Saturday, January 3, 2015


Thought behind the thought: 
Frank Lloyd Wright is considered one of the Gods in the architectural world. His creative genius is mostly unparalleled in the history of modern Architecture. His ideology and high standards are what architects across the globe are trying to achieve. Yet recently I stumbled upon the following piece written about him.
From Architecture magazine, November 1989:
“Leaks are a given in any Wright house. Indeed, the architect has been notorious not only for his leaks but his flippant dismissals of clients’ complaint. He reportedly asserted that, ‘If the roof doesn't leak, the architect hasn't been creative enough.’”
One of his own quotes goes like this, “The physician can bury his mistakes, but the architect can only advise his client to plant vines.” Someone who gave the world such rich architectural wealth is also not spared from slander. Although some of these claims may be true let’s hope the world remembers him by all the remarkable path breaking architecture he created.

About the Art:
Mistakes happen! Some are small others are big, some affect one others affect many. Yet certain mistakes are occurring because we are losing our sense of purpose. Architecture is meant to enhance the human existence. It needs to be created sensitively keeping many things in mind like climate, environment and context. Some architectural blunders have far reaching and deadly repercussions that we have to face.

Vdara Hotel (Las Vegas) 

In 2010 it was reported that this skyscraper could also melt things. Hotel guests experienced the feeling of getting scorched. Incidents of plastic cups being melted at certain times of the day were also reported. According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, “employees call the phenomenon the ‘Vdara death ray.’ The large glass facade creates a certain area which due to solar radiation is turning hazardous to occupants.

Taipei 101 (Taiwan) 
This tower is said to be as the tallest green building in the world and is supposedly 700,000 tonnes in weight. Although it is regarded for its path breaking earthquake and typhoon mitigation technologies some geologists believe that this building has reopened a fault line in the Taipei basin which in turn is environmentally hazardous.

Museum Tower (Dallas) 

Some websites and magazines have described this building as a giant magnifying glass. The building has an ongoing dispute with Renzo Piano’s Nasher Sculpture Centre nearby. Recently the roof of the Nasher Sculpture Centre had to be covered with screens from the inside to protect exhibits from the glare from Museum Tower

Bridgewater Place (Leeds, UK) 

This is the tallest building in Leeds and has allegedly s caused one death and serious injuries to people due to a powerful wind tunnel that forms around its base. BDOnline reported that after twenty five incidents of this nature the Leeds city council is starting work on a solution.

Leaning Tower of Pisa

Finally in conclusion, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, a failure that turned out to be one of the most visited and loved monument in the world. Around 1173, when the building was built the third tier of the tower began to tilt due to the clay foundation. Construction was sporadically continued on and off for the next hundred years. It was finally completed 199 years later in 1372. Surviving wars and gently defying gravity the Tower is a beautiful monument. It could be called an icon of human fallibility. It tells us we are human and even the greatest minds can make mistakes.


Friday, January 2, 2015

love's residence

Thought Behind the thought:
Birthday gifts are always an eye-opener. They basically are indicators of how the world perceives you and is trying to tell you how old you are! Cards and chocolates for the teenagers, diamonds and dresses for the young ladies and from there on it just goes tumbling down the hill. Winters are here and so while I was looking for a moisturiser on my dresser I found this “age defying cream” gifted to me last year by a well meaning friend! The bottle claimed that would rejuvenate and restore me back to my youth. Question is I am ready for it? Do I want to? Every wrinkle, every worry line is a reminder that thanks goodness; I had something or someone to worry about. It means that love has been visiting me and it has left behind a mark to remind me. Do I really want to erase it?

About the art:
Love visits all of us in one form or many. How, when and for how long are things that are out of our control. When love visits it leaves behind marks to remind you of its presence in your life. They could be laugh lines and crow’s feet from being blessed with laughter or wrinkles and bags under the eyes from sleepless nights, worry and anguish. Whichever way you look at it these are the physical indicators of love. Love resides in these little crevices and nooks and crannies. Here are three examples of famous love stories from cinema that talk about love and how one is blessed to have it in their lives.

When Harry met Sally

The first scene from “When Harry Met Sally” is a couple’s interview where different couples talk about how they found each other. It is a celebration of being together, about longevity in a relationship and the joys of it.


The second scene is from the Titanic where Rose meets Jack for a very brief time. She finds love that goes beyond the realms of time. She is able to take him ahead with her despite losing him. She lives her life to the fullest, confident that she was loved only fleetingly but by the best man she could ever find. She says she kept him alive in her memory and he remains with her till she is alive.

