Friday, June 10, 2016

Drawing from Life

I was only awkward until the robe came down; once it was down I was bare and felt liberated. In my head, it all sounded poetic, like there were gongs of freedom chiming in the background. But when I took a quick look at the faces around me, it brought me back to think how normal it actually is to pose nude for drawing. All artists in their own rights, going about drawing me like they would draw any other model, learning and practicing how the light played on the contours of my body. Not to say that the sense of liberation I felt was not legitimate. 

It all boils down to the aspect of where I come from. If and when my parents or the extended family back in India comes to know that I pose nude, I wouldn't know how they would react. They maybe okay with it or taken aback by the very act. It wouldn't change my view or decision in any way, but still I just indulged in these thoughts, like trying to interview myself in my head.

I recently came across this article from a few months ago that states a hike in daily wages of live models for government run art schools in India. But the plight for these models are far from over. The following article and video clearly portrays the dogma that exists in our society regarding live nude models for art.



Luckily for me, the art teacher, Mr. Cyrus Wadia, I had back in Pune (India) opened our minds to see things with much clarity. Having chosen art as our field we were already victims of passive rebuke from our peers, but the major unlocking of our minds came from our art teacher nonetheless. During our search for inspiration in art, he'd say, "Let's talk! No matter how perverse your idea is, let's talk; and we'll make something good out of it!"

With the seed of liberation planted in us, we ventured out; I ventured out. Now, eight years after I did my bachelors in Civil Engineering and four years after quitting my job, I'm pursuing my Master of Fine Arts in Painting from Indiana State University.

My teachers here are as amazing as I had hoped for. I attended my first live-model drawing session here and understood why it is so important in an art course; why it is so important to break the dogma and unnecessary societal bonds in art that exists in India.

The drawings below are all made from life, using charcoal and graphite majorly.






















I'm up for modeling nude soon again, and I only have two thoughts: "It's my body and I'm proud of it." And also 'It's just a human body!'


~ RN

Thursday, April 30, 2015

In a nutshell...

It was only a couple of months ago that I turned thirty. And despite myself I couldn't help but feel that I have tipped myself over the peak and now it's a down-slope, and that suddenly I am bestowed with the secrets of intellectual enlightenment. That feeling of overwhelming clarity lasted for a few days post my birthday; and then I was back to what I was doing in reality - painting, reading, watching movies in abundance, filling my head with ideas from the chaos around me and reclining back to my solitude to execute them. But something stayed back from those few days of 'overwhelming clarity'. No philosophy, just experiences.

So, in a nutshell, it goes something like this:
  • There are far more important things in life to think about than security and stability.
  • That one impulsive step needs to be taken to see how capable you are and how infinitely your boundaries stretch.
  • You may have a number of dreams to follow, but until and unless you step out to give wings to at least one of them, you won't know which one will push you to go that extra mile.
  • You cannot possibly make or keep everyone happy.
  • You will be judged by many; to some extent, even by the closer ones.
  • Aloneness, as often mistakenly attributed to tragedy, is actually a magnificent self-discovery.
  • Mistakes are essential - glorious, small, whichever.
  • Take time to read, take time to work out; because you don't want to hit thirty with a rusty mind and pot belly.
  • Bid adieu to the emotional manipulators, nuisance value individuals and, to certain degree, the rhetorics from your life.
  • Good music is always uplifting (Ahem, ahem! I didn't mean Honey Singh).
  • Keep your friends close, but don't ever take them for granted.
  • See good in everything, and make it a habit.



~ RN

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Van Gogh's lust for life




I had the pleasure of watching the movie, Lust for Life, recently. Vincent Van Gogh's life rolls in front of our eyes with crisp colours and sharp chiaroscuro all around. I was just amazed that the filmmakers actually managed to bring out the characteristics of Van Gogh's painting into the movie itself, and this was back in 1956. The entire movie is weighed on the dialogues that flow quite poetically, and Kirk Douglas's Vincent Van Gogh, Anthony Quinn's Paul Gauguin, and James Donald's Theo Van Gogh are apt and convincing in their roles.

The warmth and love between the brothers, Vincent Van Gogh and Theo Van Gogh, the conversations and conflicts between Vincent Van Gogh and all other real-life  characters (Paul Gauguin in particular), the narration of the letters from Vincent to Theo in the background, the representation of Van Gogh's real paintings and more, everything adds to a delightful experience. 


