.
Let’s talk about this in the weeks to come. Nice job!!
Also, Shruti. Thanks to you, I discovered this website of an artisan right here in Bangalore. You’ll have to tell me if she is good.
I have chosen to write about Jamini Roy’s art, which depicts the painter’s love and affection for Indian life and Hindu Gods. His paintings are figurative and the features are very sharp. Many of his paintings bring out the life of Indian Rural life or the life of his era. A variety of colour combination has been used; I think he might have been making his own shades of colour by mixing different colours. However, he uses only 3 to 4 colours in one painting that means before starting he might be choosing a theme, then use of colour and then start painting.
The painting which I liked the most is “Mother & Child”. This is a theme on which he made many paintings but I am talking out the “Mother Teresa” like lady and child. This painting is very different from his own style as there are no features of mother / child are shown. The use of light makes the painting more interesting as it completely covers mother’s face and brings out the crying child in front.
I think his art will be liked by many art lovers who love Indian rural life in the paintings. Many art houses choose the same theme given a chance to showcase their collection in front of westerns.
His creations seem to be a continuation of ancient Indian mural paintings.
Thanks for clarifying about the Mother Teresa painting. Because I went and searched for the Mother and Child Jamini Roys and found several. I absolutely love your choice. I think we have found common ground between my love of abstract painting and yours which is in between figurative and abstract. You have picked a sophisticated painting. If you like this work, why don’t you delve some more into the Roy style. Perhaps check out some mural paintings.
Vincent van Gogh
Vincent van Gogh was a Dutch painter known for his unprecedentedly vivid use of colours and creation of emotional impact by exaltation of the mundane, routine and humdrum life. His paintings would depict a child eating an orange (The Child with Orange), a poor family at supper (The Potato Eaters) and At Eternity’s Gate, to name a few. He was a post-Impressionist painter who retained the aspects of vivid colouration of Impressionism while bringing in precision of geometric forms of the objects painted, and usage of arbitrary colours to convey the essence of the object painted rather than its physiognomy. For instance, van Gogh’s orange in Child with Orange is not orange in colour but is deep red, and so is the rosy cheek of the little girl holding it. The emphasis in the painting is on the mood of the girl who is happy and rosy, and hence the choice of deep red. But central to his style of painting was painting not just the object(s) in view, but also, so to say, their “halo”. To Vincent everything on earth not merely confined in its physical boundaries, but extended beyond to express their essence. To paint a flower in all its finest details was not Vincent’s style: Instead he wanted to also express what the flower’s raison d’être is, what is its unique in the mystery of existence. For instance, his magnum opus Starry Night, depicts the nocturnal sky in all its splendour, with sky flooded with blue colour and stars shining yellow with amorphous yellow hallow spiralling out of them. The bright crescent moon in painted in orange with yellow hallow around it and its light gradually moving in spirals until it fades into the colour if the sky. Although all this has elements of exaggeration, the emotive impact of it is immense with the viewer being transported utterly into a nightly scene. The sky is not shown as a static firmament, as we are used to viewing it, but as a flux of waves, dark and intense lights, and thus as an alive cosmic entity. Richness and exuberance of life with deep brush strokes and strong colours lend more vitality to his expression.
His early paintings, those that he created in Netherlands, his native land, had palette consisted mainly of sombre earth tones, particularly dark brown, and are markedly different from the vivid coloration that distinguishes his later works. He lived with the coal miners in his early youth working for a Christian parish and preaching edicts of Christianity. Moved by the conditions of the colliers he lived with them and tried to mitigate their suffering. Being part of the people at the grass roots, and living their life, instead of merely observing them, lent the realism and humanity present in his paintings.
Your critique is very eloquent. I have nothing to add. Nice job. Thanks for bringing up the halo effect. I hadn’t realized it. When researching it, I came across this website.
Since you have a fairly mature understanding of Van Gogh’s works, I want you to make “connections,” next. I want you to learn to link his works to other art periods such as in the website, and also to other forms (music as in Starry Night). I want you to be able to look at something and say, “That is very Van Goghesque.”
