Saturday, January 31, 2015

the cloud

Thought behind the Thought
Clouds are fascinating. Dense and transperent at the same time, they float about the sky forming an everchanging sculpture bathed in sunlight during the day, and a beautiful veil hiding the moon and the stars at night.
There is so much one can learn from clouds! They are very much a part of the cycle of life, absorbing life in the form of water when it rises up to meet them, and also giving it away to the earth when its time. Hold what you can, till you must. Give it away when the time is right, and move on just like the cloud. Travel light! And stay miles above the earth!!

About the Art
To recreate the cloud sculptures of the skies is definitely not an easy job! But Berndnaut Smilde does just that. He creates clouds in the interior spaces using water vapour and his artistic sensitivity, and creates ephemeral though beautiful art, that he captures in equally beautiful photographs!

It is indeed interesting to see how he creates art, literally out of thin air!

Berndnaut Smilde’s work consists of installations, sculptures and photos. Using his daily surroundings and spaces as motives, Smilde is interested in the temporal nature of construction and deconstruction. His work refers to both the physical state of a building as well as a moment of revelation that depicts either hope or fragility. Smilde analyses spaces and their appearance and takes them apart to investigate their unique details and features. His artistic point of view often centers on duality. His works question: inside and outside, temporality, size, the function of materials and architectural elements.

Berndnaut Smilde (b.1978, Groningen, Netherlands) lives and works in Amsterdam. He has exhibited across The Netherlands and also in Toronto, Taipei, Istanbul, Dublin, Paris, London and San Francisco. In 2013, he opened his first large scale solo exhibition in the US at Land of Tomorrow in Louisville, Kentucky, and guest curated a show at the Bonnefantenmuseum in Maastricht. His Nimbus series was recognised by TIME Magazine as one of the "Top Ten Inventions of 2012". He was a resident artist at the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin in 2008. Smilde received his BA in 2001 from the Minerva Academy and his MA in 2005 from the Frank Mohr Institute, both in The Netherlands.

Source and Credits for information

Friday, January 30, 2015


Thought behind the Thought
I almost always get it wrong! Push a door that is to be pulled, and vice versa!! And most of the times, it is only because I have not read the signs. Whether it is because I am in a hurry, or engrossed in my own world, the fact remains that I get it wrong because I haven't paid attention, or plain ignored, the signs. 
And that is what happens in relationships too, isn't it? There are doors to people's minds and hearts that you want to open and each door has it's own trick, it's own set of hinges, it's own unique way of opening. Read it right, and the door opens smoothly. Get it wrong, and you stay out!

Art, Craft and Design
Doors have always occupied an important place in Indian traditional Architecture and craft. Various materials, techniques and embellishments have been employed to produce amazing doors in different parts of the country, from the woodwork of Kashmir, to the fort 'darwajas' of Rajasthan to the timber doors of Chettinad.
But a fascinating set of doors or 'kawads' (local hindi term for door) that tell a story? It is an art form that is as engaging as it is visually appealing.

"KAWAD" is a 500 year old traditional Rajasthani art form, that narrates a story by opening successive doors of a wooden box.
The wooden box, both a travelling theatre and a pop-up story book, was the prop used by the artists for their story narration. Beautiful pictures were painted on the surfaces of the doors, 6 to 12 on either side, (mainly pictures narrating traditional stories from the Ramayan or Mahabharat) and the story unfolded as doors opened, one by one, to reveal successive events and scenes. 

There was even a 'garbha griha' inside with paintings of gods, making the box a travelling temple for the Kawadis or Jangid Bramhins who made them and practised the art of Kawad storytelling, also called 'kawad bachana'. Also included within the wooden cupboard was a drawer, in which the audience could drop their tips when the performance was over.
In the days when there were no schools, the Kawads were both education as well as entertainment for the children in the villages of Rajasthan.

