What the world needs to end its sufferings is a universal religion that gives everyone happiness, rather than keeping people in line with imaginary notions, says Rajyogi Brahmakumar Nikunj Ji
The confrontation between two east Asian countries, the unresolved conflict between two gulf nations and the communal or religious disharmony in various other parts of the world remind us that there has been a vast discrepancy between what religions have preached and what most of their followers have actually practised. The gulf between preaching and practise has steadily deepened and widened. However lofty their ideals and injunctions regarding the norms of conduct, religions in the world have been unable to mitigate wars and other forms of conflict throughout.
They have failed to realise the glory of God and goodwill towards fellow beings in day-to-day life. They have not been able to foster amity and bring peace to the world. Therefore, here arises the question — are religions any beneficial to the mankind? Have they not caused enough confusion and conflicts? When we give an impartial thought to this charge against religions in general, we find that, to a great extent, it is true. Well, in the first stage of their growth, followers of every religion had a good understanding of real religious spirits in the form of observance of their cardinal principles. However, that was short-lived, because successive generations of followers learnt mainly the rituals and customs. They said their prayers, made some donations and felt elated to see their numbers increase but dissensions, rifts, sectarianism and quarrels among themselves and with others increased. Hence, today, no one can deny that to a great extent if not totally, religions have failed in making their followers conform to their prescribed ethical norms and to the golden rule of love towards the fellow beings. However, it should also be noted that though this charge points to the fact that there are serious flaws, deformities and discrepancies in the existing religions, it does not necessarily imply that religion, even in its real form also is unnecessary, for the truth remains that it fulfills man’s many needs.
It was not so long ago, when Swami Vivekananda reflected on the necessity of the concept of universal religion for the society. He realised the nature of man, according to which mankind in the whole world has been trying to look beyond in the quest of his ultimate destiny or search for God. Therefore, whole of the world community is today expecting a religion, which is acceptable to all, universal in its scope and teachings and which works as a unifying force.
The need of the hour is to have a religion of spiritual love and brotherhood that could inspire men, women and children to build up a new world of complete peace, friendliness and brotherhood. Moreover, people now don’t want a religion which offers them an imaginary heaven or gives them fear of an imaginary hell. Instead, they want a religion which gives them uprightness and happiness in this very life and enlightens them on how to transform this world of sufferings, that is, the hell into paradise. It is this religion, which is universal, altruistic and practicable.
Writer: Rajyogi Brahmakumar Nikunj ji
Courtesy: The Pioneer
An 1881 oil on canvas painting that came up for sale recently, has got it all – history, legend and the tale of Raja Ravi Varma. Story by Uma Nair
Amidst a range of artworks at the Saffron Sale, one painting, which was the cynosure of all viewers and art aficionados, was from the Income Tax department, Lot 13 — Nirav Modi’s Raja Ravi Varma. The 1881 oil on canvas represented history, legend and the royal lineage of the Maharaja of Travancore.
Replete with tropical elements, royal bodyguards standing in knee-deep water with a houseboat, the scene was epic. The rare oil painting illustrated the welcoming of the third Duke of Buckingham and Chandos, Richard Temple-Grenville, on his official visit to Trivandrum, a Princely state in southern India in 1880.
Temple-Grenville was the Governor General of Madras (1875-1880). In the artwork, Visakham Thirunal, the younger brother of the Maharaja Ayilyom Thirunal of Travancore, is welcoming the Duke, who is accompanied by his aide-de-camp and a few British army officers. Raja Ravi Varma was invited to document this historical event, and to paint “the moment when Buckingham alighted from the splendid barge, which must have undoubtedly brought him through the waterways of Kerala,” noted the sale.
The Maharaja is seen standing behind his brother in the building which bears the image of a conch shell, the symbol of the state of Travancore, as well as a welcoming banner for the Duke. It is likely that the ceremony depicted in the present lot took place at the Vallakadavu Boathouse, which was built in the 1820s and served as an important waterway hub for travel and cargo activity during the Travancore era. “Historical records reveal that the boattupura, as it is known to the locales, was used by the stately barges of the Travancore kings. The royal parties which went picnicking in the Veli Lake used to set sail from the boathouse. The priests, scholars and nobility who used to come to Thiruvananthapuram from far and near, used to alight here,” wrote T Nandakumar in 2004.
According to Erwin Neumayer and Christine Schelberger, during the Duke’s visit to Travancore, he was eager to meet Ravi Varma, a fact that made the Maharaja jealous. This visit ultimately turned out to be disastrous for the painter. “When the Duke met Ravi Varma in the presence of the king, he asked him to sit with them, which, according to the custom of the land was unthinkable. Ravi Varma declined to sit in the presence of the king and the three, the governor, the king, and the painter, remained standing while talking. Ravi Varma knew that he was now out of favour with the king and left Trivandrum never to come back during the lifetime of the king.” (Erwin Neumayer and Christine Schelberger eds., Raja Ravi Varma, Portrait of an Artist: The Diary of C Raja Raja Varma, New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2005, p. 300)
Upon completion, the present lot was gifted to the Duke as a token of appreciation. After his death, the painting passed on to his eldest daughter Baroness Kinloss. In the 1920s, it changed hands and became a part of Castle House, Buckingham, the offices of Buckinghamshire County Council and remained there until 1974, when a private collector acquired it.The scene in all its perfection its intricate details and the allure of the cultural fabric of those times created a once in a lifetime panorama of panache and royal regalia.
