Art

The next renaissance

The movie fight club has a few thought provoking quotes – “We are the middle children of history, no purpose or place, no great wars, no great depression”. I don’t second the thought completely, our generation might also have a purpose may be a latent one, may be the purpose is hidden in layers like a pomegranate hides the berries in layers. Taking the middle path is the norm, the path that is safe, one that might bear the fruits of success – a success that is moderate but not the one that will make you immortal. Fight club comes to rescue one more time by stating “It’s only after we have lost everything that we are free to do anything”.

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The cities that have marked themselves in golden letters in pages of history were unforgiving to the people who called them home. There wasn’t a plan B, if you succeed then you will share the glory and your place in pages of history with the greats from all walks of life but if you fail then you might starve to death and you subject your upcoming generations, if any, to similar fate. But that didn’t deter them to take risks. They always shot for something that can be considered the ultimate manifestation of human spirit.

What is it that we will risk everything for? Pope Julius II gave the commission to Michelangelo to paint the Sistine Chapel. Michelangelo wasn’t a painter, he was a sculptor. But the philosophy to take risk on the unlikely heroes was not uncommon. Identify a talented person and bestow responsibility of a herculean task; sit back and look at the results.

But what we do nowadays is quite tangential to that approach. We enlist the people for jobs once we determine that they are the perfect fit and then we assign the tasks to those who demonstrated the ability to execute those tasks in the past. Entirely risk averse. No risk or reduced risk is what the aim is. The space and time required for the ideas to flourish are not provided and then we wonder why aren’t we living in another renaissance?

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Colors – The Paragone within

Voice by KHMRS is being played in the background while I write this. When I was a kid and before I had any comprehension of Physics and optics, I always wondered that if light can divide itself into rainbow colors then if I will mix the VIBGYOR then may be I will get white or something made of light but every single time I got some blackish muddled color like my thoughts and also warnings from my mother on wasting colors. After many years, in one of the books I borrowed from Dr. B C Roy’s children’s library in New Delhi I read about the additive and subtractive mixing of colors giving rise to white light and the blackish color of my mix. In short, when you mix RGB lights in 1:1:1 then you get white light. While when we mix the colors the concept that is used is called the subtractive mixing e.g. a shirt appears blue when white light shines on it because it absorbs all colors but reflects only blue back. The same shirt might appear of different color when looked in different light. The color of an object does not reside in the object itself. The color is in the light that shines upon the object and that ultimately is reflected or transmitted to our eyes. 

Mixing of colors wasn’t a welcome activity before renaissance, many purists didn’t like the idea of mixing color and their argument that there is nothing a color can add to the black and white world. If a painting is great then it is great, an addition of color can’t have an effect on it’s intrinsic value. White and black were considered the natural colors and rest were just derivations.

The competition, rivalry, tussles were the hallmarks of the renaissance period and one of the fiercest debate or paragone as it was called during that time between colore(color) and designo(design and drawings). Design was with Florence and Color with Venice and Venetian colore has always been characterized as sensual e.g. Titian’s Venus and the Lute player – the painting that hangs in the MET. While the guiding principle of disegno is manifested in lines, contours, and forms. While disegno was considered more intellectual and rational form of art, colore was seemed as vulgar but with the advent of renaissance, both the ideas got an uplift and world became vivid with colors.

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Venus and the Lute Player

Chandidas and Rami

Ghazals are one of  the purest form of expression I have experienced in my life till now. The metaphor clad meters chalk out the palpable  feelings of lovers howsoever hyperbolic and exorbitant they may seem. They are all so foolishly romantic that they seem incredible and prodigious.

In one of the ghazals of Ameer Minai performed by one of the artist, he recounted the tale of Chandidas and Rami. Chandidas was a poet famous in the medieval period and his poems are many times used to draw parallels between human and divine love. Then, Chandidas was a priestly class while Rami was a washerwoman and the love between them was not only frowned upon but impossible in the era of division and class. They took their love as sacred as the love between Radha and Krishna; Chandidas refused to forgo his love for Rami and also his priestly duties in the temple much to the despair of his family. Many legends say that he was arrested by the queen and later whipped to death but no one knows the true story.

Why the story of Chandidas and Rami holds significance? Much of later Bengali literature, art, and societal thought found its foundation in the legend. The urge to show the face of society and the characters involved without any exogenous and dramatic variables became an integral part of the art. The spirit of defiance and being recalcitrant in the time of social disapproval might have carved the room for breadth in the thought process.

Mustang

Yesterday I went to see Mustang at IFC in Greenwich village. Oh boy ! I was delighted. The film struck the chord from the first scene itself. Teenagers running around on beaches, playing and having times of their lives, plucking(stealing :)) fruits from the gardens. That is how kids should be- playing outside in the sun not stuck to minecraft or taking duck lipped selfies for snapchat. The long hair of the five sisters represented wildness and cavalier attitude and the title of the movie is so apt – Mustang, the free roaming horse. The youngest sister reminded me of myself – logical and not being afraid to confront. Everyone in the theater was laughing at many scenes of bravado shown by young girls. The entire film was captivating to me from the story to the escape and from the music to the stillness of the scenes. I haven’t liked a movie as much in years and recommend it to anyone who has even iota of interest in watching something meaningful.

