Saturday, February 21, 2015

glass egos

Thought behind the thought: 
Last month I got a surprise rare chance, to meet and briefly work with an eminent, well known and respected personality from my field. Personally I looked up to this person as one of my inspirations and as a role model as a human being. As I interacted with this person on a project, I soon realised that in fact, in spite of his stature, this person was highly insecure! A mammoth ego just makes it difficult for anyone to navigate around you. It actually hinders you from getting the respect you deserves. Ego makes you petty, isolated and distant. In any field the people who garner respect are the ones who give it. Humility is something that instantly makes the person approachable and agreeable. Keeping time, returning calls and common courtesy are not difficult things to practice, especially with juniors and subordinates that look up to you as a role model .Yet in some cases ego is a blinder that simply does not permit you to reason.

About the Art:
One can draw so many parallels between blown egos and blown glass. Both happen in highly volatile environments. In each case the individual is the one controlling the outcome of the situation. Both are tricky delicate and intense situations that can lead to a potential disaster. Yet the one thing that sets these two processes miles apart from each other is that ego boosting is a destructive and negative exercise while glassblowing is a highly specialized, intricate, creative and constructive one. 

The Seattle artist's pieces inspired by tree leaves, using reticello technique (glass "canework" in a basketlike weave), are lively and fascinating.

Beautiful vessel forms that have his very own signature style. Contemporary yet inspired from classical forms.

Bright, radiant colours with intricate detailing and textural quality are a part of his unique style.

Video link below shows how this wonderful acorn is made .

One such prolific glassblower is Dante Marioni. Dante Marioni’s has been described as someone who has created a niche for himself, international recognition and acclaim for his elegant and inventive work in glass. His signature style is that of pure of classical forms executed in glass by an American glassblower. His inspiration is the classical Greek and Etruscan forms and a reflection of the rich history of classical Mediterranean pottery and bronzes can be seen in his work. He has strong roots in the glass tradition which is no surprise being the son of glass pioneer Paul Marioni. He was taught traditional Venetian glassblowing techniques from some of the greatest masters in contemporary glass world. In a review on ARTnews Richard Speer explains how the process of glassblowing is a subjective one. “For artists who work in glass, divergences between the techniques and temperaments required for blowing, fusing, and kilncasting can be as wide as the divides between drawing, painting, and sculpture. While blowing is a ruggedly physical and time-limited pursuit in which split-second decisions radically affect outcomes, coldworking generally affords a more deliberative approach.


Thursday, February 19, 2015


Thought behind the thought:
We are in a ‘no strings attached’ but ‘constantly connected’ paradoxical world today. We talk on our Bluetooth devices at the cost of looking almost insane, store information on clouds instead of files and look for Wi-Fi instead of washrooms when we enter a building. We speak in English yet half the words we use constantly did not exist two decades ago. Selfies, dongles, Wi-Fi, data cards and what have you! Technology is affecting every facet of our lives and changing it drastically forever.

About the Art:
Arthur C. Clarke had predicted ‘the tablet’ in 1968, which he called the NewsPad, in a novel that was turned into the movie 2001- A Space Odyssey. Apple launched iPad in 2010 two years after Clarke’s death. Clarke was a legendary science fiction writer, inventor, and futurist who predicted the future with remarkable accuracy. It is indeed astounding how an idea floated in 1968 could become a reality after four decades of experimentation. 

Another incredible idea was floated in the 1961 novel, Return from the Stars, by Stanislaw Lem. The novel is a about an astronaut Hal Bregg, who returns to Earth after a 127 year mission. In this novel he postulates the idea of spray on clothes the following excerpt from the book explains the idea.

“I could see how that might appeal to women, because by discharging from a few or a few dozen bottles a liquid that immediately set into fabrics with textures smooth or rough—velvet, fur, or pliable metal—they could have a new creation every time, each for one occasion only”.

The 21st century saw this fabulous concept become real with Spanish fashion designer Dr Manel Torres’s efforts. He worked with particle engineer Paul Luckham from Imperial College London to produce a fabric that comes out of a can. Manel got the idea when he was at a friend’s wedding and the party spray foam was used as a part of the merrymaking. He went on to developing the product which claims to have myriad applications in fashion, medicine, interiors and environmental issues.


Wednesday, February 18, 2015


Thought behind the thought: 
I was at a programme the other day at a school function. It was a formal prize distribution ceremony, followed by a small entertainment programme for parents. There was an act performed by the little ones that talked about the cultural heritage of India. Little kids wearing clothes belonging to different states and religions of India walked on the stage one by one. The first thought that came to my mind was that dress, gives away so much information about us in just a glimpse. It’s an unspoken communication about where we hail from what our culture is about and so much more. It instantly assigns an identity and individuality to the person donning it.