Dear Ms Narayan,
Let me be very honest here. I am not a great fan of modern art and I didnt see much meaning in the paintings that you showed us in class the other day. At max modern art like some super size scupltures generate a feeling of awe in me. I am a nature lover and sincerely believe that nature is the greatest painter and sculptor. All human art forms are inferior depictions of nature. One has to see the beauty of Gaumukh (the source of the Ganga) and the Aum Parvat (in the Kailash Mansarovar circuit) to really get a sense of what I am talking about. No form of human art can come close to what nature has achieved.
In consistency with my love for nature, forest and mountain trekking, I have an interest in folk painting and handicrafts. I believe that folk art is very close to nature and very simple to understand. One doesn’t have to strain his mind to try and understand what meaning these art forms convey. Not only do folk paintings depict the nature and beauty of the place and the daily lives of these tribes, they make very beautiful decorative pieces. One such form of folk painting is the Warli Paintings. The Warli tribe is indigenous to the state of Maharashtra and is found even today in the northern suburbs of Mumbai. The word “Warli” come from the word “warla” which means the piece of land.
The origin of the Warli Art go back to 2500 or 3000 BC. These are extremely rudimentary wall paintings using very basic graphic vocabulary like circles, triangles and squares. The shapes in Warli Paintings normally come from the observation of nature and each sketch symbolizes the influence of nature. In Warli Paintings, the circle represents the sun and the moon, the triangle derived from mountains and pointed trees, the square indicates a sacred enclosure or a piece of land. Each piece of Warli Painting has a theme. The central motif in the Warli ritual paintings usually have male gods and scenes portraying hunting, fishing and farming, festivals and dances, trees and animals.
I have seen Warli Paintings in house of tribals during by trekking trips in the forests of Tungareshwar (north of Mumbai). Earlier Warli painting used to be etched out on walls of Warli houses only, but these days, one can find cheap imitation of Warli paintings almost everywhere. I have seen these Warli Painting copies in all sorts of objects of daily use – Vases, Mugs, T-shirts, Kurtas, furnishings etc. These paintings are so easy to make that the printing industry has made use of these designs and put this form of art into mass production. However, one can find authentic Warli Paintings (hand made by Warli Tribals themselves) in art collection stores in Mumbai and around the country.
I love your post. I always enjoy it when someone says that they hate modern art because all the men in my family do the same :) They have no patience with all this “high falutin” stuff as they call it. That said, I want you to convert your reverence for nature into a sophisticated cultivation of the arts. If you are inspired by Gaumukh and Aum Parvat, look at Japanese nature paintings. Read some Haiku. Make connections with Ansel Adams’ photographs. I want you to link your obvious love of Warli with global themes so that even if you meet a client or colleague who has no idea about Warli, you will be able to speak eloquently (like you have done above) about your love of nature and its beauties. Nice job!
Rabindranath Tagore- Great Author, Poet, musician and painter.
Surprisingly he started his painting works at the late age of 63 years. Maybe because initially he doubted his ability as a painter, which can be seen from his letter to his son after his first art exhibition in Europe. In the letter, he says “From my experience of my painting exhibitions in Europe, I realize, I can rely on my ability on painting”.
I feel his art can be best described as Impressionist art form. Although most of his paintings are human faces, but they are not portrait of any particular person. After looking at his art one gets a feeling that he is trying to say something else which is there in his mind. Being a great author and poet, no wonder he must he having a thousand creative thoughts which he tries to explain through his paintings. Moreover the period when did his paintings was the peak of the Indian freedom movement. This effect can be seen in his paintings as most of the faces give a sad look and gives a feeling of the oppressed people of that time. Most of his paintings don’t have too many colors but have a good use of brown, black and yellow. What was surprising to me was that because of his predominant use of these colors a lot many people believe that he had defect with his color vision.
Thanks for bringing this Nobel Laureate to my attention. I knew Tagore started late but didn’t realize it was 63. There’s hope for all of us. I am not sure if his art is impressionist though. Look up Clyfford Still, particularly his 1959 painting
If you like Tagore, you will like a lot of the modern Indian painters.
Thanks for letting me cover somewhat familiar territory with David Lynch and his movies.
