Wednesday, April 20, 2011

In Love With Realistic Art

Abhijit Jiwa

Not many people have the courage to drop their profession and take up their passion. It takes great strength to put your foot down and say, "This is my passion and I want to pursue it."But city artist Abhijit Jiwa is bent on following his childhood dream of becoming a full-time artist and creating awareness about realistic art. Born in Kerala and brought up in Mysore, Abhijit completed his BFA from Sarada Vilas College in city. Apart from being a self-taught artist, he has worked as an Exhibit Designer in Bombay, Bangalore and abroad. Now back in Mysore, Abhijit shared his views on art with us.

Since when do you have this passion for painting?
Abhijit Jiwa (AJ): I was interested in painting since childhood. I feel that I was born with the talent. However, I didn't get much encouragement from my family who said it is not possible to make a living out of it. But now that I am well settled, it is time to get back to full-time painting. I have done many one-hour paintings and want to dedicate time for more complex ones.

Doesn't exhibition designing interest you anymore?
AJ: It is a very interesting field and I have learnt a lot from it. Once you know exhibition designing, interior designing becomes very easy. I have worked on many projects all over the world. We have designed for aero shows, car launches and various other events.
I have also designed shops in Garuda Mall in Bangalore. But even after working for so many years on so many designs in Bangalore, nobody knows who I am. Nobody cares about who designed the shop. The company gives you an assignment, you design, the client pays you and it's over. There is no creative feedback. But once a British called me to say that my painting of a tiger was amazing. That is what you look for. It's not always about money, but about being appreciated for your work. That is why I am trying to distance myself from my profession and follow my passion.
Snow Leopard
You have mentioned in your blog (http://stormtiger. that you want to explore ways to create artistically excellent imagery. What do you mean by that?
AJ: It means having perfection in your work; everything from how you draw a road and early morning mist to how you mix colours and all the aspects of painting, should have perfection. Your painting should look good and stay in the viewers' mind for a long time. The viewer shouldn't think what the artist is trying to convey. He should know the instant he sees your painting. This, does not happen in abstract art. It makes the viewer wonder what exactly the artist is saying. The painter should not fool the viewer by saying, "My art is so deep that it is beyond your ability to understand." In realistic art, you know what you are looking at — a vase is painted as a vase and you see exactly that; the painting of a tiger looks like a tiger.

Then what makes your painting stand out from the rest? What is your specialty?
AJ: I am interested in realistic art. Most of the artists today are forced into abstract painting. But I want to bring realistic art back to mainstream here. When you see the painting of the lady with the lamp, it stays in your mind for a long time, but abstract paintings don't. A lot of skill is involved in realistic art. The knowledge of colour combination, anatomy, perspective, expression etc. is very important.
Abhijith's entry to the Anders Zorn Master of the Month 
Why do you feel there is a need to 'bring back' realistic art?
AJ: People have a wrong assumption that contemporary or modern art means abstract art. But it is not true, contemporary means 'relating to the present time' and be it realistic or abstract, both are contemporary. My aim is to clear this misconception. In mid 1850s, art was confined to Rome — the Rome Academy of Art. Paintings had to be dark with just one light source and depict religion, angels and demons. The church controlled artists and they had no freedom. Later, a group of artists rebelled against this and started to paint what they wanted to. It was the time of impressionists. That particular period of time was great. Objects and scenes were painted on how the eye saw them. However, as time went by, there was a deviation leading to abstract and realistic. The beauty of realistic painting took the backseat and many forgot its existence. I want to create awareness about the rich heritage of realistic art.

What will be your first step towards this aim?
AJ: I am planning to hold an exhibition of only wildlife paintings by this year end. Also I have plans of starting an "Artist's Workshop" to teach what I know to others. But my first priority is to give more time to painting.