About the art: 
India is a very diverse land. You move from one state to another state and chances are that the local language, food customs, and traditions will hugely differ.This rich cultural diversity makes India an indulgence that is to be savoured. All sensory organs are involved if one has to truly absorb India and its culture. India has a number of tribes and they are strikingly different from one another. Normally the first thing that’s distinctive about tribes is their costume. It not only announces where the tribes hail from but also talks about their individualistic creative sensibilities. Beautiful colours, jewellery, and hairdos make these tribal costumes a visual treat. Along with tribal costumes there are innumerable costumes used in dance and theatre in India. Let us limit ourselves today and take a look at some of the most striking tribal and regional costumes.

Ladakhi costume with heirloom headdress called Perak . The colours ,textures and materials in the costume are outstanding. The headdress is very important and becomes a focal point, adorned with flowers if brings life to the costume. Colour is used to give accents to the costume not overpower it.

Rignai and Risa are the traditional costume of the tripura women. The pattern of the "rignai"are so distinct that the clan of a Tripuri woman can be identified by the pattern of the rignai she wears.

The marvelous bead work in the costumes of the Bonda tribe from the hilly regions of Malkangiri, Odisha bring so much vibrancy to the tribe. The lightness, delicacy and detail makes this costume stand apart.Colour plays a very dominating role here as well.

The Rabaris' from northwest India are well known for their exquisite embroidery work. The way the costume is accessorized also make it distinct and bold. Probably because the colour pallet is so vivid, the accessories are muted in colour but bold in design.

Dimasa and Bodo are one of the many tribal groups of Assam. Dimasa and Bodo girls wear their traditional attire during festivals. The delicate aesthetic sensibility and ability to use bold colors deftly, are the two strong points for designers of this costume. Use of pattern, contrast and colour make this costume truly remarkable. Interestingly like most other costumes in India, these are woven, designed and made by the women themselves and artistic temper is an intrinsic ability present among most women.

Tribals' are self taught artists and probably their only guide and teacher is nature , which is abound with inspiration.The headdress is again a focal point of this costume probably inspired from the peacocks of the forest. The Baigas in the costume above are very colourful and are primarily found in Mandla and Balaghat districts of Madhya Pradesh.

The Jaintia or Pnar is a tribe from the Jaintia hills of Meghalaya. Not all tribes in India are about color and vibrancy and opulence. The costume above makes a very minimalist statement. Muted colors offset bright accents. There is an interplay between beautiful patterns and and textures to produce an almost contemporary style statement.


The aesthetic sensibility of the Nagas of Nagaland is extremely refined. A single bold color becomes a canvas, on which beautifully crafted jewellery and accessories, are displayed. The little trinkets and ornaments are so well crafted and compliment the costume so effectively that together it is a style statement in itself.

The Limbu tribe of Nepal and the Garo and Khasi tribe of Meghalaya all boast of a refined sense of accessorizing a costume. The fine understanding of color , its use and its attributes are seen in them. The tribals are possibly way ahead of us in terms of artistic understanding. Probably because they know something that cannot be taught in an art school. The all important thing they know, is to respond to one's intuitive creativity, be individualistic , be bold and be true to who you are as a person.


Tuesday, February 17, 2015


Thought behind the thought:
Memory is such a precious commodity and we just take it for granted. Recently a close family member lost his memory due to a brain haemorrhage and we had to literally stick little pieces and fragments of memory together for him, in order to help him remember places, events, and people. We resorted to photographs, movies, videos and stories to bring him back to us. We store bits of our life in these memory parcels and are lucky till the time can retrieve them when we need them. We are existing in an ever-changing world and what helps us anchor ourselves to time is our memory. We lose so much of our cities, culture and heritage as we move forward that sometimes it feels unreal that we have lived a certain kind of life in our past.

Gallery of Curious Memories is Paul Fernandes’ wonderful tribute to Bangalore of the 70’s. The artist has a studio in Bangalore with a very witty name aPaulogy, where the artist works. An illustrator and cartoonist, what the artist has achieved, is to capture and freeze, a small glimpses of the city, in time.