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I experience a sinking feeling when I see what people in other parts of the world go through in the name of culture. Here I am living in a world that doesn’t asks any questions to me and there is a world out there which has bugged your entire life, your each movement is tracked and the self appointed moral police dictates what one is allowed to do. Talking on phone, using computer, reading books that are not approved by the “intellectual ones”, talking to someone who is not related to you, not believing in what others believe in will make you a pervert and your will be corrupted in thoughts and your being? Does this even make any sense? Sometimes Cynthia and I laugh that if we were not here but somewhere else we would have been stoned to death by now for sure. We are not related to each other but we commit the unforgivable ‘sin’ of talking to each other and exchanging ideas on anything and everything that exist on the planet despite not being ‘related’ to each other.

The music from the movie was elevating especially the one at the end. Comforting yet unsettling as it creeped and crawled under the skin.If interested then you can check the music out here – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L8x4DBBQi_8&list=PLSLN5gEzR2h6B27qBo4A1Lp1XztkGdh97&index=4

I looked at the elderly woman who was sitting with me in the 30 seater auditorium of screen 5 at IFC and tears were welling from her eyes. We did exchange a human smile.

 

Halo

Before starting my day’s work I thought of coming here and jotting something down. Cinema and music have profound effect on one’s sensibilities and it creeps in slowly that makes you altogether a different person in part. Both invoke emotions and feelings sometimes unknown to ourselves. When I was 9 years old I watched a movie named Halo on national TV of India – Doordarshan. The name shouldn’t be confused with the famous game series. The movie is about a little girl, my age at that time who doesn’t have a mother and she lives with her father and sister. She finds solace in a puppy she finds on road and becomes great friend with the dog and eventually adopts it and gives it the name – Halo. In the unfortunate Bombay blasts of 1994 the puppy gets lost and the movie is about her struggle to find him. The last 20 minutes of the movie are tearjerker. I cried my eyes and heart out when I watched it for the first time. Well, what does a 9 year old knows about the world ? The movie is a delight to watch.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0295294/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halo_(1996_film)

Someone uploaded the movie in parts on YouTube

No one was ready to release the movie as it didn’t have potential to rake money at box office so the director of the movie put money from his pocket to release this masterpiece.

The impressionist

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For past couple of days there was a mail delivery box lying on the first floor and I never bothered to check it for I hadn’t ordered anything and all my mails are delivered into my mail box. Today, while going out to get groceries I checked the box from a distance and was surprised to see my name written on it. I took it to my apartment and opened it. The box bore my name and address and was delivered from Sunnyvale, California. I opened to see that it contained a print of an impressionist painting. It looked familiar but I couldn’t decipher who has sent it to me. I don’t know any artist from California region. I am nonplussed as its a conundrum. I have emailed few friends of mine to ask whether they have sent it. Till then its a mystery but I am enjoying this beautiful painting.

 

Chagall’s windows

Few days ago I had the opportunity to visit “The Art institute of Chicago”.The so called number one museum in US. I didn’t find it the best as I have seen better or may be I have been to too many of them that I feel the antiques and displayed articles redundant. But anyway, this is not the topic of my post.

It was snowing in Chicago and I was pedaling my bike on the snow covered roads and reached the museum in 15 minute time. I docked my city bike and entered the grand labyrinth of the institute. I purchased the ticket for $23 and checked my coat in. Check in policy is odd $1 for every item. I had only a backpack so I had to give $1 but I didn’t have any change so I gave a $20 bill and he gave me the change. I should have counted the money then and there itself. The guy returned only $17 and I was duped of $2 by the coat check in guy. Well, I didn’t get to know this until I reached home and counted money . Its really unfair and I am very annoyed . People are not really trustworthy especially in terms of money.Anyway, I will come to it in some other post.

So, let me enter the museum. After checking few galleries on the ground floor I turned the map over and checked what else is left to see on the ground floor as I was tired of the same Greek heads, Indian, American Indian folk arts. I saw Chagall’s windows as the featured display. The print of the visitor guide and map was not vivid so I just decided to walk to this gallery where these majestic windows are on display. Before that, I had never heard of Marc Chagall and any of the stained glass art of any artist. For glasses I would say Tiffany glass itself was quite a revelation to me and I was astounded when I first saw the mosaic pattern at Driehaus museum Chicago.

I reached the gallery and I was dumbstruck and couldn’t really believe my eyes that I am seeing something like this.I was stupefied and dumbstruck. At first I thought its some light effect at play here and then I went at the back of the building to check if some light tricks are done or not. There were none. I sat in front of the windows and kept looking at them. The color intensity was impeccable . The varying shades were giving it a unique touch and every color seemed to complement the other.

Chagall's Windows

                                                 Chagall’s Windows

Just look at the masterpiece. Isn’t it wonderfully brilliant ? It left me dazed for days for what kind of artist creates such masterpieces. Of course I read the short biography of Chagall- French-Russian artist. While I was sitting in front of it ,an old woman who was examining the art work closely had tears in her eyes while she was clicking photos of the same. I didn’t ask her as I didn’t want to disturb her zoning moments.But I am taking that an art work can be moving to a great extent.

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I am already a fan of blue color and this art work has made me even a greater admirer of the color of God, the color of healing , color of the heaven, color of Indian God Krishna ,Color of David’s star and the color of Sapphire.

“Few people said “Look out of the window to get a perspective” but then I looked “at” these windows.”