Writer: Uma Nair
Courtesy: The Pioneer
In the fast paced modern living, we tend to ignore our health that worsens with increasing anxiety and inadequate sleep, says Rajyogi Brahmakumar Nikunj Ji
Recently, a newspaper clipping grabbed many eyeballs when an elderly woman started the ‘Sleep Service Centre’ for those who were not able to get peaceful sleep. Through the initiative, the woman would talk to the person and sing a lullaby to him/her to make them fall sleep like a mother makes her child sleep. Result? The client comes out rejuvenated in just half an hour of sleep session. Isn’t it surprising and even saddening that now we need a sleep therapist to make us sleep naturally and peacefully? What kind of a society are we living in? If animals and birds can sleep well, why can’t humans?
Sleep is the best form of relaxation and is close to meditation. Those who sleep well will always do well. If we get sound sleep during the night, we get up fresh, feeling more active and energetic. However, in today’s world getting a sound sleep has become a rare phenomenon. It’s because today millions of people suffer from sleep disorders like sleep apnea, insomnia, restless leg syndrome, narcolepsy, etc. In fact, the count of those who get a broken, fitful sleep would be surplus. Sadly, many of these individuals resort to sleeping pills and drugs which ultimately worsens the proble.
Recent extensive medical surveys reveal that nearly 75 per cent of Americans were found with some kind of symptoms of sleep disorder and they needed tranquilisers for a few nights per week. Sleep disorders mostly result from anxiety and mental depression. This raises the question: ‘Where are we heading?’ The biggest causes of sleeplessness is bad mental health. We must understand that to not be able to have a sound sleep is not only in itself an unhealthy condition but it also causes or aggravates many other diseases.
For instance, sleep disturbance is one of the factors that leads to coronary heart diseases. However, most of us would subconsciously agree that tranquilisers are not the solution. The medical profession also now recognises that these tranquilisers, on which people highly depend, have various side-effects. These drugs represent a purely symptomatic approach, ignoring the underlying problems which actually cause these conditions. A British medical journal had recently published a report about experiments that have shown that sympathy can work well in cases of sleep disorders. It further said that in one trial, the doctors, instead of giving tranquilisers, spent some time with the patients and talked to them in an open space. They just had a brief chat with them, sympathising with them, and also gave them a few words of advice, explaining them why they had those conditions. There was no attempt at psychotherapy, but simply an attempt at being sympathetic. The results of these informal chats were astounding and the assessment showed that, with this replacement of allopathy by sympathy, depression in those patients dropped from a level of 80 per cent to 40 per cent and the additional benefits were that the patients suffered no side-effects. It indicated that mental depression, anxiety, etc., are mainly due to certain lifestyles, behavioural patterns and personality traits. It was also felt that the pattern of behaviour, designated as type ‘A’ which is characterised by competitiveness, impatience, etc., predisposes a person to coronary diseases and hypertension. As a result, the doctors all over the world are now increasingly advising such patients to practise meditation and to have proper diet pattern. It’s a medically-proven fact that ill mental health adversely affects one’s eating habits, which in turn, drastically influences our sleep and overall health.
A high intake of tea, coffee and colas also contributes to an inability to sleep. Under such a medical condition, proper meditation technique can be of great help if practiced regularly. In the hustle bustle of living a modern life, we tend to forget that it is the quality of life which matters the most and not the quantity. Hence, if we jeopardise our sleep for silly reasons, and knowingly undermine our health. It’s better to be wise for our own health benefits and make a habit to meditate everyday before going to bed to disengage the mind from unnecessary thoughts and have a sound and peaceful sleep.
Writer: Rajyogi Brahmakumar Nikunj ji
Courtesy: The Pioneer
Turner Prize winner, Anish Kapoor creates impactful masterpieces in the form of minimalist sculptures that feature simple materials, geometric shape and organic forms.
After first establishing his reputation in the 1980s with biomorphic sculptures in limestone and other natural materials, Kapoor began to explore the theme of “the void” in large-scale stone works, some with defined insides and outsides and others that clearly delineate empty spaces. In 2006, he installed Sky Mirror at Rockefeller Center, a 23-ton, three-story stainless steel sculpture that reflected the New York skyline. He described the massive work as a “non-object” because its reflective surface allowed it to disappear.
Drawing the human image in
An understanding of the shiny steel as well as the physicality of the concave sculptural circular, oval or elliptical creations becomes an expressionist and experiential vertiginous depth which draws viewers who walks toward his works to understand the sensorial impact of nothingness. Kapoor has said that he “wishes to make sculpture about experience that is outside material concern,” and he always manages to succeed in stirring multiple human responses to his work as he cuts through class, barriers and time.
