Monday, December 14, 2009

Open Window: Kwon Kiyoon


When I received Kwon Kiyoon's catalogue of his solo show a few days back, I remembered my last meeting with him in May 2008 in Korea. I’d met him as I’ve done so on every visit to Korea. He was one of my teachers while I was studying in college and have been inspired after every interaction with him.

 Kwon Kiyoon graduated from Seoul National University in the early eighties and  chose to return to his hometown, Andong, which was a centre for scholars. In 1988, he began to paint the landscape of Andong and its surroundings. His interest in the 17th century painter Jung Sun led him to study the classical tradition of landscape painting. Jung Sun had changed the way landscape painting was practised in the history of Korean painting when he began to paint outdoors. Landscape painting had until then been primarily constructed from the painter’s imagination of the observed world. The art forms of painting, literature, calligraphy and seal-making were interwoven and inseparable until the 20th century and Kwon Kiyoon’s art practice can be viewed from this premise.

Kwon Kiyoon uses a methodology where he chooses an outdoor location and works on a painting from start to finish in order capture the spirit of the landscape at that particular site. However, his landscapes reflect the philosophies of classical Korean and Chinese landscape painters, where the painting surpasses the depiction of what is seen and is invested with the artist’s experience of life. 

"Sukmoon" 96 cms X 39 cms Chinese ink and watercolour on handmade paper 2008

"Moorung's spring" 58 cms X 97 cms Chinese ink and watercolour on handmade paper 2009

"Samgujung's pine tree" 97 cms X 50 cms Chinese ink and watercolour on handmade paper 2009

"Guryong waterfall" 64.5 cms X 34.5 cms Chinese ink  on handmade paper 2006

"Suok waterfall-1" 57.3 cms X 40.5 cms Chinese ink and watercolour on handmade paper 2004

"Chungyung Buddhist temple"  Chinese ink on hand fan 2007

"Chungyung Mountain-3" 31.5 cms X 26.5 cms Chinese ink  on handmade paper 1995

Kim Kyoungae

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Travel: Udaipur

Traversing through centuries on the same terrain...snapshots, references and drawings from a two-day trip to Udaipur; the mighty kingdom of Mewar.

Malavika Rajnarayan

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Speakspace: Thursday's musings

He laid his mittens on his knees, unbuttoned his coat, untied the tapes of his face cloth, stiff with cold, folded it several times over, and put it  away in his pants pocket. Then he reached for the hunk of bread, wrapped in a piece of cloth, and, holding the cloth at chest level so that not a crumb should fall to the ground, began to nibble and chew at the bread.The bread, which he had carried under two garments, had been warmed by his body. The frost hadn’t got it yet.


More than once during his life in the camps, Shukhov had recalled the way they used to eat in his village: whole pots full of potatoes, pans of oatmeal, and, in the early days, big chunks of meat. And milk enough to bust their guts. That  wasn’t the way  to eat, he learned in the camp. You had to eat with all your mind on the food-like now, nibbling  the bread bit by bit, working the crumbs up into a paste with your tongue and sucking it into your cheeks. And how good it tasted-that soggy black bread! What had he  eaten for eight, no, more than eight years? Next to nothing. But how much work had he done? Ah!!

  From the novel 'A day in the life of Ivan Denisovich' by Alexander Solzhenitsyn


I have been reading the writings of Alexander Solzhenitsyn over the past few months,and have been quite engaged with  the  way he describes the human condition and explores the very nature of survival in his works.The way Solzhenitsyn describes his protagonist Shukhov,the absolute necessity of a piece of black bread just for mere survival and the absolute fruitlessness that he then sees in  the extravagance of living,makes me draw comparisons  with the works of  Somnath  Hore(an artist I hold in very high regard).


Recently, I spoke to a few art students about the commonality shared between the starving  farmer in the drawings of Hore and the overworked camp prisoner in the novel of Solzhenitsyn…. both exist from one minute to another…for both of them,survival is of primeval importance and yet,they both do not know what the next minute might bring….


I feel that the practice of art making is not very far removed from the above condition. Two of my colleagues recently came to my studio and we had an interesting debate on how the feeling of fulfillment as an artist can sometimes be the death of the creative process….by this I do not mean that one needs to wallow in feelings of inadequacy  to make good art….

"I believe that one should be able to control and manipulate experiences,even the most terrifying-like madness,being tortured,this kind of experience-and one should be able to manipulate these experiences with an informed  and intelligent mind.I  think that personal experience shouldn’t be a kind of shut box and mirror looking narcissistic experience.I  believe it should be generally relevant.”

                                                               -Sylvia Plath

Sonatina Mendes

Speakspace: News link

A news item from today's papers reports that a rare collection of unpublished poems by Rabindranath Tagore were found at Visva Bharati in Santiniketan. It is said that the poems were inspired by his own paintings. Here is the link.

Speakspace: When blossoms are stained...

Yoon Dooree, born in Pusan, South Korea in 1928.  Yoon, a fifteen years old girl was picked up from near her home by Japanese soldiers.  She became a sex slave for Japanese soldiers during the Second World War. Yoon had been living in Woolsan, near her hometown since she was released from the Japanese military camp. She never had gone back to her hometown. 

She had isolated herself from her family, friends, relatives and everybody whomever she knew. There was nobody to carry out the funeral when she died a few months ago.  

I still remember, so clearly, what she had said in an interview: “I am not willing to accept compensation because money has no meaning at this stage of my life. But I will fight for an apology from the Japanese government”.