Like all traditional artforms, the Kawad has also been passed on from one generation to another, and is still alive in parts of Rajasthan. Newer woodworking techniques as well as new themes and stories are now a part of this art, which had the honour of being showcased on the Rajasthan tableau at the Republic day Parade in 2014.

Credits and Source of information

Thursday, January 29, 2015

reach out

Thought behind the Thought

I am an avid sky watcher. Ever since I was a little child, I have been fascinated with the sky, the stars, and what lies beyond. Figuring out the patterns in the sky and trying to link it up in stories that I have read, imagining the celestial bodies moving about with their own forces and intentions is still a source of wonderment and joy to me.

And so it must have been, with our ancestors who gazed up at the skies. Almost all civilisations in the world developed their own astronomical theories and beliefs and tried to make sense of the world around, and of our position in the scheme of things.

And to finally reach out to the stars, both literally and figuratively!

Art, Design, Architecture

The 'Jantar Mantar', one of the most fascinating demonstrations of Indian astronomical study and construction, is a complex of built 'instruments' that measure heavenly phenomenon. Maharaja Jai Singh II of Jaipur, a patron of science and arts, constructed five such astronomical observatories between 1727 and 1834. Situated at Delhi, Ujjain, Varanasi, Mathura and Jaipur, these observatories are also fascinating visual art ... a striking combination of geometrical forms at large scale.
The grandest of these is the Jantar Mantar at Jaipur, and also the best preserved. Built in stone, a material that is perhaps as immortal as the science itself, the instruments are very accurately designed and crafted. Marble is used where the surfaces are clearly visible and great accuracy is also required. The observatory is still in use for both calculation and teaching purposes and still retains it's precision and accuracy. The various instruments are called 'Yantras' (Sanskrit word for instrument or machine)

Small Samrat Yantra
This is a sundial. It consists of a right-angled triangle, the hypotenuse of which is parallel to the earth's axis and which casts a shadow on one of the two quadrants below it. Each edge of the quadrants is marked in hours, minutes, and degrees. It gives the time to an accuracy of twenty seconds.

Large Samrat Yantra
An enormous sundial that towers majestically over the observatory. It operates on the same principles as its smaller counterpart, but it is ten times bigger and thus accurate to two, rather than twenty seconds. 

Dhruva Yantra
A brass instrument for finding the position of the Pole Star at night, it also serves to show the position of the twelve zodiac signs, each comprising 30 degrees of the celestial circle, and measures the declination of the sun 

Narivalya Yantra
A sundial with two masonry dials, one facing south and the other north. The former is used when the sun is in the Southern Hemisphere, from September 21 to March 21, and the latter when the sun is in the Northern Hemisphere, from March 21 to September 21. The central iron pinpoints to the pole. At noon the sun falls on the north-south line; before noon the shadow will lie to the west, and after noon to the east. The time is read in the normal way.

Large and Small Kranti Yantra
An astrolabe made of masonry and brass. One of the circles rotates in the plane of the equator, the other in the plane of ecliptic. It is used for the direct measurement of the longitude and latitude of the celestial bodies, and it can be used day or night.

Raj Yantra
"The king of instruments," this astrolabe is a map of the visible portions of the celestial sphere, which can be used to calculate a vast amount of astronomical data. A telescope is fixed to a rod that passes through the central hole. The back of the yantra is fitted with a bar used for sighting. The plain disk to the left is intended for use as a blackboard, to record observations and calculations as they are made.

Unnathamsa Yantra
A huge graduated brass circle used for finding the altitudes of celestial bodies. The circle can be revolved so that observations can be made at any time, day or night, and the sunken steps allow any part of the circle to be read.

Dakshina Yantra
A wall built aligned along the north-south meridian. The inscribed arcs on either face of the wall are made of marble and marked in degrees and minutes. It was used for observing the position and movement of heavenly bodies when passing over the meridian (an imaginary circle linking the poles that the sun crosses at midday).

Rashivalayas Yantra
Twelve sundials, one for each sign of the zodiac. Each instrument works in exactly the same way as the samrat yantras. The instruments have been so constructed that one is available at the instant each zodiacal sign crosses the meridian; hence they enable observations to be made approximately every two hours.

