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Desi Global or Global Desi?

 

‘Desi-Global or Global Desi?

Lata was my good friend when I was in undergraduate college. She did not get her masters seat. But our friendship continued though we were not meeting regularly because of my college schedules. We hail from a moderate town of Telangana. That was such a coincidence that we got engaged in a difference of one week and got married in a difference of 3 months. She went to Sydney and I went to North India. That was in late 80’.

We met after one year of our marriage. I planned my travel to my parents’ house in such a way that I could meet her when she arrived. We went and sat in our favorite place behind her house middle of fields and near bank of a lake. We went on sharing our experiences of our married life. Both of us went to new and distant places. Both of us experienced similar feelings with slight differences. Both of us had a problem of locating ourselves in a place of strangers with new language and customs. She explained one of the incidents with a heavy heart. Her husband once invited home couple of his friends’ families. She prepared good south Indian dinner and she thought of decorating her house with corner table cloths. Lata was good at stitching embroidery designs with thread and needle. She used to mix and match the color threads for the embroidery designs in a very creative and attractive way.

Telangana is popular for Lambada tribal community who must have migrated ages back from Kutch of Gujarat. These people were working as helping hands in household, rickshaw pullers, labour etc. Women of this community were very good at specific basket type of embroidery and mirror work. They were readily teaching those techniques whoever is interested in learning from the houses where they were working. Lata was very attractively used to mix many of such embroidery techniques. But such style of embroidery was considered as a middle class taste and was not a choice of class apart at that time. That evening of special dinner for special friends of her husband, one of them is an Indian couple who understands the table cloth embroidery she had spread. They mentioned about the same as a matter of fact. Poor Lata was taken aback. Her husband made a taunting comment after the guests left, that she should not have taken out those table cloths thinking of showing her smartness. Lata sounded little upset when she narrated the incident.

Years passed. Again we could meet only after 20 years. We wanted to meet at our same favorite spot behind her house but we could make it only for half an hour at a coffee shop. She has come only for a week and I was there for couple of days. Both of us had many other commitments. After asking about the whereabouts of family and children I realized we did not have much to talk. We lost our same old zeal to share with each other because of the gap of so many years. I casually inquired to pass the time about her embroidery skills and inquired whether she is continuing. I also recollected the incident Lata narrated about the dinner at her place and her embroidery on corner table cloth. She looked at me and laughed ‘oh, you remember the incident.’ Two of her teeth were broken and there were many dental gaps in between. I was dazed observing her awkward smile. This was not the smile earlier I remember about Lata.

She could never leave her passion for embroidery. She continued to do but closed every piece inside the cabinets. She tried to move out slowly to fetch the necessary groceries to begin with later to pass her leisure hours looking at different people, attitudes, and to pass the time meaningfully attending certain discussions and workshops. She started understanding the needs of the day and arranged for her husband and children. Her eldest daughter completed her fashion design course and opened a boutique. She experimented with Indian ethnic designs and that is the fashion of the day. One day she suddenly realized the new mix of mother’s embroidery styles. Lata’ closed cabinets were opened and that hit the market. Most of her daughter’ special customers prefer Lata’ designs. Her daughter kept her very busy. She wants her mother to be at the outlet with heavy ethnic attire in good business seasons, because that adds authenticity mark for her business. Her daughter also feels she should not speak in English with Indian accent, instead she should answer only in Telugu that would add to the authenticity and would become little entertainment for the guests. Lata once again awkwardly smiled and said, that day I was feeling inferior of my rural background and today my family is happy about my ‘Desi’ categorization. I am knowingly behaving ignorant of yesterday and today.

Balamani                                                                                                                               19th August 2017

Telugu to Gujarati via Hindi

Telugu to Gujarati via Hindi

My parents hail from Coastal Andhra, I was brought up in Warangal in Telangana. My in-laws family too belongs to Coastal Andhra. Both the states divided from united Andhra Pradesh like quarreling siblings in recent years. My story goes further dividing my belonging. After my marriage I lived in Mathura [UP], Delhi and presently in Baroda [Gujarat]. I am afraid, if I have to mention my place of belonging…….??

After I reached Baroda I pursued my passion for art once again. This is almost 2 decades back. Accidentally I reached JTV Gujarati electronic media channel and I was offered to conduct artist’ interview based video programs for art lovers. They provided technical assistance including cameraman and a video editor. I made my first documentary video on senior artist of Baroda Sri.Jyoti Bhatt. I can speak Hindi. I cannot speak Gujarati. My understanding of Gujarati language was very poor to begin with. Jyoti Bhatt spoke in Hindi to answer my queries for video interview. He probably must have felt there would not be any dialogue otherwise. JTV was a popular channel in Gujarat for Gujarati audience. I completed the video and it was put for approval of the JTV organizers. I realized that a Telugu speaking person, speaking in Hindi for Gujarati audience. I was more than sure that it’s going to fail leg before wicket. Surprisingly they approved me to continue and make video interviews. Have they thought art loving audience of Gujarat would not mind to pardon Hindi pronunciation of a Telugu speaking person?