“Don’t ask what is it; rather ask/state how it makes you feel” – your decree on understanding art registered emphatically with me. It also gave me an excellent alibi for discussing Lynch with some of my friends, who almost never get the point of the movie, precisely because they are always looking for one. Lynch’s movies are engrossing beyond words. They are all about feeling. His movies invoke multitude of impulses (mostly frightening) as the viewer gets absorbed in a web of animated frames transitioning ever so slowly with an eerie (yet fabulous) background score.
I discovered Lynch’s work accidently while looking for a rock video which was featured in one of his movies `The Lost Highway`. I ended up watching the movie and it was like nothing that I had seen before. Typical of Lynch movies, you couldn’t single out a plot – at best you could begin to imagine a few hazy plots hidden in stark imagery and sound.
Stylistically, his movies can best be described as surrealistic or dream analysis. Lynch studied art and is also a professional visual artist, which clearly influenced his style. Surrealism is not the only style that is attributed to Lynch’s work –film Noir, horror and mystery film are all part of now famous Lynch(ism) signature. Lost Highway and Mulholland Drive are two of his most surrealistic creations. While personally I love Lost Highway, it is often accused of being too long and excessive; Mulholland Dr is unequivocal in its use of dream analysis and surrealism themes. Many regarded Mulholland Dr as Lynch’s best work along with his 1980 film The Elephant Man. Lynch has an ardent cult following (includes yours truly) and has received critical acclaim (4 Oscar nominations and many European awards), however he has never achieved mainstream recognition owing to the subject matter of his films. Almost all of Lynch’s movies are violent and deeply disturbing. Part of the reason is that he grew up in small town America and liberally uses small time crime, which was mostly relegated to the fringes, into his screenplay.
Watching a Lynch film is like being in one of the central character’s dream. Akin to our discussion about an abstract artist knowing when to stop, Lynch’s challenge is to know what to show & weave in the screenplay and what to leave open. He does that with such finesse. He entices you in, particularly to one or two of his central characters, almost to a point where you start to think (or dream) like that person. He enhances this dream-like feeling through use of esoteric characters (such as Mystery Man in Black in Lost Highway or Dean Stockwell’s character in Blue Velvet), novel use of props (best featured in Blue Velvet) and a haunting soundtrack (composed by Angelo Badalamenti always).
Along with Stanley Kubrick and Romain Polanski, I find Lynch to be one of most inventive acts in English language cinema. The best way to describe a Lynch movie is to think of a horrifying dream, which in the back of your mind you would want to dream again!!
I am speechless! Movies will be your final project/exam.
Just as it will be antiques for Kavita.
One of the things I hope to do in the next few classes is figure out each person’s passion and allot it to them as a final project.
Thank you for this excellent analysis of Lynch, much of which I didn’t know.
You should meet MK Raghavendra. He screens offbeat movies including Lynch every Saturday at 4 PM in Central Bangalore. He speaks like you and you both will hit it off. I’ll give you the details in class.
Thanks Ms Narayan.
I would love to be in touch with Mr. Raghavendra. Please do connect me to him.
My favorite artist is Jamini Roy. Although his art is quite figurative, the beauty of his paintings is its simplicity and distinctiveness. In an era when most of his contemporaries were influenced by western art forms, his drawings used to draw inspirations from his own culture – the living folk and tribal art. Looking at some of his famous pictures such as “mother and the child”, “three pujarinis”, or even “cat with the prawn”, I could perhaps connect to the state of his mind, something obvious yet close to our daily life. His art doesn’t vouch for perfection yet the moment that it captures, helps me appreciate the vividness of the expression born of conceptual clarity. I feel one of his biggest achievement is this very fact that he still stands out, like the famous Baroque paintings, through this uniqueness, amidst all the various forms of art.
I know we talked about regionalism in our class, so don’t mistake me for saying this. Your name suggests a Bengali connection and I feel that you should take ownership of the Bengali painters like Jamini Roy Jatin Das. You could become an expert in this genre and it could not only give you pleasure but it could make you a specialist in the field. I like the connection you made with Baroque. I wish you would think a little deeper about his “conceptual clarity.” It is such a broad phrase. You can make it specific.