Jai Prakash Yantra
This elegant instrument acts as a double check on all the other instruments and is unique to the Jantar Mantar. The Jai Prakash measures the "rotation" of the sun. It consists of two hemispherical cavities set in the ground. They are complementary; if put together they would form one complete hemisphere, which would be a map of the heavens.
There is an underground passage connecting the two bowls. This is a fine example of Jai Singh's love of things that were both practical and aesthetically pleasing.

Large Ram Yantra
This and its smaller version have the same function. What the Jai Prakash does with a sunken hemisphere, the Ram Yantra does with an upright building. These two structures fit together to make one whole instrument. A sector in one building corresponds to a space in the other. The yantra is used to find the altitude and the azimuth of the sun. 

Chakra Yantra
A graduated brass circle that can be revolved about a diameter parallel to the earth's axis, this gives the ascension and declination – that is, angle of an object from the equator. 

Diganta Yantra
A simple and useful instrument to measure the azimuth, that is, the angle of any celestial body with the horizon. 

Wednesday, January 28, 2015


Thought behind the Thought
Are words really communicators of truth? or do they hide it, partially behind a veil? When we use words, aren't we showing only a glimpse of what actually is, and in the way we want it to be seen? 
Isn't it exactly like a beautiful woman, whose face is hidden by a veil ... her beauty only partially revealed ? And her face made more beautiful by the thin veil that hides it?

About the Art:
The veil has fascinated artists all over the world. Painters and sculptors have, in their own way, tried to capture it's mystery and beauty in their preferred medium, even one as difficult as stone! The images below show the work of three Italian sculptors of the nineteenth century, all on the same theme. The technique used in creating something as transperent as a veil from material as hard and opaque as marble, is indeed amazing! And so is the paradox!

'The Veiled Vestal': Marble sculpture by Raffaele Monti

In Ancient Rome, Vestals were virgin priestesses, whose lives were dedicated to the Godess Vesta, and were entrusted with the task of protecting the fire that burnt on Her altar. They were considered important for the safety of Rome.
Raffaele Monti (1818-1881) was an Italian sculptor, author and poet. He studied under his Father, the noted sculptor Gaetano Matteo Monti and received extensive patronage at a young age. He earned recognition as a leading sculptor for the art he created for the sixth Duke of Devonshire, the "Veiled Vestal", a figure with an illusionistic veil. A bust, based on this work, cast in Parisian porcelain by Copeland titled "The Bride" was issued in 1861 by the Crystal Palace Art Union. The sculpture became one of the most popular busts ever created.
Monti produced sculptures working in marble, but he also created in metals and porcelain, while he remained active in the applied arts.

Other Italian sculptors, also worked on the same theme  around that period, which saw the rise of the Italian Nationalist movement, and the theme of the veiled lady that symbolised Italy.

'The Veiled Virgin' : Marble Sculpture by Giovanni Strazza

The Statue, depicted the Blessed Virgin Mary, also symbolised Itay, and was a prime example of the Italian Nationalist Art Movement called 'Risorgimento'. Strazza's work is a technical triumph that surpasses much contemporary art of the 19th century.

"Veiled Lady" Marble sculpture by Pietro Rossi

Credit and Source of information:

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

new perspective

Thought behind the thought:

Recently I went to a nearby Yoga class, to enquire about one of their programmes. As I passed the exercise area there were a bunch of women, each at a different stage, of attempting to do the Shirshasana. The Shirshasana is a Yoga pose, where the person needs to rest their head on the ground and raise their legs to the skies, either in a supported or unsupported way and assume a completely inverted position. The struggle that the ladies were undergoing was both awe inspiring and humorous, if I may say so! It must be a weird feeling when everything literally turns upside down in front of us! How out of sorts we would become. It’s interesting how the world would start looking totally new and different to us from this angle. We need to perform a mental Shirshasana on most things in life that we are dogmatic about. At least that way we might finally get a fresh perspective on things!

