Saturday, January 17, 2015

becoming yourself

Thought behind the thought
It crossed my mind, as I looked at some Origami sculptures, how they all start from being just a plain square sheet of paper, and end up being such fantastic sculptures, so different from each other!

It set me thinking about people, how they too start with almost the same amount of physical and mental resources, ( with a little variation due to birth and circumstances, of course) but end up being so diverse from each other. The same 24 hours to a day, the same two hands and feet, the same thinking mind, the same loving heart, to begin with. And they get folded in a hundred different ways, to become unique people with their unique abilities and failings!

And no matter what you begin with, you can always change yourself and your circumstances, to create your own unique identity!

About the Art

Origami (from ori meaning "folding", and kami meaning "paper" ) is the art of paper folding, which is often associated with Japanese culture. In modern usage, the word "origami" is used as an inclusive term for all folding practices, regardless of their culture of origin. The goal of is to transform a flat sheet of paper into a finished sculpture through folding and sculpting techniques. Modern origami practitioners generally discourage the use of cuts, glue, or markings on the paper.

There are many types of Origami practised today:

Action origami
This includes origami that flies, requires inflation to complete, or, when complete, uses the kinetic energy of a person's hands, applied at a certain region on the model, to move another flap or limb. 

Modular origami
This consists of putting a number of identical pieces together to form a complete model. Normally the individual pieces are simple but the final assembly may be difficult.


This is a technique for producing models with gentle curves rather than geometric straight folds and flat surfaces. The paper is dampened so it can be moulded easily, the final model keeps its shape when it dries. 

Pureland origami
This type adds the restrictions that only simple mountain/valley folds may be used, and all folds must have straightforward locations. 

Origami tessellations
This branch of origami includes a collection of figures filling a plane with no gaps or overlaps. Pleats are used to connect molecules such as twist folds together in a repeating fashion.

Kirigami is a Japanese term for paper cutting. Cutting was often used in traditional Japanese origami, but modern innovations in technique have made the use of cuts unnecessary.

Friday, January 16, 2015


Thought behind the thought

Are we just 'minds' or 'souls'? If yes, what is the role of our body in being the people we are? To hold and contain our 'selves' or more than that? Is it not exactly like a utensil which contains the food and helps it simmer and cook till it is ready to be served? It also gives temporary shape to the food, if has no shape of it's own!And at times, also becomes the platter on which it is served. Agreed that the food is more important, but hasn't the utensil played a big role in the way it has been cooked?
And if that is true, shouldn't we be treating our body with a little more respect? Removing the dents and polishing it once in a while if it goes lack lustre with age? Can we afford to ignore the utensil if we hope to cook great food?
And to take the analogy further, isn't our body a great instrument that helps hold and prepare the soul till it is offered to the Almighty?

Utensils are surely to be appreciated and glorified. A look at these installations created by contemporary Indian artist Subodh Gupta show you how! 

About the Art and the Artist
Subodh Gupta employs many of the original techniques of French conceptualist Marcel Duchamp by elevating the ready-made into an art object. He chooses signature objects of the Indian sub-continent and relocates them as art objects in monumental installations of stainless steel and tiffin-tins.

Gupta says he rarely uses people in his installations. "I've always been surrounded by people. But I play with objects. Very few people appear in my works," he says."I'm looking at surroundings. And I'm definitely looking at objects in a different way."

The Banyan tree installation, made out of clusters of steel utensils is titled 'Dada', the Hindi word for grandfather, or the patriarch of the family.The installation located on the lawn outside the Art gallery makes one see the real tress around in a totally different way, just like Gupta himself does, though his work.

Credits and Source of information:

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Gods and Humans

Thought behind the thought
Mythology tells us interesting tales about Gods. Their actions, their character, their way of facing the unique situations in life. It also tells us, that they had a lot of qualities that were essentially 'human' . Natural, isn't it, if we have created these 'Gods' in our own image!

Having said that, we have also assigned certain qualities to them that are most definitely aspirational in natrure, 'good' qualities that are difficult to attain, but desirable and hence 'godly'. That is what we mean when we call certain people 'godly' or 'god-like'.
Saints rise above the level of the ordinary and move towards the realm of godliness with their good thoughts and good deeds. Hagiology, the study of the lives of saints, does tell us that human beings can be gods too, if they imbibe in them all that is good in this world! 

Raja Ravi Verma, probably the most celebrated painter in Indian Art History, brought Indian Gods to life through his paintings. In fact, many a times, his paintings have defined for us Indians, what our mythological characters looked like. It is indeed a difficult task to portray Gods, and but natural to paint them in the image of man!