Split as a sculpture is striking, it carries within a Zen auratic mood within its stainless steel sculptural ferment, and it must be seen apart from the “transcendentalisation” of the viewer. What entices and enchants is the vivid materiality, the modernist celebration of geometry, even as it subtly transcends changing appearances as humans who walk in front of the steel coalesce into slim gradients of animated legions. Kapoor revels in his craftsmanship, and you know that he has a deep understanding of physicality to give the sculpture’s concave centre the lustre required to turn it into a mirror. Kapoor invites the silent spectator to morph into a mirrored spectator who remains strongly three-dimensional, belonging at once to a hologram-like ecstatic effect.
The effect is a new remoteness that is born of the shiny luminosity and the humans that become part of the reflection become the insignia of the sculpture and therein lies the delight. It was at the Hong Kong Art Fair 2010 that I experienced the purity as well as the juvenile delight Kapoor could give his spectators with his lush highly polished steel sculptures.
Steel and colour
He also engages and revels in his sculpture — the steel and the colour give us an amalgam of the raw and refined, and like one critic in London said “he has fine-tuned the tension between the opposites, creating an opportunity for reparative unity that the ready-made unity of his globes — the foreordained unity of the circle.”
Split’s success is its highly polished mirrored surface that replicates the human figure in all its intricate lesser or greater than magnitude.
Indeed we all know that mirrors are seductive and Kapoor revels in giving his viewer’s a narcissist’s treat. But the sculpture is also about light and space, time and tide that waits for none.
Kapoor’s exploration of infinite space, over the years creates islands of reflections within and without. He continues to explore the notion of endless space, the void, as he pointed to, in his Boston show years ago “The idea of place has always been very important to my work. A place has to be original. The word original means that it has to do with ‘first’ and I think that is to do with centering oneself, allowing a thing to occur specifically rather than in general. A lot of my works are about passage, about a passing through, and that necessitates a place. The place of action. It is the moment of contact between the thing and the world. The spatial questions it seems to ask were not about deep space but about present space… and they seem to be very active, to be in various states of becoming,” says Kapoor. Art Dubai will celebrate the deeper understanding of a universal language in simple elements of time and its creator.
Writer: U Nair
Courtesy: The Pioneer
According to U. Nair, The All India Studio Pottery Exhibition showcased stoneware and ceramic niceties ranging from humble pots to platters and a few items of sculpture.
Four galleries full of stoneware and ceramic niceties that stemmed from humble pots to platters and a few items of sculpture. The All India Studio Pottery Exhibition 2019, presented by the AIFACS and Delhi Blue Pottery Trust was a treat for tired eyes. There seemed to be more work in stoneware, you could not help but stand and gaze quietly at the buff shades that is soothing to the sight.
It is called stoneware due to its dense and stone-like character. After being fired, this type is impermeable (waterproof) and usually opaque. In its natural state, stoneware clay is grey but the process of firing turns it into light-brown or buff coloured, and different hues may then be applied in the form of glazes. Generally speaking, stonewares are fired at temperature between 1,100-1,300 degree celsius.
And so back to the most loved pieces for this critic. On top of my list is Chitra Sharma and her small quaint sheep, hand-moulded and curious in terms of the many details and the impeccable nature of her composition. Small and immaculately thrown, the viewer is mesmerised by the soft transparent glaze that has strips of various lengths ringing the sheep’s bodies. They have a Biblical perfection and are born of a different spirit, and one readily reckons that she must be discovered in depth of details and compositions; pieces like this are incredibly hard to fire, as all kinds of accidents can occur in the kiln like cracking, warping and running of glazes, but here were four sheep that alluded all kinds of parts and places including the snow-filled mountain tops.
There were a number of platters on view too, but it was that of of Archana Singh and Bipasha Sengupta that stood out for their simplicity and patterns of both minimalist moorings as well as the eternal lotus leaves. Archana’s deft architectural drawing done by ceramic pencil on stoneware, high fired at 1,280 degree celsius, and was finished with a transparent glaze. It was softly stirring to the senses while Bipasha Sengupta’s stoneware platter with resplendent lotus leaves and flowers done as an outline in black slip with transparent glaze spoke at once of the spiritual fervour and the pensive beauty of the lotus leaves that have always been a subject of great interest and intrigue to artists of different mediums.
Man and nature
If there was a well-crafted, calculated work, it was that of Aarti Paliwal. Likewise, as a represented ceramicist she is highly skilled, and reflects a certain sophistication in her cup that speaks of man and nature. Each detail that she evokes in her pieces is sheer perfection. This being so, there are a few signs of the ecological aesthetic that regards such ‘flaws’ as stone bursts, cracked lips and unevenness as part of the beauty of imperfection in her magnificent cup and saucer.
“My ceramic work is inspired by humans, natural forms and textures — trees, rocks, mushrooms, the human figure, modern surfaces and the fusion of traces of human activity in relation to nature,” Paliwal explains. “I see my work as a personal journey exploring identity, connecting to roots and expressing the process of evolution and the layering of human destruction that makes up a whole. My forms are a reflection of man’s relationship with natural forms. What attracts me to the universal world is the changes that happen; it is as if we are looking at differing life forms and how we impact nature in a destructive way.”
