Saturday, April 25, 2015

Sketches, Scribbles and Drawings by K.G.Subramanyan

K G Subramanyan is a name to be reckoned with versatility, wit, satire and innovation in art. He is a painter, sculptor, muralist, print-maker and a designer. He is also a well-defined poet whose personal verses are more attractive than the famed poets themselves. Even at the age of 91 and being restricted, he is ever willing, agile and committed to his passion. I had the opportunity to see over 100 sketches, scribbles and drawings of eminent KGS at prominent venues – firstly at India House (Indian Ambassador’s Residence), Abu Dhabi and then at Sultan Ali Al Owais Cultural Foundation in Dubai which is a dedicated to art and culture in and around the region. The show was called 'Sketches, Scribbles and Drawings by K.G.Subramanyan.'

It was organized by Collage Communications in association with Seagull Foundation for the Arts based in Kolkata. Thanks to the team for bringing such an amazing talent within our reach; for the art lovers here in the U.A.E.

Along with the artworks there were also books by KGS - his art, his studies, his views and interpretations, children's books etc.

serene entrance to the India House (Indian Ambassador's residence, Abu Dhabi)

We were welcomed with warmth and cordiality by the Ambassador's wife, Mrs. Deepa Seetharaman. I was really touched by her grace. She certainly appears to be a connoisseur in art and that reflects in her aesthetic decor of the home and a personal collection of art books that were laid out along with the exhibit.

Born in Kerala, educated in Shantiniketan and currently residing in Baroda, KGS has been awarded Padma Shri, Padma Bhushan and Padma Vibhushan. He has been influential name in India’s art and design world for the past five decades.

The sketches begin from the 1960s, progresses to drawings in the 1970s, black and white sketches, scribbles and brush work with a major Asian influence in the 1980s, advances to nature and figure studies where one can see the Western influence and then to the current works with gouache which are just a couple of months old.

His reverse painting on mylar sheets is something I admire more for their ingenuity. I love the way he incorporates traditional devices into his art and ultimately makes it his own. There is also a huge number of his works (apart from black and white sketches, pens and crayons) that burst with the joy of colours particularly his gouaches. Though not a learned expert in art, I found an influence of Kalighat style in his paintings. All the same there is this cosmopolitan language that he speaks too. To me, his art definitely can’t be restricted or compartmentalized. 

According to KGS, from what I understand, one need not limit oneself to just western or eastern tendencies but rather one can definitely merge them and use it according to one’s taste taking it as metaphors. The best thing about him is that he doesn’t resist change and he moulds according to the evolving art. I would have loved to see his magnum opus, ‘War of the Relics’, which unfortunately couldn’t be brought in for the exhibition due to technical reasons.

The pictures below are from Sultan Ali Al Owais Cutural Foundation Gallery in Dubai. It's a major space with ample area and lighting and the works looked different in a different environment. KGS show is a travelling one as they are exhibiting in various parts of India and the Gulf.

I also happened to chance upon my FB friend and Dubai based artist, Atul Panase, and it was an immense pleasure talking to a humble and down-to-earth artist. :)

I would like to thank Mrs.Mini.S.Menon, a partner of Collage Communications for posting the event information in FB and to Mr.Ramachandra Babu, Senior Illustrator-Gulf News (whose wife Mrs. Beena Ramachandran is also a partner of the autonomous firm, Collage) who invited me to the show. I would also like to thank Mr. Krishna Kumar of Collage Communications (and his better half, Mrs. Suma Krishna Kumar who worked hard to make it all possible), whom we met at India House, and who invited us again to the Dubai show. To sum up, it was indeed an amazing experience to see in person the art works of a legendary artist of our times.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Women Of The Desert - The Show

Women of the Desert came to a close and I reached Dubai on the concluding day so couldn't enjoy it the way I wanted and missed to meet most of the artists...blame it all on the air traffic and the unavailability of tickets at this peek travel season in the Gulf! :) However I did make the best of it as the works were still there to have a good look, the installations were moved to a side though.

The exhibition took place at Gallery 76, DIAC (Dubai International Art Centre) in Jumeirah. It's a lovely and serene villa and I love the way it warmly welcomes us all in, every time! The small arabic arches adds beauty to the whole villa and so is the bougainvillea, almost always in full bloom. A small and cozy gallery space!




The works of various women artists - to have a look at the participating artists, you can drop by hereWe had all tried our part in exploring femininity through various mediums and techniques and had tried to tell a tale - a short narrative of our lives; within and without. I am always attracted and excited by colours and there were no shortage of it in there! The gallery bursted with colours!










With my works

I also was able to meet a dear friend Pari Sagar, on the artwork collection date, with whom I have exhibited before and we had a really amazing time. Her works were my couple of favourites in the show. After collecting our artworks we had lunch together.

 With Pari Sagar and her paintings on my right

So that's it for today. Currently I am in Dubai and running a hectic schedule and enjoying it all :)
Until next week, it's a warm adieu!

Friday, April 10, 2015

Meet An Artist - Ajanta Guhathakurta

Ajanta Guhathakurta Das is a major contemporary children’s book illustrator. As her name implies she is an Art in herself! An apt name for an apt personality! Her works like Golu, the Goldfish, Tiger Call, The Auto That Flew, The Sweetest Mango, Carry Me, Mama!, Watch Out!, Boond etc would be the names your child would definitely love to delve deep into!

Her lovely and cute characters float, walk, run, and slide past into our little ones’ world with such verve and vivacity that it fills their fantasy with fluid and exploding colours. They weave magic intertwined with their tales that holds the hands of the little ones and fly them into a realm of their own!

Friends, be ready to welcome the most talented, Ajanta Guhathakurta!!!

 Ajanta Guhathakurta 

 Deepa: As the tradition goes, let us begin with a little background about you. Family education-marriage-work-art etc.
  Ajanta: I was born in Kolkata but brought up and educated in Delhi. I did my degree course in Fine Arts from Delhi College of Arts. Established my career. Got married to a like-minded friend much later in life and now am in a space in life where am discovering many new facets of creativity.

  Deepa: How did you get into illustrations? What inspired you to take up illustrations as your career? Are you formally trained?
 Ajanta: I wanted to wait for sometime to do my solo show of paintings, hence started pursuing my career in children’s illustrations. I have grown up enjoying illustrated books so the pull towards illustrating myself came very naturally. If you can draw well, you can illustrate. With experience and constructive feedback, one grows in emoting the story well in ones drawings.

 Deepa: Who is (are) your inspiration(s)? How did they attribute to your development as an illustrator?
  Ajanta: I have no favourites but I draw inspiration from the works of people, irrespective of their popularity and success, that captivate my attention and I enjoy viewing their work again and again.

 Deepa: What inspires you the most? Is it the people and/or places, cultures and/or traditions, rituals and/or customs?
 Ajanta: Different cultures and how people of different places emote in their cultural activities, say their art, music, dance or crafts. This desire to know more about what different places have to offer has made me travel a lot and this in return has always kept me very versatile in my work.

 Deepa: How do you illustrate when there is a need for something specific from the seeker/publisher…do you undergo any kind of pressure/stress? How do you prepare for it?
 Ajanta: I thank my stars , no project was ever pushed down my throat. I chose every project as a challenge and experimented with different styles which paid off. From realistic to stylised work, I have done it all. All my publishers were kind enough to give me the space I required to give something of me in the style and at the same time I took care of the expectations they had from the book. If I have confidence in what I do, I can transmit the same. I don’t choose projects where I have to copy someone else’s style. 

 Deepa: Do you come across artists’ block? If so, how do you overcome it?
 Ajanta: Yes, I do. Its part of growing as an artist. These blocks are necessary to do some introspection and keep your heart and mind open to new experiences. During one such phase, I was invited for a workshop where an illustrator had to develop a wordless picture book. I didn’t care about failing or succeeding, I just wanted to see whether I have it in me. I enjoyed the struggle of pushing the block aside and discovering a fresh new potential.
  Deepa: Which is your current project? Please do share your views on it?
 Ajanta: Right now am working on a novel. This one is for all age groups to read. It will have some realistic black and white illustrations evocative of the old classics look.

 Deepa: You have published several, varied works. Which do you think is your favourite?
 Ajanta: I like one story I did for Mahashweta Devi ‘The why- why girl’ and I liked doing a book on saving the tigers titled ‘Tiger Call’ for which I fetch my first international award in Basel.

  Deepa: Do you harbour a dream project? If so, what would that be?
 Ajanta: My dream is to do my own written and illustrated picture books.

 Deepa: Which is your favourite medium to illustrate? Do you use digital techniques too?
 Ajanta: No favourites again. I choose my mediums according to the subject. I don’t do digital art.

 Deepa: You also design book covers; I particularly love the intricate floral and leaf patterns. How is it different from illustrating for stories? Which one do you enjoy the most?
 Ajanta: To be a good designer along with a successful illustrator is like having the best of both worlds. A book cover is the face of the book. A book cover should not give away the story but at same time should arouse curiosity. Both are enjoyable.

  Deepa: Durga is one of my favourites. Is it part of a book or a solo work?
  Ajanta: It’s a part of a collection of stories. You see the painter in me in this work.

  Deepa: I see a huge change in children’s books in India these days. It’s developing fast and in a much better way compared to what was available until a few years earlier. What are your thoughts on it? How challenging is the situation in India right now?
  Ajanta: I also see the change evolving and appreciate the publishers who do things differently and don’t rely on safe play. The challenges I see are of two kinds: 1) Not enough marketing and visibility of these amazing books. They disappear amidst the foreign counter parts. 2) The parents who are actual decision makers of what to buy make the choices on behalf of the child. Once I saw a child telling his mother,” I want this book, I read it in my school library. I want it for myself”. Mother’s reply, “ No need to buy a book which you have already read in library.”  

 Deepa: Are Indian illustrated books globally accepted as compared to their foreign counterparts? What do you think needs improvement, if any?
 Ajanta: The challenge India faces is the Indian mindset of buying and show casing foreign publications.

  Deepa: What are your other hobbies/interests?
  Ajanta: Music and cooking.

  Deepa:Where can my readers find you? 

Thank you Ajanta for taking time and effort amid your busy schedule to converse with me and to give an insight into your world of illustrations, likes and opinions, thoughts and interests. Thank you!

Best wishes from HuesnShades and the lovely readers in all your future endeavours :)

Friday, April 3, 2015

Women of the Desert

Sometimes one is at a loss to begin...from where should I begin! I have been unable to religiously visit my friends' blogs as I have been busy...with a show starting tomorrow, a commission work that I have to complete before I leave for Dubai in a couple of days and so many other things! I am all excited about tomorrow's show - Women of the Desert, which is happening at DIAC - Gallery 76, Dubai. I am going to miss the opening though. It is organized by the lovely Zareen Khan and team of Woman2Woman Events. I am exhibiting two of my works there. It  is something like a vision that I have transferred into canvas adding soul and spirit to it; they have woven a story of their own. It also has a mystical rhythm with symbolism that explores the spacelessness and the timelessness.

Would you like to know about the participating artists??? Just drop by here.


The illustrations below are from my last year's show which was titled 'It's All Square' and they are all square and this is just a part of the illustrations. It was held at thejamjar gallery in Dubai. You can read about it here and here.




Linking it to Eva and Kristin's PPF :)

When you work on a concept do you consciously move through it or it changes during it's course...kind of intuitive. Do you get visions? Do you transfer them to canvas too? Do you jot down those details or sketch? Would love you to share and get to know your views on it :)