 Sita, Ravana and Jataayu

 Devi Saraswati

 Yashoda and Lord Krishna



A Maharashtrian lady

About the Artist
Raja Ravi Varma (29 April 1848 – 2 October 1906) was an Indian painter and artist from the princely state of Travancore who achieved recognition for his paintings depicting scenes from Indian literature and mythology including the epics of Mahabharata and Ramayana. He is considered among the greatest painters in the history of Indian art and his paintings are considered to be among the best examples of the fusion of Indian traditions with the techniques of European academic art.
Varma's paintings portrayed sari-clad women in graceful manner which became an important motif of that time, reproductions being found in many homes.
Apparently on the advice of the then Dewan (Prime Minister) of Travancore, T. Madhava Rao, Ravi Varma started a lithographic printing press in Ghatkopar, Mumbai in 1894 and later shifted it to Malavli near Lonavala, Maharashtra in 1899. The press was managed by Varma's brother, Raja Varma. In 1901 the press was sold to his printing technician from Germany, Mr. Schleizer and later closed down after it was gutted in an accidental fire.
The oleographs produced by the press were mostly of Hindu gods and goddesses in scenes adapted mainly from the Mahabharata, the Ramayana and the Puranas. These oleographs were very popular and continued to be printed in thousands for many years, even after his death in 1906.
He travelled throughout India in search of subjects. He often modelled Hindu Goddesses on South Indian women, whom he considered beautiful. Ravi Varma's representation of mythological characters has become a part of the Indian imagination of the epics. He is often criticized for being too showy and sentimental in his style but his work remains very popular in India. Many of his fabulous paintings are housed at Laxmi Vilas Palace, Vadodara.

Credits and Source of Information:

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

sun and spring

Thought behind the thought
The Sun is the most important celestial object. It gives us light and life, and in the Indian subcontinent, it dictates the climate, the crops, the festivals and the entire gamut of human activity through different times of the year. Of course, the monsoon is another equally important player!But he is a guest, the Sun is family.

Thinking of the onset of 'Uttarayan' or the northward journey of the Sun in the Indian skies, I had this visual of Sun, the groom, riding his processional horse chariot across the skies, blazing with beauty. The world left cold by his absence suddenly comes to life with his advent.

And spring follows slowly after him, just like a newly wedded bride in her yellow saree would, with slow shy steps. One new leaf at a time, with the promise of fertility. One new flower at a time, colouring her cheeks as she settles down in her new life on earth, only to become 'Summer' the confident the lady of the house in another two months and the prosperous 'Grihaswamini' draped in green soon enough.

These visuals are of course inspired by the customs and rituals in my part of the world, Maharashtra. Nature, and hence customs and analogies inspired by it change across the region, giving rise to a diverse and vibrant "Indian" culture.

Art, Craft and Design
Indian festivals have always been related very closely to the changes in climate and Nature has played a very important role in all the rites and rituals associated with them. Makar Sankrant, that celebrates the Uttarayan in Maharashtra, is one such festival. Newly wedded brides and new born babies are the heroes of the celebration, and they are dressed in black clothes and decked up in literally ' sweet' jewelry (halwa, in Marathi) , all made out of sugar !

In the olden times, when the ladies of the house did not take up 'Art" as a profession, they found these occasions perfect to practice and display their art.

The technique was difficult, beginning with the making of perfect 'halwa' or sugar beads. The proportions and consistency of the sugar syrup, the way the beads were made by constantly stirring the syrup around a central seed ( til or sesame / sabudana or sago/ khuskhus or poppy, depending on the size of halwa required), and then strung together, meticulousness and creativity was required at every step of jewelry making.

An amazing variety of designs can be seen in this intricate form of jewelry. It is an art and skill rapidly diminishing in the modern day and age, where women have neither the time nor the inclination to create or wear such jewelry. Sad, but true! May be, we could look at this afresh, as a work of 'art' rather than just another cumbersome piece of tradition?

Credits and Source of Information

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

simply complex

Thought behind the thought
'Complexity' is a word we seem to have grown wary of. We are all the time looking to 'simplify' things, all based on our belief that simple is beautiful. It is, indeed. No doubt about that! A Haiku says a lot in three lines. Great 'modern' art and architecture is minimalistic too. In fact, the aesthetic sensitivity of the modern world has moved towards 'minimalism' in every respect. Simple lines, simple forms, limited colour palettes, monochrome, even black and white, for that matter! Modern Indian women shun adornment, except for traditional functions or festivals.Anything more than a stark silhouette and minimum embellishment is ' bling'.