The Notebook

The third scene is from The Notebook where both the husband and wife are physically present but the wife suffers from Alzheimer’s disease and forgets herself. The husband then reads their own story to her each day not just to remind her of who she is but what their love was.
Love has no shelf life. It’s beyond everything else and it exists even if we don’t. We earn these lines after a hard long battle. A struggle that can consume a lifetime. A heartache that fill you entire being but it is the best feeling in the world. Whether to have it for a day or are fortunate to spend eighty years with that person, you are still blessed!


Wednesday, December 31, 2014


Thought behind the thought:

It’s will be 25 years, since our batch passed out of school this year. Reunion means going back two decades to a place where you spent some of the most carefree, innocent days of your life. I was instantly reminded of a video of a song by Enigma, The return to innocence. Literally, I felt like I was taken back two decades bit by bit assessing each and every decision of my life. Technology has easy ways of dealing with change. A  camera simply formats everything, at the touch of a button and turns  a memory card into a clean slate. A second hand mobile handset casually asks you if you want to discard changes and return to default! It is next to impossible to format our memory or discard changes we made to our personalities! Life does not give you the liberty to do so. I have met a great number of people who claim “I have no regrets, won’t change a thing if I had to go back”. My guess is such foolhardy statements are made because we know we are incapable of ever getting a chance to do so. So what if a reset button was made available to you? What would you change about your life and what would be the repercussion?



About the art:

So what about the ill effects of pollution and the threats to the environment? Can we reverse that? Can we at least make people aware of what these emissions are doing? Can we make a statement through art about this? Apparently there is a movement called Reverse Graffiti that is doing exactly this. Two artists, UK’s Paul Curtis a.k.a Moose and Brazilian Alexandre Orion have been doing some unique art that involves cleaning up dirty walls of tunnels and cities. What could be so great about cleaning a dirty wall one might ask? The sheer genius lies in looking at the wall and seeing the potential for art. Finding potential in a dirty wall to make a powerful poignant statement is a phenomenal idea.

Ironically in both countries the reverse graffiti is not encouraged and while Moose was charged under the Anti-Social Behaviour Act, Orion’s graffiti was watered down. When he moved to another part of the tunnel to carry out his work the authorities just cleaned up the entire tunnel. One is left grappling at what exactly is going on in the world. Hopefully we can reset certain things before it’s too late. Hopefully art can make statements like this one that makes us sit up and take notice. Please visit the web page of the artists to get a better insight into their philosophy.


Tuesday, December 30, 2014

leave a mark

Thought behind the thought:
Weddings in India mean back to back events which normally are opportunities to eat, drink, be merry, deck up and revel. The grand start to the festivities happens with the Mehendi night. The bride and all the women in the family (and in some cultures the men too) apply henna on the hands as a mark of auspicious beginnings. Henna marks its presence on the brides hands and quietly submits itself into the background. With every passing day, as the henna on the hands slowly fades, the bride wistfully realises that her days of abandon too are fading with it and a new life awaits her where she will be responsible for people around her. Henna does not aspire to be remembered forever. She just want to leave behind a memory that is a happy reminder .

About the art:

Mehendi or Henna is one art form that explores all the classical elements of design. If one decides to study all the styles and motifs an exhaustive research would emerge. An art form that dates back 3000 years, it has found its roots in African, Arabian, Pakistani and Indian cultures. Different countries have adapted and added their own elements to the application of henna. A brief study of how different design elements are used in this art form: 

Points: Dots or points are effectively used as points of focus or fillers. Dots can vary in size and scale making them prominent or giving the design a fragile delicate appeal.

Lines: Lines are explored in every imaginable type. Thick, thin, wavy, zigzag, alternating, dashed, crossed and many more line types are used to create wonderful patterns and motifs.

Gradation: Line gradation and colour gradation are two techniques that are used to create contrast and add interest to the design. One has to predict how the dyed pattern will emerge and pre-plan the gradation in order to achieve fabulous results.

Patterns: One of the most fascinating elements of mehendi designs are the number of patterns that have come about. There are scores and scores of designs and everyday new additions are being made from influences from allied art.

Fill: Indian style of Mehendi usually is filled with no empty space or solid fills are also very common. Nails too are dyed solid which is essentially done to add colour to the nail and keep it moisturised as well.