I found Jatin Das to be an amazing artist. Jatin not only is a prominent figurative painter, but also is a graphic artist, sculptor, muralist, and a poet. Most of his works focus on man-woman relationship in various situations and emotions. I came across this painting by Jatin- Working Women II, Oil on Canvas (1989) – a great representation of his work.
The painting depicts the communication between two working women. I liked this painting as it captures the expressions and emotions of both the women in very detail. The background of painting is a mixture of red and yellow, while the upper half of the painting is reddish then the red gradually blends with the yellow towards the lower part of the painting. The change in the color- planes in the background is visible in most of his paintings. The body colors of both the woman are black, which contrasts with the mix of the red and yellow background color. Also, the pink brush strokes to highlight the border of the sari of the woman on the left are stunning.
What a lovely painting you have picked. I love it. Since you have a sensibility that I can relate to, I am going to push you further. You have described the painting very well. I want you to focus on the mood as well. Please think about the mood it conveys and use ‘action words.’ For example, I think the painting conveys a lot of movement. You can almost hear the women talking to each other. It is very vibrant. Things like that. Thank you for picking one of my favourite painters.
Here are my thoughts on the work of Thota Vaikuntham
My roots are from a farming family in Tamil Nadu, so the hot afternoons in summer vacations were spent in siesta or in casually looking at Tanjore paintings that adorned the walls in the family homes of relatives. While I had limited knowledge of this specific art form, one cannot but be awed by the intricate workmanship involved in Tanjore Paintings. These paintings and their usage of gold communicate a sense of divinity, exclusivity and contrast to the simple surroundings where these paintings were hung.
I feel the work of artist Thota Vaikuntam can be well examined by contrasting it with Tanjore Paintings. A Tanjore painting is a celebration of divinity with the streaks of gold reflecting the sheen and aura of the deities in heaven. In stark contrast the work of Vaikuntum elevates reality by capturing the life on earth of the worshippers. This painter from Andhra Pradesh, captures the distinctiveness and moods of rural settings of Telangana as effectively as a Tanjore Painting captures divinity. The painting, using bright primary colors or charcoals, accentuates the characters bringing an amazon-like look of the protagonists . Vaikuntam explains that natural colors are far more prevalent in the rural settings and hence shies away from mixed colors. His paintings are very effective in capturing the mood of a lazy afternoon chat, the larger than life Telangana women wearing red bindis add a sense of depth to the painting and transport you, albeit briefly, to those annual village sojourn to grandpa’s home during school summer vacations.
I started to look at Vaikuntam’s work with a realization that his work of art is a blend of form and color. One may ask , where is color in the work of charcoal? But some of Vaikuntam’s charcoal work is also color because I am sure he made a conscious choice on the shades of black to depict the visuals. In his painting works, he brings the stark contrast of women in dusky skin with the bright sircilla saries. The use of form is exaggerated through large bodied depictions of characters, which occupy substantial portion of the paintings, reflect villages where size zero trends are yet to make an impact. A first look at a Vaikuntam paintings might throw up resemblances to painted caricatures. Yet, as one lingers on the painting one cannot miss the strong sense of rusticity and tradition as one finds in the life away in the city.
This is a brilliant analysis. I have nothing to add. You have connected the art to your life and thus are able to speak with passion about it. You have connected it to Tanjore painting. You have warded off critiques with an effective defense (colour and charcoal). I hope you go deeper into art.
My introduction to art was a chance encounter when i shifted my residence to ECR in Chennai and within a few kilometres was Cholamandalam Artist village. I have visited this place quite a few times to see the artists work and one of the artist who has fascinated me was K M Adhimoolam. His simple sketches of pen on paper simply render me speechless as i had never imagined that such beauty can be conveyed by simple streaks of lines drawn on pen. I did see a few of his sketches of Gandhi and after browsing through some more of his sketches online, I think “Two Vaishnavites” is my favorite.
Even though both the gurus look fragile, there seems to be inherent peace and strength from within because of their conviction on their beliefs. While the older guru seems to have his eyes clouded by dark glasses, the younger guru seems to see the world through enlightened vision. Also as the older guru is clutching the stick with both hands not willing to accept change, the younger guru seems much more amenable to change without compromising on his beliefs.