(Published in Star of Mysore dated April 20, 2011)

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Boulevard Of Blossoming Trees

Spring is in the air
The flowers start to bloom
The blossoms on the trees
Fill the air with sweet perfume

Spring is in the air
Spring is everywhere
It's growing in the trees
It's the flowers and the bees *
(*Timeless Tales - Thumbelina from Hallmark)

Come spring and Mother Nature dresses all the trees with fresh leaves and colourful flowers. Streets are filled with fragrance and roads covered with a flowery carpet. The melodies of koels, chirping of birds and buzzing bees add more flavour to the season. And how can we forget the smell of fresh earth brought by the first rain? Even with the regular felling of trees for widening roads and construction of buildings, our city has a few places which deck themselves like brides when spring arrives. So, if you are missing out on all these beautiful scenes because of your busy lives, then SOM is here to take you on a special weekend spring express to some of the city’s streets. Hop on, take a deep breath of fresh air and drown yourself in the sheer beauty of nature.
Manasagangotri: Trees full of yellow flowers welcome everyone to the 739 acres campus of Mysore University. Be it early morning and evening walkers or vehicle commuters, Manasagangotri is a unique place in Mysore city which has immediate soothing effect. Marked by a few pink flowers in January and February, the campus is set ablaze with copper pod trees in spring. Also some jacaranda trees in between make a beautiful combination with the yellow. The fragrance of tender leaves and blooming flowers has the power to refresh any tired mind and body. It is a natural spa in all senses.

Valmiki Road
Valmiki road: Apart from previously being haunted by complaints from citizens about the bad condition of the road, the Valmiki road is blessed with a natural shamiyana. The rain trees on both the sides shield commuters from the scorching sun in summer and acts as an umbrella during rain. Although these trees are scattered around the city, this particular street stands out among the rest along with the stretch near Kalamandira.

Kukkarahalli Lake Road
Kukkarahalli Lake Road: This street leading to Railway track and lined with rain trees, always has a cool surrounding with the lake on the other side. Apart from the many trees lined up alongside the lake, these rain trees stretch their arms through to the other side of the road. This is one among the few streets which offer shade all round the year.

Vontikoppal Road
Vontikoppal Road: This road has turned into a busy stretch in the recent past with super markets and eat-outs rising to keep pace with the growing demands. Be it the officers or school children, college students hanging out or the residents of the area — with all the concrete structures, many fail to notice the beauty added by the trees on this road. The copper pod tress touch the sky on both sides and the street is covered with a natural yellow carpet with the falling flowers.

Vivekananda Road

Vivekananda Road
Vivekananda Road: If copper pods cover one road, the adjacent street is covered with gulmohar trees. What more could the residents of this calm and quiet area ask for?
The copper pods are in full bloom as the gulmohar trees are getting ready to be decked up in the coming months.

Ramakrishna Ashram

Ramakrishna Ashrama
Ramakrishna Ashram: If you love flowers, then this is right place for you to spend some quite time (morning or evening). There is not a single month when this place does not have flowers. Even though Ramakrishna Ashram in Yadavgiri is surrounded by busy streets, its serenity makes it a true heaven on earth.

According to a few elders of the city, there was a time when the entire city would look festive during spring. It is sad that now we just have a handful of such streets. However, it is upto us, the citizens, and the District Administration to take care of what we are left with.

Rain tree: Common name: Saman tree; Botanical name: Samanea saman.

The rain tree is identified by its umbrella like canopy of foliage and pink flowers. It was brought origin-ally from Central America to Sri Lanka. March-May and again tow-ards the end of the year the green canopy is dotted with pink and white. Each flower stalk bears one central and a surrounding circlet of florets. Bunches of long stamens, half pink and half white, protrude from each. In Malaysia, drooping of leaves is considered to portend rain, but in India it is believed that the name was given due to the tree intermittently spraying the ground beneath with moisture. It was later discovered that this was caused by minute insects.

Gulmohar: Common name: Flame tree, Royal poinciana; Botanical name: Delonix regia.