One day I approached Bhupen Khakkar, well known artist. After the discussion of what I am going to video shoot and interview him he said he would speak in Gujarati, but I can converse in Hindi. He beautifully narrated his short story too in Gujarati during the interview. He was a writer in Gujarati. Those were the days I was trying hard to understand little Gujarati. That beautiful interview 17 years back was heard by Gujarati viewership via my spoken Hindi. Gujarati people are very friendly. Hospitality is the core of their community living and wonderful sharing.

Today I remember and recollect those of my interviews I conducted for JTV. Artists who belong to Gujarati community used to speak either in Hindi or English except Bhupen who insisted on speaking in Gujarati. To bring out the information I was twisting my hands and facial expressions and try to invent a language of common communication. Courtesy British, India adapted and there are ‘Indianized’ words, chair, table, train, etc,. There are certain easily understood words in Indian languages like Kurchi [Telugu] and Kursi [Hindi, Gujarati], because of the pronunciation commonality. We have already invented a language of mixed basket like, Tinglish, Hinglish, Minglish, etc, i.e, a mix of Telugu and English as Tinglish. In this century of migrations new language inventions like Thindi etc, also happened. That has a different flavor to savor. If different languages speaking people come together to communicate, necessarily a new expression takes birth.

Balamani.M

1st August 2017.

‘Sugar Lift’ technique of Print Making-Workshop by Mr.Vijay Kumar

‘Sugar Lift’ technique of Print Making- Workshop by Mr.Vijay Kumar from Manhattan

Mr.Vijay Kumar, Print Maker from Graphic Arts Dept. of Manhattan, USA has been cordially invited by Faculty of Fine Arts Baroda to conduct a workshop on ‘Sugar lift’ technique for the Master’s students of  Print Making. Faculty of Fine Arts Baroda has been always incorporating contemporary thoughts and new developments and been progressive in it’s approach. Morning of 19th of December 2016 workshop was inaugurated. Many a senior artists of Baroda, P.D.Dhumal, Naina Dalal along with the faculty members and students of the Dept. attended the inauguration ceremony addressed by Mr.Vijay Bagodi, Head of the Dept. He also offered the members attending the inauguration that the workshop is open for those who want to work on this new technique along with the students and teachers of the Dept. Result was a vibrant activity at Graphic Arts Dept. of Fine Arts Faculty from 19th to 21st December 2016, and I too had an opportunity to attend the workshop being an alumni of this Faculty.

As part of my Master’s curriculum in Art Criticism I was learnt the practical work of every Dept., Painting, Sculpture, Print making, etc. I thoroughly enjoyed print making though the techniques were very elaborate. In the process I have started understanding how the aesthetic of print making is different from other mediums.

Vijay Kumar is adept at traditional as well new techniques, etching, dry point, aquatint, non-toxic photo etching, Viscosity medium, multi color printing, many experimental techniques. He migrated to USA in 60’s from Lucknow, one of the founder members of Manhattan Graphic arts Centre and continues to teach there. He exhibited, extensively in USA, Europe and Asia, received highest prize in 2002, in an exhibition of prints by Royal Society of London Painters and Print Makers. His works are in the collection of prestigious institutions like New York public library, Museum of Modern art in New York, Brooklyn Museum.etc. His drawing is spontaneous has an antique Egyptian sort of intricate and graphic quality of lines and combinations, displaying abstract meanings.

Vijay Kumar is very communicative. Students thoroughly enjoyed learning new techniques. His principal demonstration was on Sugar lift technique for printmaking. Sugar solution is used for making a drawing on the Zinc plate. Those drawn lines are processed for etching. It’s a process of mirror image printing method of etching. This is a positive print technique for positive image. He also demonstrated couple of interesting techniques further. One is hot plate transfer of photo copy print of images and photographs to Zink plate, transferring the image by serigraph screen as a stencil, drawing with thick line of gloss pencil, etc. These techniques work with similar methodology of positive printing. Vijay Kumar was playing with the techniques as a gulp of the water.

Many senior faculty, Mr.Vinod Shah, teaching faculty of painting Dept. Vasudevan Akkitam, Indropramit Roy were working and it’s an opportunity for the students to learn more. Special effect of this workshop was acclaimed artist Mr.Dattatreya Apte from Delhi who accompanied Vijay Kumar to Baroda and guided the students on this workshop. I had a great opportunity interacting with stalwarts of Print Making Mr.Vijay Kumar and Mr.Dattatreya Apte along with the teaching faculty of this Dept. Mr. Vijay Bagodi, Mr. Sunil Darji, Mr. Debraj Goswami.