Photography and hand drawings are beautiful ways to keep slices of memory alive. The personal touch, individuality, wit and humour that one can weave in a drawing give it a definite edge over photography. He has illustrated many books, including ‘On a High Note’ – a slightly inebriated introduction to Western music; Peter Colaco’s ‘Bangalore’; and ‘Shine Board Arts’ – an authentic collection of signs of the times in India. 

His most recent work have sold thousands of copies across the world and include the popular poster mural ‘Bang Bang Bangalore’; Sillycon City; The Ambassador of India; and a series of Shine Board’ posters.


Monday, February 16, 2015


Thought behind the thought:
Gardening is an extremely insightful activity. Plants communicate with visuals constantly. There is growth, decay, flourish, hope, ambition, dependence and so much more that you see in plants every day. Yet it is the weeds that need to be constantly tended to. No matter how many times you remove them they persist. Their battle for survival is indeed inspiring. Just give them a grain of soil in the cracks between the tiles on a third floor apartment and they spring life out of there. Most of us wait earnestly for the ‘right circumstances’ to do anything. Well, learn from the weeds they will tell you that every circumstance is the right one.

About the Art:
Grass has had a utilitarian value for human beings since time immemorial. Used for practically, every human need be it food, clothing, shelter, grass is a very versatile material. It has been employed in innumerable ways across cultures of the world to produce innovative and creative products. In Bihar, a northern state of India, the Sikki grass craft is practiced for several centuries. Sikki is a golden grass, found growing in the wet and marshy area of Madhubani district in Bihar.

This seasonal wild grass has a natural golden tint and it grows in marshy areas. It is harvested during rainy season. A native tribe known as ‘Amas,’ is traditionally involved in harvesting the grass and processing it for sale. When the grass attains adequate height, it is cut from the base and dried under the sun. The upper flowering portion is discarded and only the blades or splinters are used. Since olden times and till date Sikki grass products are made by the women of the household. Especially brides-to-be make these artefacts and take them as part of their dowry to their husband’s home as a tradition.

These grass products are lightweight, organic, bio degradable and are very durable. The products made from Sikki grass are utilitarian, ornamental and often have a religious significance. There is an elaborate process of making of the products. Please visit the following link for the same :

Different products are made out of Sikki grass like containers to store grain, rice, and lentils, boxes to keep clothes and jewellery, baskets to store sweets and betel leaves and containers to store masalas (spices). Mobiles and toys are made for the children, while the women make bangles and jewellery for themselves. Most products are made for urban markets, while figures of deities are crafted for religious festivals. Contrast colours are used in dramatic ways and each product reflects the intuitive creativity of its maker.


Sunday, February 15, 2015


Thought behind the thought:
Fast, is one word that we seek most in the modern world? Fast internet, fast food, fast schedules, fast transportation and as a culmination of everything fast results. One such day, while I was at the end of my tether with the ‘slow’ internet speed I was wondering about this self inflicted need for speed. We are so bogged down by the idea of being left behind that we simply push ourselves over the edge in the process to get ahead. At 9:00 am if one were to stand outside any railway, subway or metro station there is an acute possibility that you could be trampled by the exodus of people coming out of the station and trying to get to work on time. At VT station Mumbai one can visually separate Mumbaikars from outsiders just by looking at the pace they are walking at. 

About the art: 
In the early 1900’s the corporate world exploded in America. The movie ‘Revolutionary Road’ depicts very clearly how people started functioning like clockwork and became slaves of routine. The movie explores and tries to find meaning, in the unromanticized life full of drudgery and shows the desperation, to break its shackles. This particular still from the movie reminds you instantly of Kirk Newman’s flying businessman wearing a suit and fedora, holding briefcases in his hand trying to get to work in time.

Fast Paced 29x18

Quick Off the Blocks 22x30

Kirk Newman work spans from 1960-2005 and the artistic exploration began with abstract art and was followed by non-representational sculpture. Whimsy and satire were the central theme of his sculptures and figures of elongated men, distorted and flattened, convey the fast pace of corporate America. The vulnerability of his subjects can be seen as they are often stumbling, taking long strides or falling in desperation to keep time. The wonderful lines of force in the sculpture make his static sculptures almost kinetic. He is a sculptor, printer and draftsman, creating public art and has deep understanding of the anxiety and turbulence in lives of the modern men and women.

Competition 18x7x4

Go 10x12x3.5

Little Merger 23x8x3.5

The medium of this work is mainly metal and some of his work includes, a sculpture of children at play in Bronson Park, his series ‘Children of the World’ is installed in the Children's Garden at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park and ‘Words of Humanity’ installed at Sherman Lake YMCA in 2012.

Credits and photos