The gulmohar was discovered in the early 19th century in its native Madagascar by botanist Wensel Bojer. In spring and summer, it is covered with clusters of flame-red flowers. The flowers have four spoon shaped spreading scarlet or orange-red petals and one upright slightly larger petal which is marked with yellow and white. The delicate, fern-like leaves are composed of around twenty to thirty tiny, oblong leaflets, which fold up at the onset of dusk. Gulmohar gets 30-40 ft tall, but its elegant wide-spreading umbrella-like canopy can be wider than its height.

Copper Pod: Common name: Rusty shield-bearer, Peela gulmohar; Botanical name: Peltophorum ptero-carpum.

Sometimes also called yellow flame tree because of the resemblance of its fern-like leaves to that of gulmohar, the copper pod is a native of Sri Lanka, the Andaman, the Malay Peninsula and North Australia. The tree is cultivated as an ornamental. The timber is used for making furn-iture. Its flowering period is long and variable; if one tree is in full bloom, its neighbour may not have gone farther than bud stage. A tall tree, often 24 mt high, dense and dark when in full leaf, it is a treat to the eyes when in full bloom.

Jacaranda: Common name: Blue jacaranda, Neeli gulmohur; Botanical name: Jacaranda mimosifolia.

The jacaranda is a native of Brazil and its fifty species are widely distributed in the islands of the Caribbean, South America, Florida and Mexico. Due to its beauty, it has been introduced into many tropical and sub-tropical countries also. It is a tree of medium height of around 18 mt. with big leaves divided into tiny segments and its propagation is through seeds. Each little leaflet is pointed oblong and at the end is a leaflet slightly larger than the others. The flowering season is from March to May. In Egypt, it is chiefly used for making pianos.

Spring festivals
India is a land of many cultures and hence spring is welcomed in different ways. But most of them spread the same message — victory of good over evil.
Holi: The festival of colours falls on the full moon day during the month of Phalguna, in late March. Before this day people sort out all unwanted things to be burnt on Holi day. This is set ablaze on the eve of Holi. The next day starts with the sprinkling of coloured water and powders.

Navroze: This festival of the Parsis is celebrated on March 21. It is considered the Parsi New Year (only by the Faslis sect but celebrated by all) and hence the name ‘Navroze,’ which literally means New Day.

Bihu: It is the biggest festival for the people of Assam and brings a sense of solidarity and unity among them. It comes thrice a year and marks the changes in the seasons. The first is ‘Bihus’ and falls on ‘Chait Sankranthi.’ It is a spring New Year and an agriculture festival. Other Bihus are known as Magh Bihu and Kati Bihu.

Good Friday: This festival is observed on the Friday before Easter. It is celebrated in March- April to commemorate the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.

Easter: It marks the resurrection of Jesus Christ and is celebrated between March 22 and April 25, on the Sunday following the full moon.

Ugadi: The term yuga (era) and aadi (start) meaning the start of an era is the New Year's Day for the people of Deccan region in India. The people of Maharashtra term this festival as Gudi Padwa, Sindhis as Cheti Chand, Punjabis as Baisakhi and Tamilians as Puthandu.

Basant Panchami: This festival is celebrated mainly in Haryana and Punjab during February-March to welcome spring. Kite flying is a major event of this festival.

(Published in Star of Mysore dated April 16, 2011)

Sunday, April 10, 2011

"Aim of an actor is not to entertain but to enlighten & enrich”

I am an actor by accident, producer by compulsion and director by choice," says the multi-faceted Amol Palekar, who was in city to inaugurate the National Theatre Festival 'Bahuroopi' at Rangayana on Apr. 6. A native of Mumbai, Amol Palekar is a product of JJ School of Arts. He made his debut in the Marathi film 'Shantala! Court Chalu Aahe' by Satyadev Dubey and started his own theatre group 'Aniket' in 1972.
He won the National Film Award for Best Feature Film in English (2006) for Quest, National Award for Best Film on Family Welfare (2001) for Dhyaas Parva and Filmfare Best Actor Award (1980) for Golmaal. He is best known for his roles in Rajnigandha, Chitchor, Golmaal among many others.
This was not his first visit to city with his previous visit to CAVA a few years back. During his recent visit, Amol Palekar also promised to direct a play for Rangayana in the days to come. We had a brief interaction with him after the function. Read on…

How did the transition from painter to cinema happen?
Amol Palekar (AP): That is a very old story I have left behind me. All I can say is that it was a welcome accident and it changed the course of my life.

