Sunday, January 29, 2012

Great Art of Tamils: Stucco sculptures

Siva Natraja Temple gopuram Chidambram
India is a vast land inhabited with flourishing human culture from earliest times of human civilization. It evolved a unique amalgam of religions,social and cultural space that we call Indian. Since it is a vast and more varied land India has remarkable differences in the art and culture in different parts. The influence of Aryan Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism provided a new composite culture in art specially temple art. The highly imaginative Tamil artists excelled in every form of expression--sculptures  in stone, bronze, wood, murals and paintings, architecture and stucco art. Though stucco has a long history in India and it flourished during Gandhara period it is in Tamil temples it acquired new heights of creative expression. The new architectural ideas of Pallavas that led to monumental gopurams in Chola period became the space on which to create massive narratives of stucco sculptures. Tamil stucco is created in stages. The gopuram stucco sculptures are in first stage made with bricks. Next  with a mortar of sand and lime is applied to the structure. In the last stage fine mixture of ground marble powder is applied and details of the sculpture are created. The sculptures are painted when the surface is dry. Most sculptures are painted in very vivid colours but some temples have a tradition of  painting in  simple cream white colour. When you appreciate the artistic beauty of a Pallava, Chola, Pandya and Chera temple you find art at every step, every nook every corner. The lower part of gopurams generally have stone sculpture  and higher up are very colourful stucco sculptures in great numbers.
thus Tamil temples had stone, bronze, stucco sculptures, metal reliefs, murals and wood carvings.

Friday, January 27, 2012

India art Fair 2012

Director Canvas Art Gallery  Rakesh Gupta at Fair

L to R Artist Shyam sherma, Dharmendra Rathod, Hem Raj, Pankaj

Art Lovers
In India we were not doing many things. But for three-four years we are having in Delhi an art fair that helps India and the world showcase their art. People come from small towns, from big cities, from India and abroad. Art galleries, collectors, curators, advisers, artists, students and the laity all come to see what new is happening and where the masterworks of maestros. Some pics for you to see the tenor and mood of India Art Fair.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Chennai and former Madras I love

Homeless by outer Church wall Chennai
My love for the great cultural conglomerate called Dravid and narrowly Tamil is greedy and selfish--more I relish  much more I desire. Though my focus of study for my book is early Tamil art of Pallavas, Cholas, Pandyas and Cheras I can not isolate and ignore all that marvellous in art and culture I come across.
After spending two and half months in Tamilnadu I was to take flight on Monday from Chennai. Since i arrived in Chennai on Saturday evening I decided to explore Chennai whole of Sunday. I arrived in the George town walked through Flower Bazaar, China Bazaar and surrounding areas. The life in these Bazaars is more quiet on a Sunday since all shops are closed and movement of people takes place.

A house for a  Sunday--Chennai street

Invoking God  in the street Chennai

Statue of king George v  where families live with their sweet children in squalor

Mothers n Children near king George V Statue Chennai
 I saw buildings that came up during Colonial period of British occupation of India. I also confronted beautiful people with warm souls but deprived of a respectful life. I discovered not persons but families, social groups, sharing poor humanity and a bleak life that blankets large number of people Chennai. There is daunting homelessness that is visible in its nakedness only on a Sunday. For sure these people are  the manual sinews of the the businesses that run in these Bazaars, they exist outside of most exquisite and stately Churches. for me the contrast of the opulent Houses of sufferer for the poor Jesus and the poor on the streets of Chennai was very daunting. I also wonder why  all the political parties offer lollipops at the time of elections without an effort to solve the problems of inequality, economic enablement and permanent improvement of the abject life of the very poor. 

Monday, January 9, 2012

The art of Tamils: Fragrance of Jasmine

I have  been working for quite some time on my next book on the art of ancient Tamils. I call it The Fragrance of Jasmine. I just returned from my yet another trip from Kerala and Tamilnadu (south Tamilnadu this time).
What holds me in awe is great imagination creativity, freshness and unique art that the Tamils created. My focus is  on visual fine arts from early period of Tamil history. Strewn throughout Tamilnadu in little known villages are great treasures of Tamil and therefore Indian art. There are problems of accessibility, transportation and basic infrastructure. But it is doubly or triply compensated by the love, affection and hospitality of common Tamils in beautiful small villages with uncommon warmth and desire to help and share. This honeyed land was called Tamilakam from early Sangam Era and  is so charming to behold, full of magic and ever-inviting in its matchless beauty.
It is a long haul to ingest the artistic landmarks in painting, murals, stuccoo, stone and bronze sculptures, and temple architecture of  Pandya, Chera, Chola and Pallavas. But then it is immense joy to immerse in this great art of Tamils.
Viktor Vijay
8th Janurary 2012