Paul Gauguin's sarcasm and quick mockery of Symbolism adds to the lighter moments in the movie whereas Van Gogh's unfortunate tumble into a self-mutilating, hallucinating being is quite horrifying.

A well-made biography!


~ RN

Sunday, June 29, 2014

A little something about my upcoming painting - 'Mi Guernica'

During my contextual studies in art, the one painting that stayed back on my mind even after the lectures got over is Guernica by Pablo Picasso. An anti-war statement, it portrayed in abstract form the tragedies and horrors war inflicts upon innocent civilians, and to this date it holds a monumental status among the masterpieces depicting war and its aftermath.

It was hard to not get engulfed by the painting's grandness. And, thus started my own rendition of Guernica. Even as our nation reels back from severe blows of corruption, war, terrorism, domestic violence, rape, it's equally dismaying to see that nothing majorly happens to prevent them. There is an uproar, then debates, then discussions, then mentioning, then whispers, and then people forget and move on. I'm no saint either, for I have my share of drawbacks. But, I believe there is a great deal of power in a piece of art to change the course of history. I remember a quote by Picasso I recently read. He said - Painting is an instrument of war. My Guernica is my effort to make a statement against the horrors that I find in my vicinity.




Two months since I started my work on Guernica and it has already put my mind in a quaint isolation that is oblivious to others around me. Turbulent emotions, pictures from the past, vulnerability, social detachment, everything kicks in like a freak whirlpool in the sea. And yet there's an uncanny satisfaction in it that a viewer may feel the same intensity of my haywire emotions in the painting, with which I made it.


'Mi Guernica' is in its final stages of completion and I can't wait to get it out in the crowd for everyone to feel what I felt as I worked on it. There’s a lot more I wish to say about it; but I guess that will have to wait until the painting is revealed. I hope you all can make it to the exhibition in July.


~ RN

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Do you still read comics?

I've often met with derisive sighs when they find me reading a graphic novel. It can be credited to the fact that in India graphic novels are not generally excepted as a literary piece or even a piece of art for that matter; but the bigger reason is the lack of knowledge about what goes behind the conjuring of a good graphic novel.

Let me not use a fancy term as Graphic Novel. Let me just call it a comic book.

So, what's not to like in a good comic book? The artwork is amazing, the literary material top-notch, the story a thoughtful experience! So, why is it that generally it's labelled to be read only by kids? Why not adults? I attribute it to the perception that adults (as opposed to children) know better. I believe as we grow we start compartmentalizing our experiences - these are childish, these are immoral, these are stupid, these are bad, these are good; all categorized in that invisible shelf inside our head. It's not our fault; it is because of the regular conditioning that we go through our lifetime.

The adult categorization puts a comic book in Childish section while a novel in Mature section. Therein lies the big problem. I agree that there are comic books especially made for kids. But lets not get there! I'm talking about literary-rich and art-abundant books like V FOR VENDETTA and SIN CITY.

Below are the pages from V FOR VENDETTA and SIN CITY.

 

The stories are written by brilliant writers, and the penciling, inking, colouring and paneling done by bright artists. Every panel, every page is rich with art and literary content adding up to a wonderful story. Lately, digital media has taken over the production on a graphic novel, which are magnificent in all aspect. Yet there is something about drawings made in traditional methods that still appeals me. There is a lot of thought, priceless conversations that hold no record other than scribbling and sketches in notebooks, character-building, witty and appropriate dialogues, appealing snapshot panels, and loads of sleepless nights that goes behind the beginning of a graphic novel.

The birth of telling story using pictures dates back to ages when man lived in a cave. Thereafter stories were told using hieroglyphs in Egypt, carvings in Aztec and Mayan civilization, and all parts of world.

Recently, I got a chance to get my hands upon a few amazing graphic novels - V FOR VENDETTA written by inexplicably excellent writer, Alan Moore, the dark and brilliant BATMAN - THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS by Frank Miller, who is also the writer of SIN CITY and 300 (yes, 300 was a graphic novel before it came out to be a movie), the surreal artwork filled ARKHAM ASYLUM: A SERIOUS HOUSE ON SERIOUS EARTH by Grant Morrison and Dave McKean

Below are pages from BATMAN - THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNSARKHAM ASYLUM: A SERIOUS HOUSE ON SERIOUS EARTH, and 300



























































It was very enjoyable and overwhelming to see such good art in the form of story. There is a lot of graphic novels that I've listed to read further. Just gearing up!

