Saturday, February 14, 2015


Thought behind the thought:
A friend of mine was visiting India after almost two decades of nomadic existence. This person has practically got wheels for heels and just does not remain in one city for long. He has travelled the world on some illustrious assignments and continues to do so. We got talking and he asked me the question I dreaded all morning, “So, what do you do? Where have you been? I answered with my usual nonchalance, “Guess what, I have been right where I always was, haven't even changed my pin code in last four decades”! He stopped looked at me quizzically and then he said something that changed my perspective of looking at me and my life forever. He said, “At least you BELONG somewhere.

About the art: 

Sometimes art too belongs to a place. It cannot be simply learnt and practiced elsewhere. Bidri art is a handicraft of historical importance and hails from the city of Bidar in Karnataka, India. King Allauddin Shah of the Behmani dynasty in the 14th Century was the patron and promoter of Bidri art. He was instrumental in bringing master craftsmen from Iran and Kirman and training local artisans in the historic city of Bidar. He was also involved in creating a marketplace for Bidri craft. Bidriware has become synonymous with Bidar and the art is rooted to the place of its discovery.

Range of Bidri products such as plates, bowl, jewellery box, bangles and clock.

Decorative Bell designed with poppy plants and flowers in Taihnishan work.

Bangles in Bidri artwork

Swan with simple design motifs

Intricately designed floral motifs in blend of silver and golden glitters

Bidri art has gained the Geographical Indication tag to certify that this product cannot be made anywhere else except Bidar. This is because artisans use blackened mud from the caves inside the Bidar fort to prepare the base material. This mud has not been exposed to sunlight for centuries and has some special chemical qualities. Bidriware cannot be made without this mud. Artisans prepare moulds of zinc and copper and etch beautiful designs on the surface. Silver wires or plates are hemmed in to the designs and the item is immersed in a chemical solution. This gives the body a distinct black colour to the mould. The shining silver pattern stands out in the black background. The black colour does not fade at all. The Salar Jung Museum in Hyderabad has Bidri artefacts that are over 500 years old. Many Royal families own exquisite Bidri artefacts and furniture.

Information and photos credits:
Photos: Gopichand T.

Friday, February 13, 2015


Thought behind the thought:

                 While rummaging through some old photographs I came across this one.

She was sitting on a little platform outside her house in a sleepy town between Manali and Rohtang Pass. The entire landscape around her was cold and colourless. The colours on and around her made her stand out like a cherry atop creamy white frosting. I began to wonder does landscape influence art? Is the lack of colour or monotone the reason for creating colourful art? The dull sand dunes of Rajasthan and the monotonous white mountains of North India have given us some of our most vibrant and colourful traditional arts. The same applies to other parts of the world. Colour brings life and vibrancy to the lives of people living  these dull, tough and remote places.

About the Art:
The Tibetan art has always intrigued me. The way colour is woven into garments, handicrafts and houses is almost magical. Tibetan Refugee Self Help Centre in Darjeeling, India is a rehabilitation Centre for the Tibetan refugees. It was established in 1st October 1959, after they followed Dalai Lama and escaped from Tibet. The production of Tibetan handicraft is the centre's main activity. It is situated at Lebong and locally known as the Hermitage. Mr. Gyalo Thondup, who was the one of the founding members, started this centre from funds raised from local charity. The centre started with four workers and now as about 130 families as a part of it. The centre allows you to gain insight into the lifestyle of these refugees, who earn their livelihood by selling their art. Tibetan craftsmen make exquisite handicraft items that are sold at the shop in the centre. This provides them with a livelihood and makes them self sufficient.

Dyed wool 

The carpet making section 

Colourful products on sale at the store

Thursday, February 12, 2015

the heart

Thought behind the thought:
As adults there are only a few blessed ones that hit the pillow and fall asleep. The rest are twiddling their fingers and staring at the ceiling fan, as it breaks the stillness of the night with its droning sounds. The head is full of thoughts that seem to be performing gymnastic stunts. Out of all these thoughts the most nagging ones are the little wants and aspirations that are ever so demanding that they just don’t allow you to catch your forty winks. The mental juggling continues till you eventually fall asleep of exhaustion from thinking too much.

About the art:
I am taken back to the time when my kids were very little and I used to try and get them to sleep. The faster I wanted them to fall asleep they longer they would take. After endless story telling sessions I would fall asleep out of exhaustion and they would sleep only after that. Dr. Seuss Sleep Book was my hope it may not have done much for the kids but even today when I pick the book to read a yawn is only seconds away. The kids used to love the book. The incredible writing and rhyming was really a big hit with them. The quintessential illustrations of all Dr. Seuss books have left an indelible mark on all his readers. Dr. Seuss wrote this book way back in 1962 when the life of an urban parent was still easy. Technological advancements had not yet made the parent available 24X7. Life was slow paced and parenting was a different ball game altogether.