Is that really what the typical Indian aesthetic preference is like? Aren't we a society that likes 'complexity' and 'plularism' in design? All our traditional art forms have subscribed to 'maximalism' Be it clothes, jewelry, architecture, painting, sculpture, or language. Ornamentation is an important part of the Indian aesthetic. Trained in the 'Western' aesthetic value system, Indian designers today have come to believe that simplicity and 'minimalism' are the same thing!

Not true, actually. Something minimal, may not necessarily be good. It can be perfectly ordinary, if not designed sensitively. On the other hand, everything that is complex need not be far from'good'. There is a great beauty to be found in the most complex of designs. Our Embroidery, jewelry, rangoli stand testimony to the simple beauty that shines through the complexity of design. The seemingly complex, is at times, simply beautiful!

Art, Craft and Design
Like these 'Bhungas' or traditional houses of Kutch, Gujarat.Simple in concept and execution, they display great complexity in their 'decoration'. The interior space of the circular mud houses is beautifully decorated with mud plaster and mirror work that covers almost every inch of the space. The built in storage and furniture all come together under an elaborate surface treatment, as simple as it is complex!

These bhungas have withstood the extremes of climates, and the seismic forces in the arid deserts of kutch, keeping the inhabitants comfortable and safe for centuries.

 Everything about the `bhungas' is an art. Their outer walls are painted with mud colour motifs by women of the house every year during Diwali and exquisitely carved wood line the inner walls inlaid with mirrors.

 Their circular design and the steely mesh of mud plaster and twigs make them resist any wind pressure and quake. The `bhungas', which ``even a king would envy'' for its elaborate design and artistic elegance, have a light dome- shaped bamboo and thatched roof and a circular wall plastered with mud, twigs and dung.
Their thick walls keep the interior cool when the temperature rises to 46 degrees celsius in summer and warm when it drops to two degrees in winter.

Watch the video, to see how this seemingly complex  art is produced with simple materials by simple people!

Credits and source of information
'Bhunga': Kutch's engineering wonder
Habitats of Kutch – Bhunga Documented by Professor Nina Sabnani, Industrial Design Centre (IDC), IIT Bombay,

Monday, January 12, 2015

outside - in

Thought behind the Thought

Reading people has been an old hobby of mine. I love to understand and analyse  the people I meet, from the way they dress to the way they talk, to the topics they choose to discuss and their views on various issues and concepts.
I have realised that many a times, what people wear as their image becomes transperent as you go on peeling off layers, and only when all the irrelevant things are out of the picture, you see very clearly the kind of person they are.

If that is so, I thought, wouldn't it be a great self-improvement technique, if we can ourselves peel off all the superflous layers and understand what we really are?

Art, Craft and Design

Peeling off layers and bringing out the inner spirit is exactly and literally the technique employed in the making of the world famous Kailash temple at Ellora, the biggest monumental construction in the world which was dug out in the top to down manner from sheer rock and the most widespread rock-carved projects ever commenced.

It is said that the Kailash Temple was constructed in the mid of 8th century under the guidance of King Krishna I (757-775 CE) of the Rashtrakuta era for his Nepalese queen as she was missing the presence of Kailash Mountain after moving to the Deccan. The queen was a huge follower of Lord Shiva.

The multi-level temple with its pyramidal structure looks like Mount Kailash, the home of Lord Shiva, with a height of 98 feet and a width of 109 feet. It is assumed that 2,00,000 lakhs tonnes of rock was required to be separated out which needed seven thousand labourers and almost took 150 years to dig the whole structure. Earlier, the temple was covered with white plaster which made it look similar to snow-covered Mount Kailash.

The rock-cut temple and has four parts- the body of the temple, the entrance gate, the Nandi shrine and a group of five shrines surrounding the courtyard.

The main body of the temple occupies a parallelogram, 45 metres by 33 metres, with sections of its sides projecting at intervals. It stands on a high plinth which is carved with sculptures of elephants and lions. The larger halls of the temples are decorated with images of Brahmanical Gods. The tower of the temple (
28.5 metres high) is in three diminishing tiers and is crowned by a cupola.

The gateway of the temple is double storeyed. On either side of the shrine of Nandi are two columns ( each
15.6 metres high)  having a Trishul, the ensign of Shiva. 

The Kailasha temples resemble the Chalukya temples at Pattadakal but it is far more refined in its design than the temples at Pattadakal. It was considered to be the model for all the temples in South India. The temple has many sculptural designs depicting events from the Ramayana and Mahabharata. There is a scene in a relief of Ravana trying to shake Mount Kailasha and Shiva pressing Ravana into the cavern of the mountain with his feet.