I hope you find it in you to bring yourself to at least glance into the colourful, and sometimes bleak and gritty world of graphic novels, because I believe that they are one of the most essential media where art meets literature.


~ RN

Sunday, November 24, 2013

The muse named INSPIRATION

I'm sure every artist, every writer faces a slope down to rock bottom where it seems that the creative mind has gone AWOL. I can say this for I have faced it during my relentless quest to write a series of short stories. It doesn't give you any clue, but this total lack of inspiration just hits you home when you least expect. So, what was I supposed to do? Sit back and wait until my muse shows up? Well, that's what I thought I would do, and that's what I did.

Only two days later it started to grow on me that my muse, my inspiration, was not going to show up. All I had was two unproductive days. My guilt having half-eaten me by then, the third day I took the sheets of paper and pen, and rode down to the place where I always wrote my stories. That day I sat with the blank sheets of paper staring back at me with indifference. My muse didn't come. But, there was a sense of satisfaction nonetheless. The fourth day I went again, and again it was the same story. The fifth day however I wrote a few lines. The day later, a paragraph. And then, it turned into an outflow thereafter. The short-story that came out of it turned out to be a really good one after all.

The entire episode made me understand that the muse that I was waiting for was a really self-obsessed being. It wouldn't have showed up unless I impressed her with my incessant pursuit. Waiting for inspiration to hit you sounds really poetic, but I learned that this muse named Inspiration only reaches out to you halfway; the other half you've got to reach out. Once it's there you've just got to keep her occupied. She'll just sit there and polish her nails, run her hands through her hair, maybe even wink at you at times. But your bag of inspirations will be full as she stays.

You can't keep waiting for inspiration; just get a really nice bunch of flowers and go impress her. She'll in turn keep you happy, believe me.

~ RN

Friday, November 1, 2013

Art Hop and the people in it

The weather in Bombay (I still prefer calling it 'Bombay') was as searing as a frying pan this Sunday (Oct 27th, 2013), but somehow it only mattered for a small stretch of time as I settled myself around my paintings to display at Art Hop in Bandra in that late October morning. The excitement was building up inside me minute after minute. Technically it was the third time I was displaying my artwork to public. But, for me, it was first such display where people came only to take a look at artwork and nothing else. I wouldn't want to talk about the first two times now. You and I are going to have a long journey together, and that is when I'll slowly tell you the side-stories. For now, lets talk about what I felt at Art Hop.

It was only a day before the actual event that I realized how big a deal it was. People from various parts of the city hopped from one venue to another to witness and revel in the sea of artworks that consisted of paintings, photographs, installations, and what not. For an aspiring artist like me, this was an opportunity to know and understand the likes of people. I mean, imagine people coming from all over just to witness art, no other agenda. It sure sounds wonderful; and it was every bit wonderful as it sounds.


It was an overwhelming display of artworks at various venues spread out in Bandra. We couldn't visit all of those, but we managed to take a tour through two of the places. And, during those minutes we spent there, apart from the brilliant artworks that were displayed, what caught my interest were the people who had come. Plain, simple people. After a certain period, in fact I was more interested in observing them than the artworks. Oh, you're free to make your own assumptions about my credibility as an artist who'd observe people rather than the artwork. Still I feel you'd understand what I mean if you indulged in reading further.

I believe, we humans are very fascinating and we carry some sort of fire within us - a magical power that we don't realize more often exists at all. And studying a human figure and its action is quite like mesmerism. That is exactly what happens to me. I recently read a blog, 7 Strangers, written by a good friend. Her emphasis was on the fact that how often strangers have influenced our very life - "Every friend was once a stranger". I totally agree with her, for every time an art-enthusiast came to my paintings and spoke with me, that stranger no more felt like one. The flow of words was as easy as breathing. And, you could feel that this stranger carried similar fire within him too. I haven't had many chances to exhibit my art yet; but, now that I'm getting it, I get to converse with people who admire art and realize that they are immensely brilliant no matter how boring and dull they seem to be in the first go. All you've got to do is build a channel to connect, which is talk. So, it's not surprising how my attention got drawn to people around me despite the grand display of artworks.

My artwork didn't get sold in the Art Hop, but what I gained out of it is priceless conversations with equally amazing individuals. And, I thank us - we humans - for being the most fascinating creatures of this world.

~ RN