Bird heads as a subject
Anjali Jaggi’s rooster heads, done in transparent glaze with red slip, were a candid stoneware set that also spoke of the spirit as well as the technique. It is an inspiration that hold’s one attention. Not all the works were worthy of scrutiny or intensity. Whatever the cause of the exclamations, whether a neatly turned bowl or a sculptural entity, what entices is the endearing quality of ceramics and stoneware.
There were lively visuals of decorative ceramic artworks, and a myriad of colours and designs that would tingle your senses. Among the simpler creations, one work was Manoj Kumar’s small fish, made of stoneware and high fired in transparent glaze with red and black slip. The small plate held its own because it ascertained to the truth that this is a highly expressive way of working and at its most basic relies solely on the hands as tools. On display one saw a varied working range, from intricate and intimate processes to a whole body experience.
Stoneware varies greatly in scale and style: from figurines delicately modelled with thumb and forefinger in the palm of the artist’s hand, to vigorous works produced by hurling wet clay at a structure to build up form, and everything in between. Creating with clay can be fast and immediate, also small and expressive, conjuring up images of the first figures of ancient times, whose features were squeezed out of wet clay to resemble animals and human forms.
In subtle and varied hues this was an exhibition that showed deft handling and unending passion and one must remember yeoman’s service done by Ravi and Leena Batra for the inspiration and infrastructure that Delhi Blue pottery provides potters of all ages.
Writer: Uma Nair
Courtesy: The Pioneer
The modernist mood is celebrated in many ways through the Asta Guru Modern Indian Art auction. It presents stellar works from various iconic artists. Francis Newton Souza’s Last Howl from the Cross, two works by Akbar Padamsee, a landscape by Ram Kumar, a fervent figurative from Jogen Chowdhury, and Nandalal Bose’s Arjuna are a few works that hold their own. Among sculptures, it is the venerated Himmat Shah’s sculpture that extols the modernist mood in myriad ways. All these stellar works, which are iconic in symbolism and the transcending trajectory of artistic evolutions, are being auctioned at the Asta Guru’s Modern Indian Art auction.
Nandalal Bose’s Arjuna
Nandalal Bose’s Arjuna, a magnificent tempera on silk, painted in 1944, is a national treasure and it is the first time it is being showcased to the public. It belongs to a freedom fighter and one of the pioneers of modern art in India. The painting was inspired by Tagore’s dance drama Chitrangada based on the Mahabharata. The painting shows a reclining Arjuna in the forest with an intriguing expression on his face. Historian R Siva Kumar says, “We never thought that the later version would ever be seen. We thought that the 1938 one at NGMA was the only one that we would see. Every piece of Nandalal Bose is a rare gem and bears the tag of a ‘national treasure.’
F N Souza’s Last Howl from the Cross 1963
Souza used to attend Mass with his grandmother every day and as a little boy he would watch the priests closely and be fascinated by the rituals of Catholicism including the crucifixion and the stained glass windows. But over the years his admiration also turned into deep criticism of the orthodoxy and the practices of the church and its many clergy. This work, Last Howl from the Cross 1963 was exhibited at the Grosvenor Gallery, London, in 1964 in a show titled The Human and the Divine Predicament, this canvas resembles Souza’s contentious 1959 painting, Crucifixion, which is currently part of the Tate’s permanent collection.
In this revolutionary piece, the iconic image of Christ’s crucifixion is rendered with malevolence rather than empathy. The gaunt martyr appears grotesque with his bared, fang-like teeth, vacant eyes and tangled, spiked hair. Like the figure they supposedly mourn, Souza has disfigured and distorted the men and women at the base of the cross, who appear to be heckling rather than grieving for the crucified figure. Thus, the mood set by the artist is one of revulsion rather than piety, recalling medieval scenes of heretics burning at the stake.
Akbar Padamsee’s Cityscape and Metascape
Akbar Padamsee’s Cityscape 1957 and his Metascape are two riveting works. Cityscape is a meditation on the beauty of nocturnes in myriad colours on line, form and movement. Painted from top to bottom, it has cubist geometry, it is also a meditation on the very act of painting. This early cityscape has only a few buildings at close range but in the vertical clusters of geometric shapes under a night sky, it is the shades of different dark colours and the work an incandescent aura. Padamsee’s Metascape too is a rare delight that conveys a restfulness, a depth and richness that is immediately striking. As the word Metascape suggests, in these paintings Padamsee is concerned with the mythic or archetypal landscape, which is expressed visually by a stringent ordering of timeless elements, such as the earth, the sun and the moon, in temporal space.
Jogen Chowdhury’s Dancer 1999
One artist who has always stood apart in figurative splendour is Jogen Chowdhury. His Dancer 1999 is a splendid creation in contours curves and cohesive beauty. Jogen has often included references to popular visual culture in his work and this is one of them. Over the period of 1970s onwards, he developed his own unique approach for the treatment of his subject. He drew inspiration from folk art sources, including Kalighats and Battala woodcuts. Jogen references local traditions and popular visual culture to comment on the complexities and contradictions of Bengali middle-class society. He combines fantasy with reality to produce subjects that are often grotesque, distorted and caricatures but they revel in the fluidity of finesse.
