When you tell people you want to do your graduation in Visual Arts

It’s that time of the year again with students awaiting admissions to colleges and enrolling for courses of interest. And it’s surprising that year after year, students wanting to pursue unconventional or creative fields end up confronting unnecessary questions, one too many. That said, we are fortunate to have met talented writers, photographers, artists, fashion designers and a host of other creative folks who have shared learnings of their craft and nudged us to look beyond veils of these confrontations, and that has personally been a striking inspiration. More power to you folks! Meanwhile, here’s a tiny doodled series on general responses of folks towards students in the similar pursuit, not sure if we have more ridiculously interesting ones to add to these questions?

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Barriers that embrace: from Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2016-17

Musings from my first Kochi Biennale wanderings.

Something as simple as the slow splash of waves against your ferry can meander off into an absent-minded gleeful smile when you are taking in the experience as an outsider, unlike the routine commuters – more familiar, more purposeful. But its when you step out at Fort Kochi that you’ll be surprised how easily you slip into feeling at home.

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Kochi beckons not only artists, writers, connoiseurs, students, tourists and thousands of visitors with open arms during the biennale season, but also fresh ideas that adorn her alongside the wall art from previous years that are lovingly treasures. She flanks you with colourful surprises throughout her humble streets and before you know it she has left you busy absorbing lines, forms and colours, an act of immersing you into art long before you arrive at a venue housing an exhibit. So, the more you trudge past the tree-sheltered boulevards abuzz with charming little cafes, shops, carts, hawkers, pazham pori, birds, goats and cattle; the more she lets you encounter new visuals and , perhaps, have you mentally reorder your list of favourite works all over again, tugging you to experience beyond the prevailing humidity. For the art here feels so raw, and real, unlike my fake silk scarf tied to my bag.

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You will then spot the ubiquitous RGB shades, typeforms made of strokes, and (as our auto driver described it) the windmill-ish icon: the official visual identity of the event, where spaces in Kochi welcome you to the venues you originally intended to begin your art encounters at. You will also find mildly faded hues on some wall sections with peeling paint patches from the previous few events – and between these avatars of fresh and faded visual identity lie visual and textual content to be dissected. (Anyone else who’s a fan of the old-school handpainted type? Surely lots more to love about Kochi with this edition!) What is incredible is this entire mix of elements from the event’s identity coupled with visuals and text forming a strikingly distinct and cohesive visual identity in itself, and seems to function like a lot like a compass at a certain level by letting you navigate into the heart of the place based on how densely populated the bylanes are with them.

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But there is more to the visuals that the walls of Kochi envelopes you with, both at exhibit venues and the surrounding hotels, restaurants and other spaces, beautifully overlapping with the hustling bustling daily life. Which is how she invites to you experiment with how you can document wall art, standing as testimony to the indefinite temporary presence of parked vehicles to people to cattle and birds. So, with the range of photographs that attempt to document the same can often accomplish more than just that – you can always, perhaps, spot the same piece of wall art, but never the same photograph. Can this also serve as a distinct visual identity throughout Fort Kochi, that outlives both the timeframe and the context of the biennale; merging into the thriving life and vigour her streets are alive with? For she has metamorphosed herself into an experience for you so selflessly, while she transcends containing art. You feel, she becomes.

 

‘Buri Nazar’ for Bengaluru’s trees?

With citizens enthusiastically protesting against the proposed steel flyover on Bellary Road and the road widening of Jayamahal Main Road in Bengaluru, I join in with ‘Buri Nazar?’- a Performance art in public space. The local custom of using ‘Nimbu-Mirchi Totka’ hung from entrances of homes, offices and restaurants to protect them from unwanted attention and strengthen their prosperity is ubiquitous to many Indian cities. So is ‘Buri Nazar Waaley Tera Muh Kaala’ painted vibrantly behind lorries. The act of stringing together these two representative elements to the tree bark is a metaphor in my performance, a visual representing much needed protection for these trees that await their fate.

It is shocking to note the numbers associated with the flyover project- 2244 trees, and 205 saplings from 71 species and 26 families are to be felled. This could result in severe ground water crisis, rise in pollution levels and summer heat as well as a tragic loss of substantial urban biodiversity habitats.(Source: Report by APU and Project Vruksha). While clogged roads and increased commute time are current problems, improving connectivity with the public transport system operating at regular frequencies could be a solution worth being considered instead.

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Painting nostalgia on bus tickets 💙

 
The rickety local bus sploshes through rain-drenched roads, magically gleaming with kaleidoscopic reflections of vibrant city lights. A stray dog meditatively rummages the now deserted corner of the street side with a trail of plastic bags, while a cow rests under the shelter of the steadfast metro rail tracks, seemingly in oblivion to its surroundings. Impatient dark clouds completely eclipse the misty sun as the metro train speeds over, hurtling through the city’s pace in more ways than one.

The Magic of Backlit Art

I accidentally stumbled on to this after finishing up with etching on acrylic sheet, while I peeked through my inked sheet over a lamp. It most definitely is a fun and interesting way to perk up any space with LED or fluorescent lights, and apart from on the walls of your home, painting a lampshade or other transparent/semi-transparent enclosures around light sources are a great idea.

While a conventional painting has its own charm, the use of a semi-transparent or transparent medium like glass instead of a canvas lends its own charm to the colours by allowing natural light to pass through it. When placed with a back light, the art forms on the glass seem more magical and colours, so much more eye-catching!

Here is a backlit piece I attempted:Starry Night in new light, an acrylic painting Inspired by my photography buddies experimenting with fantastic star trails, and the immortal compositions of Vincent Van Gogh.