Negative and Positive space: Arabic style of Mehendi is usually sparse with some amount of vacant spaces left to make the design more impactful.

Symmetry: This is an element that needs precision and years of practice. Some unbelievable symmetries can be achieved by mirroring patterns on both the hands.

Abstraction & Symbolism: Lot of animals, birds, natural objects are integrated in the designs by abstracting them. The usually have a symbolism connected to them. As this art dates back many centuries it is evident how artists were influences by nature and how they have tried to use these inspirations in making innovative designs.
Some symbols from different cultures:

Peacock – stands for beauty
Swan – stands for success
Bird – stands for messengers (between heaven and earth)
Butterfly – stands for transformation
Parrot – stands for messengers of love
Dragonfly – stands for rebirth
Fish – stands for woman’s eyes
Scorpion – stands for love and romance
Flower – stands for joy and happiness
Vines and leaves – stand for longevity, devotion, perseverance, entwined lives and vitality
Snake – stands for seekers of enlightenment
Tortoise – stands for protection and fertility
Lotus Blossom – stands for grace, beauty, creativity, sensuality, femininity and purity
Sun, Moon and Stars – stand for deep and lasting love between lovers/partners
Paisleys – stands for fertility and good luck
Bud – stands for new beginning after marriage and a new life
Zigzag – stands for rain
Ripples – stands for running water, which purifies and brings life
Square – stands for magical, used to heal and protect the sick


Monday, December 29, 2014


Thought behind the thought:

Recently on one of my trips to Chettinad, in South India I got a chance to see original Tanjore style paintings of goddesses, by Raja Ravi Verma, so claimed the owner of the house! Being a traditional Chettinad home it had treasures from the world over. Italian marble, original Venetian tiles, Burma teak columns with intricate details, Belgian glass chandeliers and what have you! There in the middle of all the treasures from the world over, were the paintings. The owner turned off the lights in the hall and the paintings literally radiated in the dark room in front of our eyes. My students tried every possible photography technique to capture that radiance without the use of a flash but couldn’t do justice to what the actual feeling was. Some things have to be experienced and cannot be captured in the lens. We all sat there, in complete silence, in awe of the painting and tried to capture it in our memory.

Painting of Vayu

Processional scene with Amar Singh, ruler of Thanjavur and Sarabhoji

Venugopala Krishna flanked by Gopikas

About the Art
Tanjore or Tanjavur paintings hail from the Tanjavur city in south India. Dating back to the 9th century, Chola rulers encouraged this art form and gave it patronage. Tanjore paintings are an extremely unique art style, in which a lot of attention is given to detail. Vivid colours, bright sparkling gems, precious and semiprecious materials are used in the construction of the paintings. The process of making these paintings is extremely laborious and needs expertise. Normally the paintings have Hindu deities as the primary subject. Well bodied and radiant, the subjects of the paintings always grab the attention in spite of all the embellishments and finery around it. The treatment is such that even in a dark room the radiance exuding from the subject cannot be taken away.



Thought behind the thought:

Social media is finding new ways everyday for people to reconnect. We leave behind so many people and move ahead in life. Yet there are some mysteries of the past that remain unsolved. I caught up with a friend recently and he updated me on the latest news about these people I had long forgotten. I was truly amazed to see how certain people turned out to be once life was done with them. Some shined, some buckled under the pressure while some left me disillusioned. That got me thinking do we actually see people for who they are or are we under some mass hypnosis of youth and are just too impressionable. Most things in life are illusions that we choose to believe but when the veil comes off the reality is pretty ugly to deal with. What we see is actually a dual picture …the further you go away the more it makes sense.

John Lennon

Charles Darwin

Tsar Ivan


About the Art:

Oleg Shuplyak’s oil paintings are astounding optical illusions. The composition of his paintings is such that objects, characters and colours are used to create a dual painting. Painting portraits of some of the greats from the art world like Pablo Picasso, John Lennon,Sigmund Freud, Charles Darwin, Paul Gauguin, Shuplyak manages to convey the ideology of the person through his portraits. The way he integrates the landscape, culture and famous personalities one has to really look at the painting in minute detail in order to reveal all hidden images. His works are similar to those of the famous Mexican artist Octavio Ocampo,who is well known for evocative paintings in which detailed scenes are woven together to create larger images Most people are like these paintings . They project themselves in a certain way yet on close inspection so many of their true facets surface.