Jogen Chowdhury’s subjects are usually rendered against a black background, their fluid contours tightened with cross-hatching and heightened with touches of colour. The absence of a background allows the viewer to focus purely on the central character, evoking a sense of human alienation. His figures are woven into a shape with a spidery web of dense cross hatched lines, fleshed out with a hint of colour added with a soft dry pastel. “We did not have electricity in our houses and I had to read by the hurricane lantern. I had to fall back on black and white because we did not have enough light. We had a miserable state of living when we came to Kolkata as refugees. The criss-crossing lines, too, may be carrying traces of the environmental and mental complications of that time.”
Himmat Shah’s sculpture is a joy to behold. Spartan primal and deeply philosophical Himmat’s sculpture is a blend of the smoothened aesthetics of Brancusi and the cubist flavour of the yesteryear. Himmat has always admired both Brancusi and Henry Moore and created works that are born of modernist idioms. This work too belongs to the solitude that is Himmat’s own leitmotif. It has about it an aristocracy and a signature that harks back to early ages even as it speaks to us as a canticle of contemporary wisdom.
(The auction will begin from March 27 to March 28 in Mumbai.)
Writer: Uma Nair
Courtesy: The Pioneer
Sita-Ram, a presentation by Arshia Mathur, a disciple of Smt. Sindhu Mishra — is a distinctive approach, Bharatanatyam performance in the presence of Padma Bhushan Shri Raja and Radha Reddy, Guru Smt Rani Khanam and Smt Usha R K. When: March 30 time: 6 pm onwards Where: LTG Auditorium, Mandi House.
Curated by Praveen Upadhye, Eclectic Strokes, an art exhibition displays a collection of works by Indian maestros like S H Raza, M F Husain, Ram Kumar, F N Souza, T Vaikuntam, among a few, showcasing vivid processes, techniques, thoughts and emotions. WHEN: March 27 to April 10 Time: 7 pm onwards Venue: Art Spice Gallery, Bangla Sahib Road.
Korean Cultural Center presents Annual Flower exhibition with the theme of urban garden, bringing works by 21 artists. The idea, conceptualisation and the execution of the exhibition took three months. The extravaganza has not only used dry leaves, fruits and flowers, but also other material, such as cotton, wool threads and PVC films. Time: 9 am to 5 pm When: Till April 18 where: Korean Cultural Center, Lajpat Nagar.
Anant Art presents And trace in leaves and flowers that round me lie…, an exhibition of artworks by Arjun Das, Binay Sinha, Dayananda N, Ekta Singha, Laxmipriya Panigrahi, Pappu Bardhan, to name a few. when: Till March 31 TIME: 11 am to 7 pm Where: Shridharani Gallery, 205, Triveni Kala Sangam.
Curated by Alka Pande, Visual Arts Gallery presents No Number, No Name an exhibition of paintings, photographs, video works by Singapore-based, Indo-British artist Kavita Issar Batra. The works present a lens on society through natural, organic materials that ‘litter’ our streets and pavements. when: March 27 to April 6 TIME: 10 am to 8 pm Where: Visual Arts Gallery.
Courtesy: The Pioneer
Australian photographer John Gollings’ portrayal of buildings as living, ageless habitats rather than lifeless monuments is something one must not miss. By Chahak Mittal
As one entered the pavilion that showcased an array of Australian architectural photographer John Gollings’ works, a variety of large canvas-like photographs spoke volumes about the maestro’s years of endless wandering through the tribal and rural streets of India. Capturing the greatest works by artisans and architects, the photographs make it seem that the audience is almost visiting the places all across the world. But it is Hampi in India which had Gollings’ attention as he had covered the town with its various abandoned structures, which are now being listed under the archaeological sites of India.
However, the photographer feels that such masterpieces shouldn’t be forgotten, rather should be revived and preserved for generations to come. They are an evidence of the various cultures and traditions that rulers and kings followed. They shouldn’t be taken for granted or abandoned and should be regarded as major monuments and symbols of the rich Indian heritage.
Gollings’ exploration and documentation of both modern and ancient sites in India has resulted in a body of work that records its changing social, economic and political landscape. “These projects are of great cultural and historical significance. Their value should be kept intact,” he said.
Be it the architecture across Asia, the abandoned Chinese city of Jiaohe; the Khmer temples of the Angkor Wat, stretched across mainland Southeast Asia; the architecture of the Hindu Vijayanagar Empire; the grain stores of the nomadic Berbers in Libya; or the abandoned structures in Hampi, Gollings has brought his characteristic style, giving the viewer an understanding of the embedded perspectives in each of the captured structures.
It was in 1980 when Gollings had first visited Hampi and fallen in love with and developed admiration for the place. Ever since, he has been returning to the site every year.