Painted by one of the victims

The cherry blossom symbolises Japan. 

It is also eloquent about the myth that the tree sucks blood from deaths and blossoms in red.

Kim Kyoungae

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Speakspace: Gems from Eastern Lands

One of the challenges I face with painting is where to elaborate and where to conceal. Conversations  of late with friends have often ended up with discussing ancient chinese art.  The artists from those times had supreme command over the choices they made while either concealing certain elements or revealing  others. When they revealed, they opened up the world; and when they concealed, they invited the viewer to open up the world! 

As a graduate student, I remember spending a great deal of time looking at chinese paintings and japanese woodcuts. The high-point was an exhibition of original woodcut prints portraying Kabuki actors that was brought to the galleries of Chitrakala Parishath in Bangalore. Here's an image that triggered my memory bank.

Malavika Rajnarayan

Speakspace: Quote

'The artist frees himself from the object because it prevents him from expressing himself exclusively through purely pictorial means". - Kandinsky

Friday, October 2, 2009

Speak Space: Patta Chitra Animation

Non-urban art never fails to fascinate me with its vitality and contemporaneity. The painting that I am currently working on has an image that is a derivation from a Patta Chitra that I'd once seen. In the process of looking for it, I came across this video of a 21st century spin on the character of Arjuna from the Mahabharata.  The video can also be viewed youtube.

Malavika Rajnarayan

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Watercolours by Malavika Rajnarayan

Infiltrations   Watercolours on paper   9.5 in. X 12.5 in.   2009

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Speak Space: A story of two painters

An excerpt from Orhan Pamuk's My Name is Red ; Chapter 51

They tell a story in Bukhara that dates back to the time of Abdullah Khan. This Uzbek Khan was a suspicious ruler, and though he didn’t object to more than one artist’s brush contributing to the same illustration, he was opposed to painters copying from one another’s pages—because this made it impossible to determine which of the artists brazenly copying from one another was to blame for an error. More importantly, after a time, instead of pushing themselves to seek out God's memories within the darkness, pilfering miniaturists would lazily seek out whatever they saw over the shoulder of the artist beside them. For this reason, the Uzbek Khan joyously welcomed two great masters, one from Shiraz in the South, the other from Samarkand in the East, who'd fled from war and cruel shahs to the shelter of his court; however he forbade the two celebrated talents to look at each other's work, and separated them by giving them small workrooms on opposite ends of his palace, as far from each other as possible. Thus, for exactly thirty-seven years and four months, as if listening to a legend, these two great masters each listened to Abdullah Khan recount the magnificence of the other's never-to-be-seen work, how it differed from or was oddly similar to the other's. Meanwhile, they both lived dying of curiosity about each other's paintings. After the Uzbek Khan's life had run its long tortoiselike course, the two old artists ran to each other's rooms to see the paintings. Later still, sitting upon either edge of a large cushion, holding each other's books on their laps and looking at the pictures that they recognised from Abdullah Khan's fables, both the miniaturists were overcome with great disappointment because the illustrations they saw weren't nearly as spectacular as those they'd anticipated from the stories they'd heard, but instead appeared, much like all the pictures they'd seen in recent years, rather ordinary, pale and hazy. The two great masters didn't realize that the reason for this haziness was the blindness that had begun to descend upon them, nor did they realize it after both had gone completely blind, rather they attributed their haziness to having been duped by the Khan, and hence they died believing dreams were more beautiful than pictures.

Malavika Rajnarayan

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Open Window: Karishma D'Souza

Theen Tamasha has decided to extend its blog to friends from the artist community and share their work, thoughts and ideas through this section called Open Window. Our friend Karishma D'souza is a painter who has been living and working in Baroda after completing a postgraduate programme at the Faculty of Fine Arts, M. S. University of Baroda in 2006. Karishma's paintings deal with the everyday middle-class Indian life and her concerns regarding towns and cityscapes that are encroaching on the environment and changing existing landscapes. Her works reflect her compassionate approach into these inquiries as she imaginatively elaborates upon the human communion with nature.  

On a recent visit to her studio, she read to us a few selected poems by African American poets. Here is a link to Gwendolyn Brooks' The Pool Players. Seven at the Golden Shovel.  Listen to the audio clip that includes a little commentary by the poet before she reads this short piece. 

Theen Tamasha's Open Window shows you some images of Karishma D'souza's paintings that are currently on view at Hacienda gallery, Mumbai as a part of Card-o-logy, curated by Jasmine Shah Varma, an exhibition of original postcards by 61 contemporary Indian artists .

Titles of paintings (Top to bottom): Trepidation, The Village, Sleeper, Holiday, Evening, Untitled

Watercolours on paper. 2009

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Showing this month!

Theen Tamasha - Kim Kyoungae, Malavika Rajnarayan and Sonatina Mendes are showing their paintings in Card-o-logy, an exhibition of original picture postcards by 60 artists, curated by Jasmine Shah Varma at Hacienda Gallery in Mumbai from the 4th of September 2009 to the 18th of September 2009.

Picture Postcards by Kim Kyoungae
Acrylic on paper - 5 in. X 7 in.

Picture Postcards by Malavika Rajnarayan
Watercolour on paper- 4 in. X 6 in.

Picture postcards by Sonatina Mendes
Watercolour on paper- 4 in. X 6 in. (First three images) 5 in. X 7 in. (Last three images)