M.Balamani, Ph.D  

Padma Shree Award Recipient of 2017 Aekka Yadagiri Rao-Regional Aesthetics of his Sculpture Telangana Stupam

Padma Shree Award Recipient of 2017, Aekka Yadagiri Rao-

Regional Aesthetics of his Sculpture-Telanagana Stupam

Aekka Yadagiri Rao, Padma Shree award recipient of 2017, made a tower of sculpture “Telangana Stupam” and installed at Gunpark in Hyderabad, capital of Telangana. His sculpture has become a landmark for Telangana identity. ‘Separate Telangana agitations claiming for independent status of the state, separating from united Andhra Pradesh, made the ‘Telangana Stupam’  a landmark for the beginning of every agitation forum and to celebrate the separate Telangana statehood announcement a couple of years back. People gathered and delivered speeches or listened under that Stupam- as a landmark of Telangana identity. In the process of such Social political activities the aesthetics of his sculpture has come to the fore. This essay would look into Mr.Rao’s visual aesthetic of Telangana Stupam interacting with the people even if their focus is not to look at this sculpture as an art form.

Visual language has a silent communication. Art works and expressions of the artists gain monumentality in the artistic and aesthetic values but become mute objects in the loud social and political scenarios. ‘Telangana Stupam’, a sculpture made by Yadagiri Rao at the site where political meetings and social gatherings happen might be occupying the similar situation.

Telangana Stupam-

Aekka Yadagiri Rao made ‘Telangana Martyrs Memorial Column’ in 1972 and was installed as a public sculpture at Gunpark, near State Assembly in Hyderabad. It is 25 ft. in height, popularly known as ‘Telangana Stupam’ made of colored and polished granite material. This sculpture has a blossoming lotus bud on its top as the head of the sculpture in white marble. This is a metaphor to deliver a meaning that that is for paying homage to those Telangana martyrs of 1969 agitation who rallied their lives for the cause of separate Telangana statehood. The Stupam has depicted bullet impressions in the polished black granite at the bottom of the monument made in memory of those who laid down their lives for the cause of separate Telangana. People began to gather for meetings on ‘Separate Telangana agitations’ and scheduled processions at that ‘Telangana Stupam’ after it’s installation. The Historic movement of separate Telangana agitations began from his sculpture and celebrated the separate Telangana state announcement in August 2013 and the Parliament bill passing on its separate statehood in February 2014. The sculpture of Rao has added sanctity to the processions and gatherings.

Aekka Yadagiri Rao’s style of art-

Rao’s sculptures have a different style. He installed lot of public sculptures and Telangana Stupam is one of them. He contributed his share surely to the Modern Indian sculpture while exploring new avenues of materials and artistic skills. His sculptures are simple and truthful and are largesse in size. He achieved many awards for his contribution to the Modern Indian sculpture. He molded his firm ideology from his mother’s spiritual background and her floor designs, Rangoli, Indian mythological stories, and Vivekananda’s biography and his preaching. He follows the philosophy of spiritual guru Sri Chinmayananda. He began to conceive the idea of creativity as a divine spiritual force behind us. That has inculcated a mystic and intuitive vision in him. Rao enjoys a challenge in molding monumental size sculptures and works in stone-granite medium also in metal and wood. He creates simple sculptural forms that would express human values. His one another sculpture ‘Samadhi’ is a form of a Yogi to express spiritual concept of Nirvana, annihilation of the gross physical matter of enlightened soul. ‘Torch’, his one more work in steel made in 1972, suggesting a progressive environment required for humanity. Besides he also created the sculptures on ‘Jatayu’- wounded bird, a tragic story of a helpless bird lost it’s life while helping Lord Rama.[1] ‘Man’ is a welded sculpture of a Tribal, exhibited in Triennale of 1975 at Delhi. ‘Aswamedha’ is yet another sculpture in Indira Park of Hyderabad has a vibrant movement and majestic posture of a horse. His sculptures have broad universal values. Aesthetically viewer enjoys a known subject. Rao’s works possess simplicity, readily recognizable forms but communicate strong statements and make us to think further. He picks up those subjects to sculpt who shouldered the responsibility in the success stories but passed unnoticed and unacknowledged.