Cut to 2011, parenting is now nothing short of a juggling game. Parents are on a tight schedule and the clock and the phone seemed to have made them slaves. Unclear future, lack of job security and skyrocketing bills have made parents edgy and cranky. Nuclear families, divorced parents, single parents and urban life style means there is little or no help available in raising kids. Obviously after a long hard day when children refuse to sleep the parents are completely exasperated. When Adam Mansbach's daughter Vivien was two, she would take up to two hours to fall asleep. Exhausted and exasperated, one night Mansbach posted a note on Facebook, "Look out for my forthcoming children’s book, Go the — to Sleep".

Macy Halford, writing for The New Yorker, said "the book is super funny, and the art, by Ricardo Cort├ęs, is perversely sweet, so sweet and genuine that it made me cringe

What followed was a satirical book that simply went viral. Every parent connected to the frustration that Mansbach expresses in the book. In India we are extremely cautious about the language that we use around children and I am sure so is the case world over. Yet the helplessness, frustration, anger and guilt of not being a great parent are universal feeling as well. This is a sleep book for parents to get a good laugh at themselves. Adam Mansbach came up with a child friendly version as well called Seriously, Just Go To Sleep. He removed the expletives and changed the content to make it more children friendly for example; the stanza about the child's thirst was changed from

"I know you're not thirsty, that's bullshit. 

Stop lying. Lie the fuck down, my darling, and sleep" to 

"I know you're not thirsty. 

You just had a drink. 

Stop goofing around now, and sleep

The wants in our life are like these little kids. They have to be handled with compassion and patience. Just like parenting you do get better with time handling these nagging wants.

Credits & Information:

Wednesday, February 11, 2015


Thought behind the thought:

I keep getting these annoying messages on the phone from a company that claims to design clothes for the vertically challenged or horizontally endowed people like me. I don't know if the aim is to patronise or insult but when someone tells me to my face that last two precious days remain for me to buy my extra extra large outfit that will turn me into diva, I don't know if I should be excited or irritated . Well, advertisers are dream sellers and then who in their right minds would not want an image that makes an impact and they feel better about themselves. So if it's dreams you want to sell why sell in small sizes make it XXXL and that too with an obvious discount and bargain offer. The claims are to be discounted and empty wallet is what you did not bargain for.

About the art: 
The words extra large, instantly bring billboards to my mind. Huge canvases mean equally huge challenges for a designer, to grab someone’s attention in an instant. Bold impactful and ingenious, billboards have taken a lot of flak over the years and have been even called ‘visual pollutants’ as they completely crowd and gorge the urban skyline. Billboard design entails, capturing attention in an instant, making a strong statement and increasing sales. The first two get a window of only two to three seconds to work on the audience while the third is a more long term process. Some billboards are extremely creative ideas that leave us completely intrigued.

This billboard stuck on the ground floor of a pet emporium called Jakpetz in Jakarta is a unique concept with it's horizontal placement and birds eye view focus. The billboard when viewed from the upper floors  the store is interactive as the people walking over the dog in the lobby area appear like fleas on the dog !

Again in the billboard above the the use of site and props available on site is the factor of intrigue. The humor introduced and the sensitivity towards the topic is handled deftly. A sure shot second look is guaranteed as the whole concept really makes you involved and curious. People can be seen stopping on the road and wanting to take a closer look.

This one is an example of larger than life. The useage of exaggeration as a form of creative concept can clearly be in seen in this advertisement. The message is loud and clear and there is no need for any tag lines in a visual that is this impactful.

This billboard for a natural hair color, makes a delightful use of colors in nature. Again the placement is such that at different times of the day the wonderful hues of the sky render the models hair in different shades, through the cut out in the billboard. This continues till night falls and the hair is jet black. A simple and clever advertisement.

The Economist, what can one say? Anyone coming in close proximity of this business magazine  is sure to be 'enlightened'. The billboard does exactly that. As the pedestrians on the walkway comes under the bulb , motion sensors light up the bulb and the visual created says it all !

A camera advertisement that gives you a taste of what celebrities feel under the deluge of paparazzi. An innocent passerby walking from a Seoul subway station to the mall does not notice he is on the red carpet till the light box billboard comes to life with the flashes going off as if the person were a celebrity. The carpet leads the person to the mall, to the store where he will end up buying the Nikon D700.