Explaining his innate fondness of Hampi, the photographer said that the town is “vast” and its monuments are “an architectural splendour.” He said that even though he has had been visiting the place regularly for so many years, it doesn’t leave a stone unturned in surprising him each time. “I discover a new aspect every time I come here, which is why I have become so fond of it. I am addicted to Hampi. I have gained a vast experience in architectural photography here as the sites give me a chance to experiment in many ways. I am able to give an aesthetic touch to it by taking photographs in different lights and times of the day. There cannot be any other archaeological site like this,” said he.
He complained that ironically, ever since the place has had been listed in the world heritage sites, “it has become difficult to work here. It was much simpler and beautiful before. Now there are fences all around the place and timing that limit my visits. It is closed for visitors after five in the evening.”
His photographs, that were recently displayed at the India Habitat Centre’s Photosphere and also as part of the six-month long Australia Fest, were a classic example of time travel, with capsules featuring architectural changes.
The exhibition also showcased his most recent project for which the photographer went around capturing stepwells in India. He said that these are all examples of modern architecture. “They say a lot about traditionality and history of Indian temples. When I am capturing a building, I want it to stand out. Earlier, when Indian temples were captured in black and white, their colours would lie on the same page. But here, I wanted to make each colour stand out. Hence, these step wells with muddy look describe perfectly what architecture offers to traditions,” he explained.
Fashion might go out of style or change with time, but buildings and structures remain timeless. As an epiphany, the photographer said that it occurred to him that he “wanted to capture everything that had ever been built in the world.”
For him, it’s all about taking and waiting for that “one perfect shot.”
Writer: Chahak Mittal
Courtesy: The Pioneer
The Sixth Sense interepted as memory and déjà vu by designer Rahul Mishra and jeweller Siddharth Kasliwal . Story by Chahak Mittal
Unresolved disputes, past memories, false hopes and fables, bad thoughts and habits, they say might come to an end if one listens to his/her sixth sense and try to quieten the mind through delving deep into what went wrong in pursuit of things.
Described as the sleight of hand, something in the air, the eureka moment, inspiration out of the blue —extrasensory, intuitive and intangible — Sixth Sense is known to be the moment of enlightenment. Interpreting the feeling in five different ways, Chivas 18 Alchemy had five maestros from the world of fashion, art and design who have paved a way to explain how the sixth sense could change one’s outlook on life.
Through a play of mirrors and reflection, designer Manish Malhotra introduced the sixth sense through the feeling of intuition, Sudarshan Shetty did it with love, designer Rahul Mishra and jeweller Siddharth Kasliwal did it through memory and deja vu.
Sidharth’s bejewelled masterpiece revived the lost art of craftsmanship handed down by generations, paving a way for deja vu to happen.
Explaining why the internationally-acclaimed designer used memory as his idea of the sixth sense, Rahul says, “Memories are the biggest things that shape the conscience of every human being. They are most intimate things which people own. No two people can have the same memories. Even two siblings would have different memories of growing up and their childhood. It’s something very personal, yet very open. If you live for a 100 years, yet you would only be able to remember and retain only about 20 to 25 or 30 to 35 big islands that created a major impact in your life. Hence, I wanted to bring out in people the emotion that is common to all yet deeply personal and exclusive.”
As the designer completed 10 years at the Fashion Week this year, he explains that his memories are extremely important for him because they are an “inspiration” for him to go on and the only things which keeps him going. “I have just completed 10 years with the Fashion Week. And the first four seasons, I used to be under great pressure and burden myself with apprehensions. The same happened even at the Paris Fashion Week. However, the formula to do things there was finding to do them in my own way. My designs and work have always been inspired from the memories of my childhood. And today, even in Paris, they have been so accepting and welcoming of them,” says he.
He feels that since the time his daughter, Aarna, has been born, he has been “re-living” his childhood memories through her. This, he believes, makes him realise that he is “getting more comfortable in sharing my reminiscences, even in the city of romance. Now, they love listening to all my memories.”
Growing up in a sleepy village 53 miles off Kanpur in Malhausi, Rahul’s childhood was full of stories. He recalls them and says that today he feels that the best part about his career is, that he is “comfortable about my memories that even the audience readily accepts and celebrates them with me.”
Now, working with Chivas, “I want to reflect back on them as well.” He says that memories are “kind of bottled inside you in which you keep pouring things and when they finally come out, they become a manifestation of objects, stories and moments.”
As a designer, he feels that foundation and concept is the most intimate thing. For instance, when a person enters inside a building, s/he observes the architecture, glossy tiles, mirrors and glasses, floor, and its structure. However, he feels there is one thing which goes unnoticed — foundation and the process that resulted in its creation. Rahul calls this foundation as the soul of a being. “It is like the soul which one can’t see, but feel. When my garments come on the runway, you can feel that soul coming with them,” he explains.
His presentation displayed 18 of his artworks — all white on white — which were a reflection of the old artworks that he has showcased throughout these 10 years, 20 seasons. Using tambour frame hoops and creating a chandelier of memories in a play of light and shadow, the designer blends layers of time with the ingredients found inside the scotch whisky.
He says, “I have used all things natural and the ones that the brand uses — flowers and fruits. I have engaged the audience to also remember from their recollection that which collection was a particular artwork from. It’s like a double engagement made in the memory in an interactive way. I have handcrafted different small pieces and shown them in a similar light. They are made purely from organza and are hand-woven. They are made in a way that they create a reflection of the artwork on the floor in black and white, acting as a metaphor to reflecting upon my journey until now.”