 Aesthetic references

Visual language is unprecedented being silent, not being loud, de-centered and marginalized to a corner. The Telangana Stupam as an art object of silence in that crowds of Telangana political gatherings does not appear as important as the loud speeches delivered there and the busy movements of public space. Political gathering sanction a token presence of the sculpture and treat the sculpture as ‘other’. But the situation is other way round. The art object-sculpture engages with its ‘other’, that is the political gathering. Both are mutually pushing each other in to the position of ‘Self’ and ‘Other’. Both these, ‘self’ and ‘other’ participate to redefine the incidents dialogically and mutually. The physical presence of mute Stupam as an art form, and the voice of the crowds, they are alerting each-other. The Sculpture must be peeping out not only from the spaces in between, the empty spaces of the crowds but also because of its height, standing tall and straight in-front of those moving crowds. It must be echoing the reference of its name whenever the proceedings keep saying the word ‘Telangana’ on the agitation forums. The surroundings of the gathering at Gunpark cannot keep out the material vibrations of the Stupam.

The sculpture at Gunpark-Telangana Stupam has its own way of presenting itself, like a bean talk of a child or a pleasant smile of a rising sun amidst the mild clouds or as dispersing clouds after the sudden heavy showers, like the cool breeze if it is in the August months of Hyderabad. Sculpture extends the story line of political activity of separate Telangana proceedings. This sculpture intensifies the site of the speeches through it’s visual effect. Stupam might even be acting as a weapon of display on emotionally blackmailing the viewers and observers reminding them on the martyrs of Telangana agitation, standing at the backdrop, as a story narrator of this agitation. The reference of Stupam also must be having the History references of Buddhist Stupam that is commemorating the relics of Buddhist monks. Simlarly Telangana stupam is for commemorating Telangana martyrs who sacrificed their lives in 1969 Telangana agitations. The presence of this visual language is present as well as absent in the scenario. The Stupam has become active and a living sculpture when it has become a participatory artifact.

Political -Aesthetic

Separate Telangana agitation might be a regional issue, but the regional identity of narrowness is not restricted because of the backdrop of this sculpture. As Buddhism refers to a casteless religion of specific philosophy, the reference of Buddhism in the name of Stupam this sculpture opens up the possibilities when the regionalism vs nationalism is on the forefront. It is directing for a ‘local’ generically rather than geographically because of the philosophical references. Probably the same reference is possible in the mind sets of the different social strata of casts and religions of Telangana to unite them on the cause of agitation for separate statehood. Telangana Stupam is emerging with the meanings of fusion of political hybridism on local on local, local on regionalism, narrowness to broadness, closed political agendas to openness of humanity, etc. New combination of political strategies and new agendas are incorporated, knowingly or unknowingly by accommodating this sculpture as a performative backdrop bringing shared experiences amongst participants as well as between the sculpture and the people. The Stupam is living in the situation and also catering to direct the situation for a better dealing and meanings to deliver. Backdrop of Stupam is increasing the dramatization.

Culture and the nation-region, state are intermingling somewhere in between the electoral politics. The presence of the sculpture and the proceedings of the agitation together appear like an environmental theatre[2] while using the space of the Gunpark. The participants are Separate Telangana seekers, Stupam, and those 1969 deceased in the Stupam’s molding as a metaphor. The interaction in this environmental theatre is both temporal and historical, of present and the past. One can see the interaction of participants and the sculpture with each-other as far as the distances are concerned. Participants can involve with sculpture by keeping in touch, nearness with it or can keep oneself away from it. That sculptural space interacts first with participants before initiating the proceedings and speeches. That space encloses an aura and holds, embraces the sentiments of Telangana regionalism while pushing out the locale of narrowness because of the wide references of Stupam in the backdrop. Rhythm and the volumes of speech would be in synchronization with the texture and material of the sculpture. Auras of the incidents, proceeding speeches, do not end at the skin or outer border of the sculptural layer or human beings.[3] They get extended on the resonances of the human voice and the echoes of the stone. They respond to each other, create another waves and layers of harmonious relation in the environment. That makes the space lively. Energy is transferred and transformed, cross their-own boundaries and interpenetrate. There is a cross flow of human, artistic and space energy that interacts. That sculpture and space are participatory on time specific public gatherings and also on the timelessness of artistic value. Stupam gains the position of a topaz and promises the authority. In such vastness Telangana Martyrs Column made by Mr.Rao gained a monumental presence.

Regionalism-Nationalism

Regional and national have state and countering the state relationship. Nation is thick as cloud and that is demystified by region. The nation has centrifugal and region has centripetal force. Regionalism is a strategy contributes to the one-ness of nationalism also represents the nationalism. Regionalism can represent nationalism as a micro representation. Nationalism is a sutured unity, represented by many units within.

Conclusion

Communication of that sculpture at the site is a process. This discussion is to achieve the aesthetics of art work’s communication. This is a necessity because mute language of art is an aesthetic message and the message is conveyed in a different code in a humble way.

Shadow of the tomb hovers around the rallies over there and asserts its presence. Viewer finds oneself in the company of that tomb. The shadows of the tomb long or short as per the time of the Sun rays make the space theatrical. Even if the audience misses the presence of that mute language at the first instance the amazing sense of empathy of Telangana sentiment would reduce the distance between the sculpture and the people of gathering. The straight standing Telangana Martyrs Column made by Sri.Aekka Yadagiri Rao stands ever for Telangana identity.