I had seen the sheer beauty of these black and white sketches and thought that this must be his style but was astonished to see his color sketches. They were abstract paintings of oil on canvas and the vibrant colours he has used is very subtle as they don’t seem to clash with each other. The colours are also rendered in broad strokes with a rather rough, natural finish which I think is a nice way to depict the nature surrounding us and giving it a twist of his imagination and creativity.
I too have been Cholamandal in Chennai many times and I too like Adimoolam. I agree that we don’t pay much attention to sketches, but most famous artists including Van Gogh and Da Vinci made wonderful sketches. If this medium interests you, please start sketching and also look up sketches of other artists. I like your pick but I personally prefer Adimoolam’s Pablo Neruda better. I am glad you like his abstract paintings and you describe them well. Nice job!
Pablo Picasso once said “I have discovered photography. Now I can kill myself. I have nothing else to learn.” Clearly photography was bound to follow painting as a visual medium of expression.
Being an avid (amateur) photographer, I decided to write about Ansel Adams. He was born in 1902, and was training to become a concert pianist, when a trip to Yosemite changed his life. He started photographing at an early age and, by the age of 50, he became the most acclaimed landscape photographer, a reputation that has remained unchallenged. His images are mostly in black and white, and are the most widely reused images in the world.
While artists were striving to render a life-like quality to their paintings, Ansel Adams went exactly the opposite way, making his photographs seem like paintings. He pioneered a style of artistic photography, which many have drawn inspiration from and tried to replicate, but have not succeeded. He engineered the Zone system where every step of photography from exposure to the final print is conceptualized, calibrated and controlled. He used this to his best advantage, and this can be clearly observed in degree of tonal detail one can see in his images. It makes us believe that he had a vision of how he wanted the image to turn out even before he clicked it, and through use of lighting, composition and technology managed to create the final image. I would call him an artist rather than a photographer, just that the tools that he used were different.
His image Moonlight was the most commercially successful, the combined revenue from all its prints grossing over $ 25 million. My favorite, however, is the Tetons and the Snake River, which you can see below. What strikes me most every time I look at this image is the dreamlike quality about it, and feeling of peace and tranquility that comes from it. When you look at his pictures, you don’t help but get transformed into a different world. I have also noticed that his photographs don’t have a human subject in them, which also adds to the aura. In my opinion, there couldn’t be a better tribute to the beauty in nature.
His genre of photography, although ahead of its times, has been one of the major influences of Fine Art Photography which has now become quite a rage. Digital cameras combined with high caliber processing tools such as Adobe Photoshop, have encouraged many photographers to pursue this genre. It would be interesting to wait and watch whether another Ansel Adams emerges in the digital world.
You can see more of his work at http://www.anseladams.com/category_s/71.htm
There was a small typo – His photograph was Moonrise and not Moonlight. I had tried to embed it in the comment which didnt seem to work. Here is the link. http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/archive/2/21/20050425110750!Adams_The_Tetons_and_the_Snake_River.jpg
I enjoyed your post and your Picasso quote. I didn’t know he said that but it is intriguing. I like that you have researched Adams’ biography and given the context of his work. Are you sure that other artists were doing life-like paintings when he photographed. My guess is by the 20th century, when Adams operated, painters were already into abstract art. So check that. If you like fine art photographers, you must look up Cindy Sherman. Also Alfred Steiglitz, who I love. He was married to Georgia O’Keefe, a wonderful painter. I also want you to look up “critiques of Ansel Adams,” because that will give you some perspective. I am pushing you because I think you have an aesthetic sensibility. Nice job!
I was intrigued by the paintings of Van Gogh, Picasso etc and was trying to find the link between creativity, painting and meditation.