Wooden finish tiles so real that they seem to have roots emerging from them. An interesting concept. The scale of the realistic roots is what grabs our attention.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

the past

Thought behind the thought:

Most of us have a bit of our past that’s a constant nagging companion. We carry it with us, at times, all our lives. It could be anything from a life changing accident, a failed marriage, a broken heart, a missed opportunity, losing a dear one, suffering from a terrible illness or simply an overall sense of failure. The degree of the wound and its extent could vary but the fact is that we are simply bogged down by the weight of this excess baggage. We need to stop carrying it around. Place it down at some point in our life and move ahead in such a way that not once are we tempted to look behind.

About the art: 
Art is many things. It could be an exploration of one's identity or simply the need to create. One way or the other art is a constructive process. It is a process that always leaves you with a sense of fulfilment. It is no wonder that art is now used as a form of therapy. Cancer patients and their families go through a living hell that one cannot imagine. Even if one is lucky enough to beat and survive cancer the scars remain forever. Art therapy is known to have brought a bit of hope to survivors and patients and their families. It brings tremendous joy,sense of accomplishment and positivity to their lives.

Art work presented by patients at UF Health Proton Therapy Institute, Florida undertaken as a part of their Artist in residence program.

Marie Butler offers cancer patients an emotional outlet through activities like music, painting, photography and, of course, weaving. The AIM (Arts in Medicine) team has created popular classes in music (drumming and harp), painting, photography, journal writing and fibre arts that are part art class and part support group. The AIM program is led by director and clinical psychologist Dr. Shawn Steggles, registered psychologist Dr. Jill Turner and secretary Helene Sommer along with art therapist Marie Butler.


Monday, February 9, 2015


Thought behind the thought:
Some of the closest friends I have are surprisingly not my childhood ones. These are more recent friendships but they seem way deeper than some of my associations that have been there since childhood. Friendship is more about giving than receiving. It is about being non-judgemental and accepting. The most important aspect is listening. We are more eager to talk than listen. The listening friend is the one for keeps because it is with such a friend that we open our hearts and never hide ourselves.

About the Art:
This was a tough one. How does art communicate a sublime action like listening? After scouring over multitudes of artwork, painting and allied material I stumbled upon these wonderful paintings by Sandra Bierman. These were all about listening. Although the subjects are people and cats her paintings communicate the warmth exchanged during these heart to heart talks. It talks about dropping facades and bonding on a very deep rooted level. A cat is almost used as a metaphor for listening. Their demeanour and quietude make them great listeners.

Cats under the Table


Golden Time

Cat In Window

Interestingly none of her paintings have reference images. They are a part of an intuitive process like an abstract painter. Somewhere the artist is trying to bring her inner need for tranquillity, strength and well being into her paintings. 16th Century Italian masters, Mexican masters, Chinese and Japanese classical art are things that have influenced her art. Her depiction of the figures is unique and often portrays grounded women with bare earthy feet and large caring hands .The tabby cats have a presence in the paintings that bring a calm stillness to the whole imagery. It’s almost as if a conversation is happening on the canvas that you can sense but not partake in.


Sunday, February 8, 2015

fact and imagination

Thought behind the Thought

Isn't reality always a combination of fact and imagination? And we choose what we want to see and believe? In fact, don't we all define reality as we see it? Some see more of facts, some prefer to colour it with their imagination, a sort of enhanced reality, in a way! Some don't see facts at all, and build up their own reality from their imagination.
So, it is always layered, this world that we see! The only difficulty is in knowing for sure what is fact, and what is imagination! Once you can confidently tell which is which, you can get the true picture.

About the Art

The art of Matthew Cox, brings these two layers together in the most innovative way! Who would believe that X-Rays, those very true pictures of people that clearly show them inside out, could be embroidered with the artist's imagination to produce such amazing works of art?

Matthew Cox is a Philadelphia- based artist who embraces and joins a variety of media to produce several thematic series of work. Medical x-rays and embroidery, couture and crime, rubber stamps, short -story prose and paint all layer toward a darkly comic and anachronistic impression of the human condition in the twenty-first century.

This is what he says about his work:

"Redefinition motivates me to create my embroidered x-rays. The stark clash of two such divergent materials, cloth and plastic, is the simple catalyst. One tactile and labor intensive, the other technical, and quickly a finished product. There’s a wide historical context, one ancient, decorative, and artisanal, the other contemporary and devoid of aesthetic intention. By simply placing one of these materials on top of the other the understood purpose of each is redefined.

For me, stitching has a nurturing aspect and acts as care giving or healing to the injured, a socially feminine sort of action, while the x-ray itself can be considered masculine and unemotional. Finally, my own recognition of what is beautiful [these separately became appealing to me at about the same time]. As an artist who takes on tedious, labor-intensive projects, I am also reacting to the ever-increasing presence of photography in contemporary art – by introducing the process of labor over the quick, slickness of film."

Credits and Source of Information: