Sunday, December 29, 2019

A Day in a Life of an Artist – My Creative Day with Runa Biswas

How do I sum up a day that allows me to create art? Difficult I must say, as the ‘day’ is a sum total of thousands of days, of an unending journey of self-discovery.

My day starts with art in every form conceivable, like planning and preparing tiffin for my daughter at 5.30 AM. Tiffin and art? Then breakfast for my family and art? But, that’s how it is. I believe art is everywhere and one gets to absorb from any art form. Food is definitely one with its processes, textures and taste. It has to be healthy, tasty, interesting and inviting, all at the same time. That’s art too. Cooking is like meditation for me. It soothes me, helps me find a semblance of sanity out of chaos and madness. It’s like a jugalbandi (a duet of two solo musicians) between food and my chaotic artistic mind.

“…the ‘day’ is a sum total of thousands of days, of an unending journey of self-discovery.”

Aranyani(Forest Goddess)-Runa Biswas-MyCreativeDay-HuesnShades
Aranyani (Forest Goddess)

Next comes exploring my home with its lovely terrace garden, that surprises me with mother nature’s art – the flowers and foliage in all their form, colour, glory and fragrance. Every day is a surprise, every day holds something new. I observe them and take inspiration for my day ahead. Do the shadow play of the leaves under the rising morning sun tries to give me a cue to composition? I think about such things as the day unfolds, and imbibe them. Perhaps, with the hope that they will sneak into my paintings. But oh wait, are the works that my brushes work fervently meant to paint or to create art? So I rummage my memories, travel back to childhood and discover my next inspiration, my next human story that I must bring forth on my canvas. And more importantly bring them to life, which touches souls and moves people.

I put on the music, my old radio or the music system. It depends, on what I am going to create that day. From Tagore songs to Bob Dylan, I shuffle through and then listen to them with my heart. Sometimes, I pause them to listen to a Bulbul just outside my window and join it humming my favourite songs.

”Do the shadow play of the leaves under the rising morning sun tries to give me a cue to composition?”

The morning newspapers confront me with reality, and also human stories of triumph and tribulations. A hot cup of Darjeeling tea balances my senses, soothes my nerves and strengthens my resolve to do my bit. As I sip the second flush muscatel, it takes me back to the sylvan hills and the mysterious customs of the Buddhist monks, of the simple life of the pahari (people inhabiting the Himalayan regions of Nepal and northern India) people. I shuffle my music list and listen to ‘Pahari’ by Pandit Bhimsen Joshi and Shiv Kumar Sharma and suddenly the hills invade my home. I am not a very religious person, but I do pray mostly to thank and rarely to ask.

Moving to the next, at around 9.30 AM, after all my family members have been taken care of, is when a mother, wife and daughter-in-law is ready for the artist. My studio beckons, the paints gear up, the brushes quiver and my canvases on easels become restless to meet me.

“My studio beckons, the paints gear up, the brushes quiver and my canvases on easels become restless to meet me.”

At 10 AM sharp I am at my studio. It begins with mundane things like checking messages and mails and responding to them. But, at times, exciting official work like responding to a studio or an enquiry. I also scan through a few art websites to get the day’s news.

The next half an hour I dedicate myself to read. Over the last couple of years, I have tried to build a small library of sorts. From theatre to tribal art to textiles, and of course study material on masters – both past and present, and both international and national. Ganesh Pyne is one of my favourites and so is Jogen Choudhury for his bold lines. I also like to read about Chittoprasad for his fieriness, as also Bhaijju Shyam for his dare to dream attitude. Hockney, Sabavala, Nolde, Manida…all of them suddenly fill my studio and sweep away the quietude. Each one inspires me, tells me to pick up the brush and lets go off the apprehensions about acceptance/rejection that clouds my thinking.

I then take a deep breath and look at my canvases, brushes and paints - My time to talk to them and listen to them. Have I failed them? Poured enough love for them? After all, they are all my children. At times they do tell me a lot of things, their worries or even sentiments. But in the end, our conversations end on one note – pick up the brushes and tell your untold story, paint for the greater glory of life.

“Each one inspires me, tells me to pick up the brush and let go off the apprehensions about acceptance/rejection that clouds my thinking.”

And so, I pick up a conte or a charcoal block to draw the first lines. Slowly the rhythm picks up and the line between reality and imagination starts getting blurred. The brushes follow, then the scalpel or maybe the syringes and tubes of color. In between, sandpapers come and go and so are the colour pencils and ink. It’s the most satisfying period, as I lose count of time and what is happening around; detached with the world yet attached to my own that I have created. After a spell, I step back and then I am my biggest critic. It depends at what stage the painting is, and whether it satisfies me as it evolves. The next is to go back to it with double the effort, maybe start fresh or course-correct if the painting needs so.

Till I am reminded by a gentle buzz on my phone that it’s Lunchtime, and that 3 hours have just flown. I come back to receive my daughter from school and listen to her day’s story until I serve lunch to my family. The afternoon is spent reading a book, maybe a fast-paced thriller on India’s archaeological findings or behind the scene anecdotes of Sherlock Holmes or even short stories by Tagore. At times I find similarities with the struggles and frustrations of the Master Painters, and at times the laidback afternoon brightens up on finding similarities of triumph and hope with that of my own journey. This is my recharge time for the evening shift.

“It’s the most satisfying period, as I lose count of time and what is happening around; detached with the world yet attached to my own that I have created.”

Evenings are spent helping my daughter with her studies, solving Maths, explaining physics and giving her tasks while I head for my studio again. Enroute I pick up groceries and vegetables. And then, I am back at my studio for the next 2 hours, picking up from where I left in the morning session. I draw the curtains and look at the city’s night skyline, the reflection of dancing lights on the lake and soak in the breeze. I head back home again for one of the most interesting parts of the day – my chit chat session with my husband, friend, guide and philosopher. Till dinner time, when the whole family comes together over the table. This is the time our discussions veer from unusual to the most mundane of topics from films to music to cybernetics to biotechnology to philosophy to cuisine, except politics that is.

At 10.30 PM it’s time to listen to the Night Jar and the whispering trees, and then the dreams take over; preparing me for another day, for an unending journey to find myself, my true calling.


Runa Biswas-My-Creative-Day-HuesnShadesAbout the Artist: Born in 1975 Runa Biswas comes from the old side of Kolkata, India and lived in a house that was 100 years old, surrounded by a history of 300 years. There was art everywhere, surrounding her with its many hues, patterns, colours and smell. From a very early age, she was drawn to art; painting whatever evoked a sense of happiness and freedom. After procuring a Diploma in Fine Arts from Rabindra Bharati University and an MSc in Economics from Calcutta University, she dived straight into the world of colours, mainly watercolours, then on to more experimental forays with ink.
Currently, Runa Biswas is based out of Bangalore. Over 15 years or so she had been able to develop a highly unique artistic language, experimenting with various mediums, textures, tools, and concepts. She uses a mix of wash technique, layer on layer glazing, pouring, batik and brushwork. This allows her to combine the rigidity of bold lines with the fluidity of watercolor. Her subjects are mostly figurative, inspired by dreams, folklore, mythology, and personal moments that were etched in her memory. Her tools are as varied as her subjects - brushes, pens, palette knives, droppers, twigs, combs, and even her nails. With speed and timing being key, she has trained herself to be ambidextrous, using both her hands at the same time to implement different applications.

This is the final episode of the mini-series "My Creative Day" this Season. You can check out the FIRST, SECOND and the THIRD one by clicking on the links.

Friday, December 27, 2019

Gandhi- Beyond Borders

My recent blog post on Artist K M Madhusudhanan’s (one of the eminent members of The Radical Movement, an avant-garde movement of the 80s) first Solo exhibition “Gandhi – Beyond Borders” happening at 1X1Gallery, Alserkal Avenue, Dubai was published in Nalini Malaviya's blog, Art Scene India. The exhibition is closing on 31 Dec 2019. It unmistakably explores the traces of melancholy, a sense of foreboding and inherent-volcanic-violence in today’s times. In case you are in Dubai and you haven't checked it out yet, do hurry.

It's been a great honour and pleasure to talk to this eminent artist about this particular exhibition and his earlier art phase as well. Thanks to Madhusudhanan Sir for his time.

You can follow this LINK to read about this exhibition.

Gandhi-Beyond Borders-K M Madhusudhanan-1x1gallery-HuesnShades

Monday, December 9, 2019

The World Stirs My Imagination - My Creative Day with Katarina Rasic

I don’t have a routine or a studio, therefore explaining my creative day is a difficult task,  expressing what inspires me is what I will aim for. The street is my studio. Scavenging for long-forgotten treasures in the busy markets stir my imagination; letting the cold water of the ocean touch my feet while I compare the sound of snow with the sound of sand under my feet.  Saying goodbye with my art to one home, so another could welcome me.

When I decided to change my life and leave my permanent home, which was the moment when everyday devoured me; MONOTONY ruptures life, I decided to resist it and started the journey of a lifetime.

MONOTONY ruptures life...”

Katarina Rasic Performance- HuesnShades
Still from the performance The Inside Story (Processes. Emotions. Food), Encounters, ArtO2, Mumbai, India, November 2017

Interestingly, my journey began in India, Bangalore to be more precise. I felt great creative energy and decided that I want to move. The movement will be my permanency and my driving force in creative expression.

In extension to my creative practice and as my everyday creative process is teaching, from the start, I felt it as an extension of one another. The teaching imposes questions that I often take into my art practice, it pushes me to experiment in my own work and creativity of the kids always brings new ideas into the process. My days are different from one to another and each place brings a new excitement of the discovery.

“The movement will be my permanency and my driving force in creative expression.”

Mumbai took my heart the first time I landed in the city. I knew I never wanted to leave. Do we call it home though we weren’t born there? Every time I travelled out I was eager to come back, I missed the stuffy smell of the streets. Humid touch on my skin, noise and business, Mumbai was like a living creature with a heart pumping fast, never stopping, never getting tired. I never saw a city like that, energetic, always on the go, sweaty and busy, loud and grumpy, shiny and excited in the nights and lazy and quiet in the mornings. I always found endless inspiration on the streets of Mumbai. I collected water from the potholes of the city to create art, bathed in the sea to make a conversation with the city and collected the memories of the people living there, but it was time to leave.

“I knew I never wanted to leave. Do we call it home though we weren’t born there?”

I landed on the opposite side of the world in Rio de Janeiro, around a year ago from now. Rio shook the ground under my feet, uprooted me, and then stole my heart. It was a place that deeply changed me, I would say my entire art practice too. It made me question my work and look into my creative expression. I always say the point when creativity starts is when we are out of our comfort zone but are we ever really move out of it? How do you go out of the comfort zone, when you are the one deciding on the move? Well, I learned how in Rio. I learned how to dance on the waves of the ocean. inquired into my art, and started breaking it to build new ideas.

Moving from city to city brings a new set of questions, interests and gives us new pieces of the puzzle. Now when I am in Bangkok, again there is no routine, each day floats to another, some are there to inquire and discuss, others to create and reflect. Exploring and learning about new places and cultures impact my work greatly.

“Moving from city to city brings a new set of questions, interests and gives us new pieces of the puzzle.”

Last but not the least, I like to have a good set of markers and sketchbook with me at all times, this is very important when traveling around. But to a great extent, my work is impacted by the experiences and objects I find on the streets, which I use in performances or as a driving force to come up with ideas for my work, slowly going from more physical creation of the work to the exploration of the concepts and ideas to be transformed into performances.

 “The only constant is change.” said Heraclitus, which is a creative process in itself, I say.

My-Creative-Day-Logo - HuesnShades

Katarina Rasic - HuesnShades

About the Artist: Katarina Rasic is a Serbian artist living and working in Bangkok. She spent 5 years in India and a year in Rio de Janeiro, Brasil. Rasic’s performances and paintings stem from her personal experiences and actions. Her performances draw us into the repetitive ritual-like practice, where her body becomes an introspective tool to unearth notions of home, belonging and identity deeply rooted in our collective memories.

This is the third episode of the mini-series "My Creative Day". You can check out the FIRST and SECOND one by clicking on the link.

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Invented Scripts - a brief on Asemic Writing

Visual poetry as the name suggests is visually appealing, probably the first thing one would notice before the text. That makes poetry all the more exciting, I guess. There is of course double interest in the written words and the intentional form that is mostly based on the theme. It could be a recognizable pattern or a free form that could range from poems exploring handwriting, scribbling and scrawling, abstraction and illustration, mathematical equations, asemic and pansemic writing with invented scripts, xerographic pieces, material process, colour and collage, crossings out, forgotten notes, found text, interaction between paper and pen-ink, geometric poems, inarticulate poems and minimalism and the list may go on. In short, it is something like raw poems or Poem Brut. It’s more experimental in nature and your imagination can run wild creating all sorts of patterns/forms with concrete words using different typography as well. There’s a play of intermedia as well in the current times with digital formats being available and made easy. You can see earliest examples in the Metaphysical poet, George Herbert’s “Easter Wings” and the radical experiments of e e Cummings poems like “In Just” etc. The movement is said to have drawn inspiration from Dada and Surrealism. One can see examples in the works of Joan Miro’s “Le corps de ma brune” (1925) and Piet Mondrian's incorporation of Michel Seuphor's text in “Textuel” (1928).

My inclination here is more towards Asemic writing as of now. As mentioned it’s more of an invented script, an impression or shadow of the conventional writing personal to the poet but having an effect on the reader all the same. It’s a kind of pseudo or mock writing like what the children do even before they begin to write actual words. We see them do it all the time, it’s natural. Some even have pictograms and ideograms in it and the meaning isn’t rigid. It’s open to interpretation and each interpretation can be the perfect one. The most important aspect is that it is not bound to any language and the knowledge of a particular language is not essential to understanding the writing. It’s beyond all those barriers and yet able to relate to words and meaning. It bridges the void where words fail. Simply put, it is something you can’t read. There are calligraphers from circa 800 CE like Zhang Xu and Huaisu who have practiced illegible writing; it is not something that sprung up in the modern times though the variations and mediums have just widened beyond belief.

Andrew Topel From Letters Patterns Structures-HuesnShades

Andrew Topel’s Letters Patterns Structures

Mary Ellen Solt’s Forsythia-from Brittanica
Mary Ellen Solt’s Forsythia

Abstract calligraphy, Concrete Poetry, controlled scribble, doodles, earliest writing, experimental calligraphy, ideograms, illegible writing, Inism, jazz writing, Kandinsky shamanism, Ungno Lee letter abstracts, Mail Art, André Masson automatic drawings, Henri Michaux alphabets narrations, mock letters, pseudo writing, scrittura asemantica, Austin Osman Spare sigils, Taoist magic diagrams, Cy Twombly’s works, Vinča script, Made Wianta calligraphy period, Zhang Xu wild cursive,  Luigi Serafini's Codex Seraphinianus  and several more come under asemic writing.

Man Ray, Kandinsky, Henry Michaux, Max Ernst have all experimented asemic writing at some point of their creative career.

Michael Jacobson’s blog TheNew-Post Literate is an impressive treasure-trove of Asemic writing. I read about him at Asymptotejournal. Some Asemic writers/poets include Tim Gaze, Geof Huth, Erik Belgium, Michael Jacobson and many more. I am just starting out and new to this scenario and have a lot to learn about the people and the works here. So please excuse me if there are important omissions but then do let me know so that I can include it as well.

Michael Jacobson - Page 1 from The Giant's Fence
Michael Jacobson - Page 1 from The Giant's Fence

Tim Gaze
Tim Gaze

Now that you have a general idea and a sense of what this is all about, let me show you a couple of works that I did. I can not share my favourite ones here though as I have submitted it elsewhere. These are the most recent ones from my booklet project (the second one). Glimpses from the first are on my Instagram. I took these pictures while the sun was setting and I loved the shadow it created through the glass door. What do you think?

 Aurora-Asemic poem-HuesnShades

Euphoria-Asemic poem-HuesnShades

Serendipity-Asemic poem-HuesnShades

These two are from my first booklet:

Epiphany-Asemic poem-HuesnShades

Talisman-Asemic poem-HuesnShades

I did a lot of readings from different sites like Asymptote Journal, Michael Jacobson, Asemic writing, Wikipedia, Geof Huth blog, Andrew Topel blog, Richard Kostelanetz, 3am Magazine, Poetry Foundation, Litro, Brittanica, Power Poetry, Hyperallergic, Script and a couple more random articles before I wrote my piece. 

So, have you heard of Asemic writing/poems before? What do you think of it? Do let me know your views, thoughts and ideas.