M.Balamani, M.Sc, M.A, Ph.D

Art Historian-Critic & Cultural Analyst

[1] He was honored at a conference on Backward classes by Government of Andhra Pradesh in 1979. Probably most of his sculptures represent the idea of exploitation of downward classes in the society.

[2] Richard Schechner-

[3] Ibid

“Hyder<->Ahmed Travels”-exhibition curated

hyder-ahmed-travels-invitationHyder<–>Ahmed Travels

Theme of this exhibition refers to travels and settlements happening since ages between two cities Hyderabad and Ahmedabad because of the trade, business and employment. Such travels bound to induce interactions one over the other. Many Indian cities have such similar interactions, comparisons and Hyderabad and Ahmadabad are such two cities have disposition parallels.

Hyderabad and Ahmadabad have the names titled from their Islam rulers of medieval times. Both the cities have Indo-Saracenic architecture built in then times and popular similarities can be seen as Hyderabad-Charminar and Jhulta Minara of Ahmedabad. Living styles and give and take relations between Hindu Muslim communities are similar in both the cities. Both the cities celebrate Navaratri with jubilant moods, Hyderabad on Batukamma and Ahmedabad on Garba.

Tea, a hot beverage is popular to both the cities referring in specific to, ‘Ahmedabad ni Chai’ and Hyderabadi ‘Irani chai’…

Trading communities of Gujarat migrated to Hyderabad centuries back and formed the texture of Hyderabad city. Both the cities have mystic traditions and the elite urban, pre modern and modern exist in a peculiar style. Irrespective of traffic congestions of old city, ‘Purana Sheher’ has its own cultural identities comparable to each other, reminiscent of the Islam rulers, over whelming bazaars, Chowks, Kamans-arches, localized Urdu language spoken, old and new sides of the cities are connected with public transport vehicles, Chudi[bangle] bazaars and Mehendi cones, strong perfumes of old cities and imported perfumes from elite shopping complexes of new city, would be brides’ wedding ceremonies will not be complete unless and until they visit such old city bazaars. Markets and life of old cities, heritage buildings and old routes of the cities depict common visuals of both the cities. Such are few specific characters common to both the cities but not exhaustive. This is the present day life of these two cities, which was different previous decade and might move on to new routine next decade.

Some of the artists must have travelled and visited both the places and few might not have, but both experience certain nuances of day to day life of their own city. When artists express tones and tinges of their city, comparables in the display is viewer’s pleasure. This exhibition would be a visual display of the present day scenario and a comparable between both the cities. Why not to explore artist’s experiences of both the cities expressed? This Curatorial theme is an idea to explore such anecdotes.

I curated this exhibition at Kanoria Art Centre, Ahmedabad from 22nd to 24th November 2016.

Dr.M.Balamani

anil-majmudar-01

Anil Majumdar

hindol-brahmabhatt

Hindol Brahmabhatt

srinivasa-chary-2

K.Srinivasa Chary

 

“Scenic Times-By Gone History”-Vinay Sharma’s Landscape Paintings

“Scenic Times-By Gone History”-Vinay  Sharma’s Landscape Paintings                                                                                                20160416_165609 20160416_165458

Would you like to watch twinkling gold stars on a dark sky of a summer night? Imagine, your home is at the end of mountain ranges, rain waters are flowing down from the tip of those mountains and a rush of one of its streams is entering your door steps in the rainy season, how do you enjoy the same? My reader friends must be thinking I am introducing a romantic story. Believe me we can watch that. Let Vinay Sharma open the doors of his studio. We will find some of his paintings are spreading those twinkling gold stars. Those are like his childhood memories of his home at the end of Aaravali ranges in Rajasthan. Such above nuances would keep peeping out in some way or the other in his painting compositions.

 

‘Nostalgia’ is one referential term that is indicative of memories of the past. I really wonder whether we can imply that term as a straight jacket for his work. The term ‘nostalgia’ carries a baggage of missing feeling, morbid touch and a marooned tone. I am afraid whether the expressions of Vinay reflect any such lost feeling. He does not look at his childhood just as his past alone. He collects certain experiences and meanings from that past. He respects that for the same. While talking to him I realized how certain activities of yesterday have become base for Vinay’s art expressions today and walk for tomorrow.

 

When I entered the studio of Vinay Sharma, I did not find the ambience in the usual way one finds in any painter’s studio. His studio invites us with a different atmosphere. It might look like previous times ‘Diwan’s’ office. Old documents are neatly placed on a sloping table where one can sit in front of it to write the accounts books. He collects writings of earlier generation, manuscript pages, etc. He uses all such materials in his present phase of compositions. If I say he is using such material as a background and a base paper for his compositions, it will be a too simplistic statement. He invests many thoughtful themes through those papers. Whatever may be the idea his compositions are visual treats for the viewer.