A very penetrating insight is given by Osho on subjective and objective art on http://www.osho.com/Main.cfm?Area=Magazine&Language=English
Briefly, painting was a sort of catharsis for these painters, i.e. they were throwing out their emotions on canvas and thus was therapeutic for them. It cleansed them by throwing out their frustrations, hatred etc and provided them with some relief. The painter was totally insensitive to the beholder or the viewer of the painting. In fact he is not bothered who is watching his painting. Now the question is, why is it so fascinating to watch someone else’s frustrations on canvas. It might have helped the painter but how is it helping the viewer. or is it doing the opposite? are we also trying to identify with the sufferings of the painter and in the process suffering? The more deeply we look at Van Goghs, Picassos etc the more we suffer the painters anguish. As Osho puts it someone vomits to throw out the bad stuff and the others are watching the vomit!!!!!! Its nauseating!!!!!! A deep look at the above paintings can also produce nauseating feelings!
Our batch was in Korea and Hong Kong in aug this year and we got to see some of the finest art especially from Zen buddhism, calligraphy etc.
These paintings are diametrically opposite of the above western painters. No matter who watches these paintings, they will always create harmony and peace within. They were the expressions of peace and tranquility within, achieved after deep meditation.
These paintings are therapeutic for us in a positive way coz they challenge us to achieve the same level of tranquility within ourselves.
Osho has never ever said that van Gogh’s paintings were vommits of his frustrations. Instead, van Gogh is His favourite painter. van gogh’s paintings are full of ethereal and earthly beauty and never ever there is any frustration. Please don’t abuse a genius so disgracefully.
I can see that you love Van Gogh. :)
Interesting viewpoint. Have to think about this.
The answer to the question”One artist I like” was Never an easy one. One needs to know few names to begin with. So for me the question was “If I have to Like One artist who will that be”. So Things started by looking at number of paintings and then figuring who was the artist behind those paintings. I started with Indian artists and I liked many of the painting posted on the reference sites but it turned out that they were nobody. The more popular ones were too bright and colorful for me. So I turned to artists outside India.
I really liked Salvador Dali. I find his surrealistic style really different and very creative. I also admired the tone of the colors used. But then not all his paintings are depiction of dreams or unconscious thoughts. Some say his most popular painting the persistence of time is inspired by Theory of relativity where warping of space and time in gravity is depicted by melting watches . The painting was also done around the era when the theory came out. Years later he did another painting titled Disintegration of persistence of memory. Here half the landscape was flooded with water and other half was above it. This was done during the time Quantum physics was taking form. The new painting can arguably be said as digitizing the old painting as influenced by quantum mechanics.
So the point here is that possibly many of Dali’s paintings were Not Inspired by dreams of unconscious thoughts but by science. This is also re-enforced By the fact that he had strong interest in Science. And if that is the case then he really had a great way to depict complex theories of science and his understanding of those theories on the canvas. But then if are notable to make this connection these painting seem to depict a dream or unconscious though even though Dali had something else in mind.Though Dali himself denied it, the evidence is too strong to ignore.
Great post. I like the fact that you are challenging Dali. Plus, I LOVE that you have connected science with surrealism. There are so many situations that you can use this knowledge too. I find that the design of some nightclubs or lounges are very Daliesque. So when someone goes on and on about how Dali was influenced by dreams, you can politely correct them!
Well done! For your final project, you might consider drawing a connection between science and art. It is an ambitious idea but you seem to have the interest and ability to pull it off.
Your remarks are uncalled for. Kindly give everyone a freedom to critique and here is an article by your beloved master :-
What is objective art?
Is creativity somehow related with meditation?
Art can be divided into two parts. Ninety-nine percent of art is subjective art. Only one percent is objective art. The ninety-nine percent subjective art has no relationship with meditation. Only one percent objective art is based on meditation.
The subjective art means you are pouring your subjectivity onto the canvas, your dreams, your imaginations, your fantasies. It is a projection of your psychology. The same happens in poetry, in music, in all dimensions of creativity – you are not concerned with the person who is going to see your painting, not concerned what will happen to him when he looks at it; that is not your concern at all. Your art is simply a kind of vomiting. It will help you, just the way vomiting helps. It takes the nausea away, it makes you cleaner, makes you feel healthier. But you have not considered what is going to happen to the person who is going to see your vomit. He will become nauseous. He may start feeling sick.