He says that it was a difficult thing to conceptualise and implement. However, his motive was to make people realise that if a person tries to wipe out even a single memory, it will have a butterfly effect and life’s meaning will change drastically. “Hence, this is how even the smallest of memories can change your life,” says Rahul.
As he signs off, he adds, “I strongly feel that all the academic subjects are important for our pursuits of living life, but drama, poetry, love, emotions and shayari, is what we live for!”
Writer: Chahak Mittal
Courtesy: The Pioneer
The third day at the Fashion Week defied all boundaries of monochromes, giving the audience a wide spectrum of colours and revisiting the trend of mix and match
Bill Blass once said, ‘When in doubt, wear red.’ Well, the day three at the Lotus Make-up India Fashion Week somewhat defied this. By bringing a range of colours, and modern designs to the fore, it embraced the idea of confluence of variants, and mix and match.
Through a feminine, flirtatious, and romantic range, designer Suneet Varma’s collection titled Anaya was an inspiration from the incredible traditional motifs and embroidery from the decorative arts of India. The large abstract-shaped mirrors with multi-coloured thread embroidery was a modern and fresh take for the contemporary bride. Ranging from dark shades of midnight blue and burgundy with silver accents in lehengaswith off-shoulder blouses and short jackets, his collection showcased draped skirts worn with capes and ruffled organza shirts with high-waisted palazzo pants.
The collection in shiny silver and gold metallic foil was a perfect mix of glamour with traditional silhouettes. The crystal tassel collection was inspired from the magnificent Indian jewel tones. Emerald green, ruby red and sapphire blue in teardrop and triangular crystals were used creatively in three dimensional embellishment which was worn with dramatic and draped skirts.
Designer Sanjukta Dutta showcased her new collection Morom. It was an eclectic mix of traditional design in modern silhouette, pared down in the choicest of characteristic Assamese Silk, which is locally produced by getting cocoons of a particular lineage of worms found only in a single village in Assam. Inspired by the butterfly and natural flora of the state, her range comprised of Mekhala Chador, the traditional sari of Assam. The beauty of the designs was how she has used the age-old silk and created modern designs including jumpsuits, skirt and crop top, saris with cape and pant suit. Dominated by black, creme and beige, the collection was highlighted with motifs in red, silver and gold. Actress Karisma Kapoor looked elegant in a stunning black Mekhala Chadorhighlighted with red embroidery as she walked the ramp for Sanjukta. The look was completed with exquisitely designed jewellery by Narayan Jewellers by Ketan and Jatin Chokshi.
Karisma said, “It is such a wonderful cause and Sanjukta does a lot of work to promote women empowerment. She has done a lot for women in Assam. She has given 500 women an opportunity to work and make these wonderful handloom pieces. I love bright colours and I see today as the perfect occasion to wear it.”
Amrich’s collection aimed to create an immaculate confluence of shapes, fabrics, colours and surfaces, informed by their rich repository of engagement with Indian handloom and craft traditions. The exquisite hand-loomed and hand-crafted natural textiles were specially developed in different parts of the country in khadi cotton, wool, silks and silk blends.
They focussed on a fun take at mixing and matching or un-matching of sheer and opaque through different textiles and fabric construction in the line. They used thick khadi cotton yarn woven with desi tussar silk on an open weave to create translucent fabrics whilst also making use of the khadi yarns to play with checks and stripes. A newness was created in the shibori patterns by way of introducing interesting fabric manipulations in the process. Through hand-embroideries with threadwork and beads and hand-made metal sequins, they added an element of interest to the elegant textiles. With bold shades of black, red, blue and green, the colour palette was subdued.
The collection, by channelising the timeless elegance of the hand-made into garments that are versatile, modern and evocative, was a celebration of the juxtaposition of multiplicities and its exciting offshoots.
Designer Charu Parashar presented her collection titled Avant Gardiste, which was inspired by the Chintz floral Calico textiles of 19th century. She cleverly brought the concept and transformed it totally on a deep luxurious background of colours, creating a stunning AW’19 look. The collection featured age-old techniques of hand embroidery and Indian handlooms fabrics to create prêt and diffusion look. With floral and Chintz prints, she re-invented the old silhouettes to create a new look. Through navy blue, red and sea green, her colour palette included all shades of dark.
Known for her nature-inspired designs, her collections stood for high quality of craftsmanship and innovation of Indian ethnic luxury. Keeping the Indian sensibility in mind, her designs yet gave a global vibe.
With this collection, she continues to work towards a more sustainable fashion future, keeping the old art and techniques of block printing alive. The designs were all made with sustainable fabric such as khadi silk, raw silk, satin silk, silk velvet, georgettes, and organza. There were a range of clothes including Indian waistcoats, drape dhoti’s, jackets, skirts, capes, offering a fine balance between the simple styles with few details, in which the colours like navy blue, red and sea green alone create the expression and other well- known styles that are rich details.