We have seen your Golmaal and the Golmaal(s) of today. While yours was a uniquely hilarious and silent yet effective, those of today are not very appealing. Why do you think there is such a big transition?
AP:Only the title of the movie is borrowed. In today’s era of remakes and remixes, cinema has nothing original and interesting to offer. The transition is because today’s generation demands it and they will have to answer the question. And for those who like the movies of the good old days, they will have to demand for it.

Do you think cinemas will go back to the ones made during your times?
AP: I don’t think so. As time progresses, we have to go ahead. We should look forward. That is what I believe in.

Is there any particular message you want to convey through your movies? You said ‘The aim of an actor is not to entertain but to enlighten and enrich.’ What is that enlightenment?
AP: Messages are given by politicians and not artistes! Even though you know so many things, there will be something which will make you sit up and say 'Oh my God, I didn't know this' and that changes the meaning of your life. That is enlightenment. That is when you feel you have understood the meaning of life better.
Through my works if I am able to give you that kind of awareness (enlightenment is too big a word for it) which will help you to understand life, or just one little layer of life, slightly better, there is no greater pleasure. Such enlightening can also be entertaining in its own way. It need not be boring, grim and studious. But this whole concept of — you have to be "entertained" — makes no meaning to me. If the present generation wants to be 'entertained' that way, I beg to differ.

Who do you prefer – Amol Palekar the actor, director or the artist?
AP: This reminds me of an old story – seven blind men met an elephant. Each said 'I know what the elephant is.' One said the trunk is the elephant, other said the tusk, other tail, etc. Similarly, how can there be one Amol Palekar? There are so many aspects to him, every aspect is different, and hopefully equally interesting. All of them combined make me complete and I love each and every aspect which is creative, not succumbing to commercial pressure and which is not mainstream. When you see my film, you should feel it is something different and unique and say ‘Oh! I love this.’ As long as I am able to achieve something in painting, acting or directing (or maybe tomorrow I will try something else) by being different, I will love it.

What is your ultimate goal? The point where you feel 'This is what I always wanted to do…'
AP: I always wanted to be creative and have been able to do so. To retain that work consistently for so many years itself is a fulfilling and overwhelming feeling. I started my career way back in 1967. For all these years, being able to work with the same passion and belief and with people responding "This is nice... we applaud you for that... we love you for that," is a great achievement.

Which work of yours do you consider as a masterpiece?
AP: That is something you should judge and decide. As for me, I feel very proud that there is not a single work which I am ashamed of. Most of the time, people give excuses stating some problems and compulsions for their work. But I don’t have to give any such excuses for any of my work. I am completely satisfied.

We know Amol Palekar the artist, actor and director. But personally who is he?
AP: Amol Palekar is a person who loves life, who loves people, who cares for his close ones and who will go miles to experience a beautiful creative moment. I love the satisfaction creative moments bring. Those moments make my life richer, more meaningful and worth living.

How better can theatre be promoted?
AP: People have to feel the urge. That belief will show them the way. Theatre has managed to survive for so long. With the advent of cinema, theatre collapsed. Still it survived. And later, with the advent of TV, both cinema and theatre collapsed. TV entered your bedroom. Hence, no one made an effort to go watch cinema. But both survived again. Also, people who practice theatre need to know why are they doing theatre, what is it that gives them the satisfaction, the kick, and the inevitability of why they are doing theatre and not something else? Once you have an answer for all this and find your strength, you will know how to exploit it.

(Published in Star Of Mysore dated April 9, 2011)