About the art:

Camera or a canvas normally captures the subject from only one viewing angle. We get to see the story from only one side. That is true about life as well. What that we think and perceive is based only on what we look at, so our angle of perception becomes vital in our making judgements about the same. In Cubist paintings objects are studied, broken into parts and reassembled in an abstracted form. Cubism allows the subject to be depicted from a multitude of viewpoints. Cubism was a movement that talked about breaking away from the single perspective style of painting that dominated the art world since the Renaissance period. Here the subject matter was not delivered on a platter but dissected and presented in such a way that each time you looked at the painting you discovered a new angle or nuance to it. Cubism was a path breaking style and its proponent Picasso, needless to say, was a master artist. 
Picasso was influenced by the artists like Paul C├ęzanne and Henri Rousseau’s in his early days. They, along with the inspirations that he drew from of archaic and tribal art led Picasso to start adding more weight to figures in his paintings. This personally evolved style set him on the path towards Cubism that revolutionized practically all of modern art forever. One could dedicate an entire blog to Picasso and still only scratch the surface so we will take a look at only three paintings of his that fall in line with what is expressed in our quote for the day.

Portrait of Gertrude Stein
This painting belongs to the time Picasso was evolving his own style between 1905 and 1906. Influenced by the archaic Iberian sculpture, Picasso treated the facial features in the painting in a very specific way. The face has very simple masses, seems sculpted and the eyes are heavy lidded like in masks. One can see how the face is represented as a series of flat planes. The painting has echoes of Cubism that followed in his subsequent works. Gertrude Stein was an author and a close friend of the artist. Picasso’s growth is attributed to the association and patronage of Gertrude Stein.
A bit of trivia about the painting is that she supposedly sat ninety times for the artist. He abandoned the project saying "I can't see you any longer when I look"! He is supposed to have completed it a while later without the model in front of him.

Bowl of Fruit, Violin and Bottle 

This painting belongs to his Synthetic Cubism style. One can see the use of variety of elements in the painting like painted dots, silhouettes, grains of sand to highlight the depicted objects. First the objects at hand are mentally dissected and the new whole objects are synthesized along with colour and texture. The precursor to Cubism was Analytical Cubism where colour took a backseat and forms and volumes of objects were concentrated upon. This combination of painting and mixed media shows how the artist handled the colour and textural aspects of the painting. Once again the treatment brought about a new way of handling these elements in painting. The subject of the painting talks about the Parisian life for the artists and how simple objects placed on the table could be perceived in such a unique manner.

The Three Musicians 

The said musicians in the painting are Picasso in the centre, as the Harlequin, masked and dressed in a diamond-patterned costume. His old friends Guillaume Apollinaire and Max Jacob sit on either side of the artist. Everything in this painting is made up of flat shapes like the brown stage on which the three musicians are performing. The musicians are made up of overlapping shapes that resemble a single paper cut out and it’s difficult so clearly say where one musician starts and the other ends. Again a very different interpretation of human forms is seen here. Lively colours, angular shapes, and flat patterns are the highlights of the painting. Actually the whole idea of making live objects seem like still life was a new approach which shook the art world. Gertrude Stein is supposed to have joyfully announced on seeing the painting that she had at last understood what it represented. The Three Musicians was meant to be a still life!


Monday, January 26, 2015

security blanket

Thought behind the thought: 

We love to hold on to things that make us feel secure. No matter how old or tattered they get we can't bring ourselves to part from them. Old pair of pyjamas or a weather-beaten blanket provides us with a comfort that unparalleled with any designer piece of clothing. Yet sometimes these security blankets are people, jobs or homes and we can’t seem to part with them that easily. There is a good chance that if we let go and take the plunge we may get a fresh new start that takes away all the monotony and humdrum of day to day life.