 

Many handmade papers are stacked at one corner of his studio. They are unusually thick compared to any other handmade paper. He prepares his paper base with paper pulp. He has an interesting way of relating this present technique with his childhood activity. He prepared his slate base that is called ‘Takti’ for his school work as a child. This was a daily routine for the school children of that time, in his village. His paper base is richer because he is keeping up with his childhood bubbling moods.

 

Rare end of the studio has a more picturesque invitation for the visitors. It looks as if he had spread a carpet on the floor out of his compositions, mounting base paper, some of the papers just made and others on the floor are for beginning the work. Script is made to play hide and seek with the viewer combined with in the pulp while making the paper itself. At another time he would even over write the script or write new script and figures which is in continuum with the old script of the documents. Overall all such exercises leave an interesting effect on the compositions.

 

His grandfather was an astrologer. When he was very young he observed his grandfather working on horoscope charts. Children were given a work and Vinay enjoyed coloring many auspicious symbols and borders on those charts. Colors used for those paintings were natural colors made out of turmeric, extraction of flowers etc.  Vinay must have enjoyed the visual forms of geometry in those charts of cosmos and planets. There is an abstract understanding related to those horoscope calculations on geometric forms and numerical charts. Many a times what is that aspect that our mind derives from the acts we do and experiences we gather, is at far off distances from explanation.

 

Scenic times Bygone History

Some of his works series suggests that these compositions are the scenic beauty, probably landscape of that History period. Colors are spread on the lower and upper side of the paper in such a way they bring two conical shapes with enamel texture on both the ends. Probably it is to suggest the top layer as sky and the down layers for earth. Something is moving upward or downward as if every flow is reaching the centre of the composition. That is leaving an impact as if volcanoes are bursting, earth is forming, clouds are about to ooze out the rains. Something is indicating a fluid state on the whole. Few small flowering plants are suggestive and confirming the image of a landscape painting on the objective details of the composition. His landscape paintings do not have those typical landscape elements like-trees, lakes, water bodies, mountains, etc.

Vinay says he wants to stand in front of the earth of that moment when earth started forming or watch that moment when creation started taking place. If he does so he would find those specific elements that are flowing to meet each other to create a hard core real body of life on earth. It is that organic growth he is displaying in his landscape painting. It is an abstract movement as if it is moving to reach that unknown vanishing point. He is expressing that perennial, timeless, grandeur of nature’s growth that is ever alive in the flow of life and one generation to another.

 

His paintings are numerous. If we travel around his works, suddenly one composition would sparkle silver smile to greet the viewer, sometimes golden dots are hidden below a layer of transparent paper as a pair of beautiful eyes under the veil, a streak of paper would be flowing across the canvas as if a stream of water is falling down from the heights, some script would be seen as a broken sentence that is hesitating to speak out, some lines of scribes are transparent from a thin paper outer line as if it is a  poem of an young girl speaking out only through her expressive eyes.

Dr. M.Balamani

 

‘Journey’ – Prof.Sisir Sahana

 

4. Barbie meets the met- acrylic on canvas, 2006Exile in the Wild-6

1.Barbie Series                                                              2.Exile in the wild

Journey-

Prof.Sisir Sahana from Santiniketan has displayed his works at Cultural Centre of Vijayawada, capital of newly formed Andhra Pradesh state. This exhibition is a graph of his journey for the last 3 decades. He travelled drawing lines, painting colors and sculpting in glass medium to express his deeper thoughts. He worked in film making medium also that hosted his passions to see figures in animated movements. He divides space on his painting compositions that creates a narrative mode. The women figures ‘a carry forward’ from Indian miniature painting styles in the compositions indicate the meanings of traditions. That could also indicate the nostalgic past symbolically. Symbolic figures of Barbie dolls indicate a desire for western life style adaptations in our society. Dolls are like a mini world of human beings, a world that we can play with it. In a way Sisir is commenting both ways while including glossy colors of those Barbie dolls. The dolls mimic us and transgress our understanding between entertainment and reality. Making dolls on the composition could be an effort to see the transgression between our intangible dreams to visualize a tangible reality.

Observing the cultural co existence in the society is another pre-occupation of his. The intrusion of many foreign practices whether it’s from the West or from the East they are internalized in our society. For example at the time of ‘Swadeshi Movement’ struggles against British rule in India, artists of East, i.e. Indian, Japanese, Chinese followed a Pan-Asian movement and Indian artists practiced techniques and painting styles of East. Those styles are internalized and known as indigenous styles of India at present.