This was done on an acrylic sheet using acrylic paints, and with 000 size brushes for the strokes.

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Here is how the painting developed from scratch.

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I liked how the light worked on the blue tones, it however had changed the yellow ochres and light browns to a darker brown. I have been suggested to use only bright warm colours to avoid that mistake, and would suggest the same to any of the readers attempting the technique. Also, if you are working on a transparent base like glass, it becomes incredibly easy to trace or follow a pattern that you are particular about and work on it in layers.Depending on which areas you think should appear darker or lighter, the number of paint layers can be varied. I should add that it works brilliantly well with Cubist, pointille and other abstract styles that use strong forms and colour.

Here is an insightful read on utilizing backlit art technique for those interested, a DIY project shared from amazinginteriordesign.com

http://www.amazinginteriordesign.com/diy-backlit-canvas-art/

So go ahead and have fun with creating stunning backlit art, would love to see other attempts on the same technique 🙂

 

Art for All

It was a brush with art of all sorts imaginable on 5th January, 2014, when Chitrakala Parishat, The College of Fine Arts, Bangalore hosted their annual public art event ‘Chitra Santhe’. The term originates from the native Kannada language of the localites, literally translating to ‘ Art Bazaar’. The event brought together over 2000 amateur and professional artists from all over the country for the mega one day event exhibiting paintings, sculptures, murals, installations and mixed media art works throughout the day.

The main highlight of Chitra Santhe is the idea of taking art beyond the confines of the 4 walls of a gallery, the event is spread over the entire college campus and the stretch of Kumara Krupa Road, which is blocked for the event with permission from authorities. The entire street becomes the platform for numerous artists showcasing their works, and for live portraiture and caricature sessions for those who want to take a quirky memento back with them. In this context, the event underlined by the thought ‘Art for All’  has become the common man’s festival of celebrating art in Bangalore. The remarkable talent and infectious enthusiasm can only get bigger and better, so all I was thinking of when the event concluded was about what we could expect from Chitra Santhe 2015. For which, I can only wait and watch, and I already am, eagerly. Here are a few glimpses from the art festival that went by.

The art of choosing joy.  An enthusiastic little spectator reacting to a cartooning session.

The art of choosing joy.
An enthusiastic little spectator reacting to a cartooning session.

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An artist overlooking the crowd from his display area

A section of paintings on display

A section of paintings on display

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The entry point to the college campus, from the display of art on the streets
A close up from a sculpture of The Buddha on display Also had the chance to interact with the sculptor behind this magnificent piece made of fibre glass which gave me some interesting insights to the casting procedure

A close up from a sculpture of The Buddha on display
Also had the chance to interact with the sculptor behind this magnificent piece made of fibre glass which gave me some interesting insights to the casting procedure

Rangoli Rambles

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A world of colour!

Rushing to work this morning, I was pleasantly surprised to spot a Rangoli, a decorative Indian folk art form in which delightful patterns are hand drawn with coloured pigments. The few times that I have spotted one is during festive celebrations alone, with most homes opting for the ready-to-use sticker versions due to time constraints. However, the look and feel of a hand drawn Rangoli can hardly be surpassed by any of the other available alternatives, and should truly be appreciated for its aesthetics, craftsmanship, composition and much patience.

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Auspicious beginnings

The Rangoli is mostly hand drawn by women in front of the door of their homes, living rooms or courtyard spaces, traditionally with plain and coloured rice flour and flowers. Meant to invoke blessings and bring good luck, the Rangoli lends its colourful and intricate charm to any space, and any auspicious occasion.

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Line and form

While the tradition has remained alive for years together, the Rangoli has had many adaptations down the line. The simplest decorative forms are drawn after the floor area is cleaned, and range from line drawings to forms filled with colour. Floral motifs, geometric patterns, elaborate designs and abstract forms in a mix of styles and executions are nothing less than a visual treat.

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Ethereal

 The traditionally used rice flour is usually combined with vermillion, turmeric and other natural pigments for a myriad of colour options. Synthetic colour variants, flowers, petals, sand, glitter, lamps and other accessories are sometimes added as a part of the arrangement. Ever since I’ve witnessed the long hours my neighbour used to spend on creating a beautiful Rangoli, I’ve been mesmerised by the immense patience and dedication that goes into this craft. So, when I heard about the Rangoli Utsav a year back, all I wanted to see for myself again was the now fading  art of hand drawn Rangolis. And to my delight, it did not disappoint.

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Facing Competition

The Rangoli Utsav in Bangalore, India, is a part of the annual Ganesh Chaturti festivities by Shri Vidyaranya Yuvaka Sangha at Commercial Street. For that particular day, the otherwise busy shopping hub of the city is the canvas for participants of the Utsav. The street is blocked exclusively for a massive Rangoli contest open to all ages and a duration of 3 hours to create a Rangoli pattern in a choice of materials and styles. One of the particularly different patterns I came across here was a portrait in progress, with different tones of the coloured pigment being used for a more 3D appeal.

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Taking to the streets

The smaller Rangoli design I ran into today in my vicinity was an immensely huge surprise in between the chaotic traffic snarls. I took a minute to examine the delicate strokes, the lines so precisely hand drawn, the filled colours so refreshingly appealing. Every resting grain of flour on the pavement could only speak volumes on the hours of faith and dedication that had conjured up a stunning aesthetic design. I love Rangolis, and with today’s inspiration I also reminded myself to try creating one at my home at least during a festival holiday, when I can make time for some homely arty indulgences. For more goodness, positivity and colour invoked to life itself.