Look at the paintings of Picasso. He is a great painter, but just a subjective artist. Looking at his paintings, you will start feeling sick, dizzy, something going berserk in your mind. You cannot go on looking at Picasso’s painting for long. You would like to get away, because the painting has not come from a silent being. It has come from a chaos. It is a byproduct of a nightmare. But ninety-nine percent of art belongs to that category.
Objective art is just the opposite. The man has nothing to throw out, he is utterly empty, absolutely clean. Out of this silence, out of this emptiness arises love, compassion. And out of this silence arises a possibility for creativity. This silence, this love, this compassion – these are the qualities of meditation.
Meditation brings you to your very center. And your center is not only your center, it is the center of the whole existence. Only on the periphery we are different. As we start moving toward the center, we are one. We are part of eternity, a tremendously luminous experience of ecstasy that is beyond words. Something that you can be… but very difficult to express it. But a great desire arises in you to share it, because all other people around you are groping for exactly such experiences. And you have it, you know the path.
And these people are searching everywhere except within themselves – where it is! You would like to shout in their ears. You would like to shake them and tell them, “Open your eyes! Where are you going? Wherever you go, you go away from yourself. Come back home, and come as deep into yourself as possible.”
This desire to share becomes creativity. Somebody can dance. There have been mystics – for example, Jalaluddin Rumi – whose teaching was not in words, whose teaching was in dance. He will dance. His disciples will be sitting by his side, and he will tell them, “Anybody who feels like joining me can join. It is a question of feeling. If you don’t feel like, it is up to you. You can simply sit and watch.”
But when you see a man like Jalaluddin Rumi dancing, something dormant in you becomes active. In spite of yourself you find you have joined the dance. You are already dancing before you become aware that you have joined it.
Even this experience is of tremendous value, that you have been pulled like a magnetic force. It has not been your mind decision, you have not weighed for pro and for against, to join or not to join, no. Just the beauty of Rumi’s dance, his spreading energy, has taken possession of you. You are being touched. This dance is objective art.
And if you can continue – and slowly you will become more and more unembarrassed, more and more capable – soon you will forget the whole world. A moment comes, the dancer disappears and only the dance remains.
There are in India statues, which you have just to sit silently and meditate upon. Just look at those statues. They have been made by meditators in such a way, in such a proportion, that just looking at the statue, the figure, the proportion, the beauty… Everything is very calculated to create a similar kind of state within you. And just sitting silently with a statue of Buddha or Mahavira, you will come across a strange feeling, which you cannot find in sitting by the side of any Western sculpture.
All Western sculpture is sexual. You see the Roman sculpture: beautiful, but something creates sexuality in you. It hits your sexual center. It does not give you an uplift. In the East the situation is totally different. Statutes are carved, but before a sculptor starts carving statues he learns meditation. Before he starts playing on the flute he learns meditation. Before he starts writing poetry he learns meditation. Meditation is absolute necessity for any art; then the art will be objective.
Then, just reading few lines of a haiku, a Japanese form of a small poem – only three lines, perhaps three words – if you silently read it, you will be surprised. It is far more explosive that any dynamite. It simply opens up doors in your being.
Basho’s small haiku I have beside the pond near my house. I love it so much, I wanted it to be there. So every time, coming and going…. Basho is one of the persons I have loved. Nothing much in it: An ancient pond…. It is not an ordinary poetry. It is very pictorial. Just visualize: An ancient pond. A frog jumps in…. You almost see the ancient pond! You almost hear the frog, the sound of its jump: Plop.
And then everything is silent. The ancient pond is there, the frog has jumped in, the sound of his jumping in has created more silence than before. Just reading it is not like any other poetry that you go on reading – one poem, another poem… No, you just read it and sit silently. Visualize it. Close your eyes. See the ancient pond. See the frog. See it jumping in. See the ripples on the water. Hear the sound. And hear the silence that follows.
This is objective art.
Basho must have written it in a very meditative mood, sitting by the side of an ancient pond, watching a frog. And the frog jumps in. And suddenly Basho becomes aware of the miracle that sound is deepening the silence. The silence is more than it was before. This is objective art.