His glass sculptures are a rarity of art works because of availability of techniques and acquiring the technical perfections. Glass is an aesthetic as well as a difficult medium. Volcanic glass was the natural glass material available and people were making knives, arrow heads, jewellery with that natural glass dating back to 5000BC Syria or 3500 BC to Eastern Mesopotamia and Egypt. Syria craftsmen invented blow pipe technique in making the glass in 1st C. and that made glass production easy and viable, economic, faster and cheaper. Glass adorned Cathedrals and Churches.

Though glass medium was practiced as a craft material, artists of 19th and 20th C. adapted the glass to create the art works. Art glass called as studio glass has opened further possibilities to the artists. Artists like Sisir made art glass as warm glass to hold their passions. Textures on his glass sculptures look like hazy water surfaces where the reflection is unclear. Glass transparency is water like. His adaptation of aqua green and blue color fusions also brings in such meanings. Materiality of glass is brittle comparable to the reality of mortal life. He combines many such meanings and aesthetic statements in his works.

His works transgresses once on time another time on space. Objects and life once present on this earth freezes to become fossils frozen in the layers of earth. Time and History are traceable through those fossil objects. Probably he is trying to map a graph in between the time periods through the fossils. Otherwise once time passed away cannot be reached. Fossil can become the tangible reality for that intangible time passed, which can be an imagination alone otherwise. Today’s our walk is overlapped on yesterday’s people’s walk and will be walked over by tomorrow.

His compositions always speak about certain commonly found incidents. Love has to transgress the objective worldly relation to reach the soul relation. Women and her potentials transgressed in his glass sculptures as women unified along with the form of tiger, horse, boat and women. This is a transgression of energy and courage in woman that is expressed in his sculptures. Transgression between the fragility and aesthetic beauty of the glass is another format experimented by Prof.Sahana.

We understand world from our perspective. His observation is from other end. Universally understood subjects transgress to express his personal experiences. His compositions appear like his auto biographical images, can be related to many common stories of many people and their experiences. His work is more on the philosophical meanings than the objective of documenting the real. Viewer may encounter a mystery hidden rather than History reading.

Artists are of two kinds. Few drive their passions to reach their goals. Few are driven by their passions. Sisir seems an artist of second category. He makes a survey of the undisclosed and abstract images of imaginations. They are poetic too. We shall call them ‘Images of Interactive Museum’. What I understand by this term Interactive Museum is, he is trying to gaze a picture while juxtaposing the space lived by previous generations and present generation’s life on the same space continued to live. He is trying to draw a connecting line between those two.

Dr.M.Balamani

Quintessence

V.Ramakrishna images.-2

‘City Scape’ by V.Ramakrishna

 

'City Scape' by V.Ramakrishna

‘City Scape-2’ by V. Ramakrishna

Quintessence

My memories rushed back to my childhood days when I observed V.Ramakrishna’s method of color application. He initiates his color composition on canvas surface while smearing a transparent color base. Canvas appears like a courtyard of the household where water is sprinkled early mornings. Dry mud floors used to emanate sensuous aromas with the touch of the water. That was stimulating the nasals. Mornings were energized while walking over those scented ground to begin the day activities. That sprinkle was beautifully displaying a raw color too.

The houses built in villages are very nearby physically without leaving much space. That practice closes the distances between the animal-human living spaces and relations too. Many attachments are shared within those available spaces. Urban housing space is less too in the flat system of living. As far as shared living is concerned, limited space is available on both the locations whether it is rural or urban. But the difference is on the aromas emerged out of combinations and interactions. Water sprinkled on the mud base liberate essence at village space is altogether different from urban space of concrete base. The meanings of his paintings compositions are on the quintessence of village/urban spaces.

His ongoing solo exhibition at Cultural Centre of Vijayawada has many such compositions speaking those essence and various colours of village life, changing urban mileu.

Dr. M.Balamani

Remembering Hema Hirani Upadhyay

Remembering Hema Hirani Upadhyay

My first experience of Hema was when she was a student at Faculty of Fine Arts Baroda. In an ‘interactive session’ – a part of the curriculum of the Department of Art History and Aesthetics- she talked about her work explaining to everyone, what inspired her and what made her look at things in a particular way. I was pleasantly surprised to see how different her focus of observation was.  She talked about paintings of artificial legs and the feelings of people who need them. The impression I was left with was ‘a beautiful and pleasant girl with an uncommon and sensitive angle of observation’.

My second experience was after a gap of many years in January 2013, at India Art Summit in New Delhi. The work here was titled ‘Mute Migrations’. This was another surprise for me. Many artists work with a urband landscapes exploring different angles and perspective of it, but this vision of Hema was stunning. A scaled model of slum dwellings and those roofs cluttered together, as seen from the sky. Standing in front of that work transports you into the space that it is inspired from and you begin to feel yourself as a part of its fast paced muddled activities.