This year she also showcased her first ever menswear look.
Designer Dolly J brought a hyper feminine collection injected with loud, saturated, pop colours like mint green and candy pink. The collection’s seductive appeal was offset by the 70s’ florals, pleated skirts and big fur sleeves. Bows and pleated frills formed an integral part of her red carpet-worthy, evening ensembles.
Photo: Pankaj Kumar
Writer: Team Viva
Courtesy: The Pioneer
Designers such as Manish Malhotra and artists such as Sudarshan Shetty blend fashion and art to create immersive experiences that evoke the Sixth Senses of intuition and love. By Chahak Mittal
Psychology suggests that if you have a sixth sense and strongly feel in a certain way about something, you should believe it.
As a part of its third edition, the Chivas is back with the Chivas 18 Alchemy with five alchemists and maestros from the world of art, design and fashion to discover the Sixth Sense. Showcasing the art of storytelling through scintillating and unparalleled expressions of craftsmanship defying formulae, the alchemists will present some immersive and interactive installations.
Actress Malaika Arora, designers Manish Malhotra and Rahul Mishra, artist Sudarshan Shetty and jeweller Siddharth Kasliwal have curated immersive experiences exploring the unusual, creative expressions of fantasy, love, intuition, déjà vu and memory, respectively.
Shetty, through the idea of love, tries to put together the abstract and transforms it into a tactile idea reflecting feelings, curating memories and expressing freedom. He calls the process as “gathering life’s scattered fragments into a kaleidoscope.”
Explaining why did he choose the feeling of love as his sixth sense, he says that it is something that he has been thinking about since quite a long time. For him, there are a lot of things that “represent love as it is the most primary emotion.”
He feels that love is also a kind of an “oversold” idea. He says, “It is oversold to such an extent that it becomes meaningless at times. I am interested to know that how love can also sometimes render itself meaningless. So, how do you reconcile and address that idea as a basic human emotion which is a part of your life in many ways.? I have been trying to find out the answer to this through a lot of my works. And this is one way of exploring it.”
In his curation, a group of six musicians and vocalists will present the love song, Bandish, which is also an old song. “It is because I am also playing with the what is contemporary and something that is classified as traditional. This also addresses the question of what contemporary really is? It’s questioning that since everything in life has a resonance with the past, so how do you get trapped in these everyday reminisces? Through this, I want to be able to make contemporary life more meaningful,” says Shetty.
He will create a mosaic of love, loss, mortality and infinity through voices, ragas, video and installation art, and make it into one. He says, “I believe in the power of magic, art, and love. I am looking to not only extend my limitations but also trying to bring out something through that process which wasn’t there before. It is also a way to discover a new aspect of life. It’s an effort that is trying to chart various categories that are unchartered.”
For him, the five senses are the means to be able to reach that Sixth Sense, “if there is one.”
He further explains that through his installation, apart from soulful music, there is a blend of cinema, art and sculpture. “There is a film that shows a setup of a chandelier above a dinning table. And by the end of the film, the chandelier falls on the table and then that is how it is standing.”
For Shetty, the falling of the chandelier acts as a metaphor for love, that cannot exist without a sense of it being lost. He explains, “If you are in love, you are also always aware that it could be lost. It’s a cycle of finding and losing. So, to represent the loss, I have dropped the chandelier. Love also needs bed rest sometimes.”
While Sudarshan presents the idea of love as the most intricate and precious emotions of life, designer Manish Malhotra brings his idea of Sixth Sense as ‘Intuition.’
He dabs into amber depths to paint a mirage of visions with mirrors and reflections — fleeting, lasting, diffused, spontaneous yet startling in clarity.
For Malhotra, intuition means the “perception” of things. “It’s your mind and the inner self that is sensing things. It’s your mind that speaks to you and let’s you perceive certain things like a reflection in the mirror.”
The designer who is very “fond of mirrors,” intuition is multi-faceted and reflects elements that are true. “They act as metaphors of reality. There’s nothing to hide when you are standing in front of the mirror, they show, reflect and speak what is true. In a certain atmosphere or among a group of people, it’s your intuition which acts as a mirror and let’s you perceive it clearly,” he explains.
Since it is Chivas, he says, in his curation, there has to be a bar, and in it, he has used a lot of mirror work. “It’s also a reflection of what is there within you. It represents a fearless approach of being your true self.”
Talking about how he blended his individual style and profession of designing fashion with the alchemy, he exemplifies his experience in the film industry which is of more than 29 years, “I am 52, but my label is a lot more younger — 14 years old. Now is the time when I am starting on a lot more different vertical and experimenting with various kinds of production work for design and decor. Hence, I wanted it to be reflected by something new that I have started now. It should be under alignment to my thoughts and vision.”
He believes that in life, experiences signify how blessed one is. “In my case, it has been a lot of work and I am blessed to be still working with the third generation of actors. There is so much of experience, which helps your intuition, mind, heart and thought process. I am grateful for so many experiences to be a part of me. And it’s all because of my intuition that I could make the right choices in my life,” he says as he signs off.
Writer: Chahak Mittal
Courtesy: The Pioneer