Unless you are a creator, you will never find real blissfulness. It is only by creating that you become part of the great creativity of the universe. But to be a creator, meditation is a basic necessity. Without it you can paint, but that painting has to be burned, it has not to be shown to others. It was good, it helped you unburden, but please, don’t burden anybody else. Don’t present it to your friends, they are not your enemies.
Objective art is meditative art, subjective art is mind art.
– from The Last Testament, Volume 3, #24
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I think Akash has opened a discussion about whether we want “harmonic” and peaceful art or we are okay with disturbing art. I have views on both, but Akash clearly like the harmony and peace of Oriental art. If you don’t like disturbing art, how about rap music? And hard rock?
Posting my submission on Raja Ravi Varma, and some discussions that me and Professor had on it.
“Style and Work of Raja Ravi Varma
Born into the Royal family of Kerala, Raja Ravi Varma is an artist whose paintings are exquisite and highly praised in the art circle. Many of these paintings have been restored and copies produced with minutest details for art connoisseurs across the world. It is also thought that the departure from the tradition of classical art in India started with the emergence of Raja Ravi Varma. He was trained in western traditions and painted mostly in oil medium. His exposure to the west came when he won the first prize in Vienna Art Exhibition in 1873. His paintings are a perfect blend of European Academy of Realism and Indian tradition. The style of depicting the characters is close to realism and baroque, while the brighter colors resemble the Indian tradition and to be precise the Tanjore Style, which is probably an influence of his uncle and first teacher Raja Raja Varma, who was a proponent of Tanjore Style of painting.
Most of the themes are from ancient Indian mythology, but expressed in a very day to day mode. This is something very catchy I find in these paintings. The main character in these paintings are mostly women, the paintings depict different stages in a woman’s life (but mostly with a mythical theme). In many cases the women are dressed royally. The reason for this might be that the ladies from royal family used to pose for the painting (confirmed by one of the family members). The paintings are also inspired by Maharashtrian culture since he stayed in Mumbai for long. He was deeply inspired by their costume and used the 9-yard sari for some of the heroines in his paintings. The facial expressions are very vivid and they catch the mood and theme very well. The colors used are very bright and yet soothing to eyes. The paintings are timeless beauty which is admired then and now. Today they are an art collector’s dream. Somehow a look at these paintings gets me mesmerized, sometime I look at the colors, sometime at the flowers, sometime a swan standing beside a shapely lady, both the swan and lady align to form the whole piece. The liveliness of each piece is amazing, everything comes alive; one could feel the pleasantness and mood of the moment. Each time I see the paintings of this great artist I feel refreshed. He paved the way to merge west and east in harmony. ”
Professor’s valuable comments that made me look further
Sorry for the delay in response. I enjoyed reading about Raja Ravi Verma and you have included a lot of biographical details. While you have expressed your point of view in a refreshing way, I would like you to think about connections between Ravi Varma’s style and other painters that you enjoy.
Good work! Keep it up!
Therefore I looked up more and what I found left me astounded, so I shared with Professor and she asked me to post it here.
Thank you for your feedback. I was struggling to find an artist having similar touch. Finally glad to find one. I feel Ravi Varm paintings resemble John William Waterhouse’s paintings, who painted on classical themes and his paintings also mostly depicted women. His painting – “The crystal ball skull” especially has the bright colors and overall vividness similar to Ravi Varma Paintings.
More about John William Waterhouse here – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_William_Waterhouse
And more of his paintings
Two words which resonate for me when I think of R K Laxman are “Nostalgia” and “Humour”. Malgudi days, Gattu and the Common Man were creations which personify and celebrate the Indian way of life – culture and unbridled joy. As a kid, I didnt take too long to fall for the simplicity, humour and the simple outlines of the characters that RK created. His cartoons manage to capture not just the characters, but significantly, the context and environment that these characters operate in. His cartoons may not be overtly detailed with finer details, but do manage to project issues in a humourous way, especially the daily struggles. His influence on Indian cartoonists is a widely acknowledged, but nothing equals the kind of personal connection that average Indians continue to make with his art work even today. Keshav, who continues to draw cartoons for the Hindu, has carried on the legacy of RK’s “The common man”.
halo shoba…am kalai from malaysia…i heard raja ravi varma is now in malaysia is dat true..??