About The Art: 
Rummaging through old blankets and sweaters, I was trying to find things to donate to an NGO run by a friend. In India we have a very peculiar lot of blankets that one will not ever find elsewhere in the world. Godhadis', Rajais’, Dupptis' and Panghrunas are some Marathi words that mean blankets. Each is made in its own peculiar style. While Godhadis' and Dupptis' are made from recycled cloth from Saris and Shawls, Panghruns or Chaddars are cotton blankets woven in mills on looms. Typically “Solapuri Chaddars”or Panghruns are manufactured in a city called Solapur in Maharashtra, India. Srimant Madhavrao Peshve was a historical leader that invited weavers from Andhara Pradesh to Solapur for establishing the industry. The city has has grown into a strong industry in the last 150 years.

Solapur is the world's second largest and Asia’s number one city with maximum power mills.It boasts of having about 16,000 power looms in the city. Job opportunities to 40,000-45000 people in the city have been created. A 100% cotton yarn is used in the manufacturing of Chaddars.

Some of the steps involved in making the chaddar or Panghrun are as follows:

A traditional loom
  1. Yarn is first assembled on the doubling machine where two strands of thread are made into one to give it strength.
  2. Further they are wound onto bobbins.
  3. After the doubling machine the thread is put on a rolling machine to convert them into hangs or latkans.
  4. The hangs are sent for colouring to the dyeing section of the mill.
  5. The pure white cotton yarn is dyed into several attractive and bright colors in the dyeing unit.
  6. The coloured hangs are squeezed to remove any trace of excess water and are then left to dry out in the bright sun outdoors.
  7. Designers make patterns which are punched on to a hardboard sheet.
  8. The hardboard sheet with the punched design is called Jacquard , the sheets are also known as Jacquard Sheets because of the designs they carry.
  9. The Jacquard sheet is installed in the upper part of the loom.
  10. In the power looms the yarn is wrapped on bar or beams and passes through the coded Jacquard.
  11. It comes down right up to the weft where the shuttle facilitates the weaving of the straight and cross threads to entwine properly.
  12. The threads are perfectly interlocked and the pattern starts to take form and shape.
  13. The sheets are available in lighter and heavier versions depending on amount of yarn used in the manufacturing process.

Sunday, January 25, 2015


Thought behind the thought: 

Nature has its own operating system. Some unknown programmer has developed it millions of years ago and everything manages to fall in with the master plan without fail. Driving down to the rural outskirts of Pune we came across one such happy, bubbly Sunflower field. How orderly were the flowers? Each soaking its own share of the sun. Not greedy, not lazy not one of them was complacent. All of them moved in tandem in the set path as if the drill had been taught to them ages back. The Sun was the master and not one flower dared to look away. Nature amazes us, inspires us and most definite teaches us. Are we really as observant as we should be?

About the Art: 

Biomimicry is an approach to innovation and design that seeks sustainable solutions to human challenges and problems by emulating nature's patterns and strategies that are time tested. Biomimicry uses either the form or the function of a natural object or both and studies its workings. Based upon which, a solution can be found for bettering human existence in a sustainable way. Sunflowers - An Electric Garden in Mueller Village, Austin Texas, contains fifteen flower-shaped photovoltaic solar panels that are modelled on the form and workings of the Sunflowers.

According to the designers, public art team Harries/Heder, the solar SunFlowers were meant to celebrate the message of ecological stewardship championed by the developers and the city of Austin. These panels collect the sun's energy during the day to power the installation's complex series of blue LED lights which are lit up at night. Not only does it make the Mueller Village energy efficient it actually has been returning electricity to the city's power grid since monitoring began.

The landmarks website allows one to monitor the energy collection in real time. This is a public art installation and visitors can follow the cobalt blue trail on the property very easily as they stand out in the surrounding landscape. These industrial flowers are supposed to represent the devotion of Texas City to energy conservation. So far the flowers have managed to produce 300,000 kilowatt hours of energy and the numbers are growing. This is worth 451024 miles of carbon emission from an average American car.