Hema had contributed much to the art world, often jolting people out of their humdrum lives and showing them something new in a different and beautiful way.  The world ended up experiencing another jolt in the way Hema Hirani Upadhyay left the world , bringing a close her creative energies. This is an unfortunate shock.

M.Balamani, Ph.D

Poetic Reality

 

Sajal Sasanka Sarkar Work0002 Sajal Sasanka Sarkar Work0018 Sajal Sasanka Sarkar Work0001

Paintings by Sajal Sasanka Sarcar

Poetic Reality

Sajal Sasanka Sarcar lives and works in Baroda, qualified from Print making Dept. of Baroda Fine Arts Faculty. He has re-organized, while adding layers of fine paper pulp to print making process and explored technique to suit his work. Print making technique wore a fresh costume. His studio is filled with tins and jars storing the dry, wet paper pulp, and some lumps are in the process of drying under the Sun and few more thin wet, colored pulp layers are on the sieves ready to undergo the process of composing the canvasses. He uses vinyl eco-friendly industrial colors, sometimes acrylic colors and yet another times tea and coffee stains, iron and rust stains. To develop the methods and medium to go well with one’s own contemporary requirements on such traditional techniques is a meditative act, paying homage to traditional art practices. Use of traditional methods in modern practices was very rare till the decade back and recent change in contemporary art is exploring the meanings in medium of natural dyes and traditional techniques and methods. Exploring new methods to the required results is adding another feather in the artists’ works like Sajal’s and a viewing feast for the viewer.

What is pleasant in his work that persuade the viewer is, poetic elements giving a thrust to the visual imaginations, themes reflecting on changing society, living styles, illustrious personalities, History incidents. Many such elements mix on visual senses within the pleasing idioms. His father -in -laws’ poetry painted visual imagination by him has interesting canvases leaving a feeling of book fold. He takes pleasure in poetry essence and their universal meanings to display his visual expressions.

Sajal syas Krishnokali composition is about rural Bengal girl on cow-herds’ watch over, has dark eyes and dark complexion, dark hair suits her name. Hungry Bengal composition display a tiger’s upside down position symbolizing the ecological imbalance as well imbalance of the social peace and coexistence. The golden Bengal of previous days was, beautiful. It was like beautiful Krishnokali. Probably symbolizing female and a landscape sensibility is like a sensibility of Tagore’s poetry and Nadlal’s imagery for Sajal. He feels it’s a blurred picture of that Sonar Bangla at present. What the culture of previous days was unique to Bengal there is a change in the present times with changed and multicultural practices. He feels this is Hungry Bengal devoid of peace.

His other compositions are on social problems and individual’s identity struggles. Beautiful girls like ‘Bondana’ are thrown for trade symbolized with barcode, two beautiful girls composition narrate the story of human being with dual sexuality desires, Fatemah’s photo album explains the suppression of desires.

PL 480 is a composition on social problem of red wheat import of then times from America and Lal Bahadur Sastry’s move on green revolution is a narration of history, a story of reality. This composition speaks about the success story of Lalbahadur Sastry than the humiliation faced by Indian society, receiving red wheat which was equal to animal feed in America. Sastryji looks like Gandhi in his composition with folded hands. Probably the idea of Satyagraha of resistance popularly symbolizes Gandhi.

Cinema posters were taken on litho prints previously and at present it is taken over by digital prints. He made a composition on 100 years of cinema celebration compiling many heroes of cinema entertainment and Amitabh Bachhan mega star as a central figure who has taken over the minds and viewership. Many hero characters like Rajkapoor or Rajnikanth of Indian cinema are placed at the periphery. Effect of costumes of military uniforms to pink colored goggles of a young girl to earthy browns or whites every color has that pleasant natural touch in his treatment on compositions. His composition on 100 years of cinema reveals many symbolic meanings specific to his style of working and concepts. Amitabh’a picture is taken from that poster of his hit movie, ‘Coolie’. The urban labour class is well represented in that character role of that movie, and Amitabh fulfilled the role to make it a big success. Metro cities working class are the big patrons of cinema and success stories of 100 years. His posture has portrayed more than the entertainment of movie, but as a male icon of the period.

Sajal’s work is like candid photography caught people, incidents, life on natural moments depicting like an observant of body language. His attention catches the day to day life, activities and down to earth requirements of common people’s life, problems, entertainments, changing society and existential problems. Technique of paper pulp is adding more meanings to his compositions.

He signs his canvasses with a stamp printing his name the typical way Chinese paintings and Durer’s prints are stamped. Sometime back letters written were effective communication amongst people living at distances. They carried such stamping. It could be a memory of that practice too which carried forward the relations and emotions. He feels being living in Gujarat he should write his signature the way Gujarati’s mention and added Sasanka to his signature later.

M.Balamani, Ph.D