Monday, July 15, 2013

EDITORIAL - Love, Sex aur Dhokha in Contemporary Artists' Lives..and more..

Love, Sex aur Dhokha in Contemporary Artists’ Lives

Some artists are like that: they love but are not bound by it. They are like rainclouds; free and floating. They want to belong to the earth. They send messages of love through the pining fingers of rain. Earth shivers in that touch. She would say, even if you are a wanderer I love you because none loves me like the way you do. Clouds accept these words of appreciation and love her further with thunder and lightning. They electrify her dreams. She develops goose pimples all over in the forms of fresh greenery. Her dreams break open the pods and come out as fresh growths. Her musical ensembles sing songs of praise for the clouds through the voices of innumerable invisible creatures. She is in love. But clouds do not stay. She continues her wait soothed by memories, till they come back may be when, who knows. When they don’t come back, she herself turns into rain; a rain of tears and endless moments of pining. 
(Maharajakumari Binodini Devi)
That was what happened between Maharajakumari Binodini Devi and Ramkinkar Baij. You may not know Maharajakumari Binodini Devi. But when I say just Binodini, you will definitely remember the elegant portraits of her painted by Ramkinkar Baij. Binodini belonged to the royal household of Manipur and she was the princess of that time. Proficient in all forms of fine arts including poetry and theatre, she came to study art at Kalabhavana, Santiniketan in early 1940s. Young, vibrant, unconventional and rebellious genius Ramkinkar was a teacher there. He found his muse in Binodini. They were in love. This was a love affair with a tragic end foretold as the disparity of their social origins loomed large over their love. Their love was destined to be celebrated in wishful literature than to be lived to a logical end. Ramkinkar’s lowly origin and Binodini’s stately status built up an insurmountable wall between them. Binodini went back to Manipur, lived the life of a cultural impresario and philanthropist, married and mothered, and finally breathed her last on 17th January 2011, curiously exactly one year before the largest retrospective ever of Ramkinkar Baij curated by K.S.Radhakrishnan.
(Artist Ramkinkar Baij)
Let’s consider a different scenario. Had Ramkinkar and Binodini got married resisting all social pressures what could have been the outcome of their lives? Would the muse have bemused the artist forever? Could she have become a cultural impresario of Manipur or North East India in general? Or the romantic moorings would have degenerated into the materialistic and possessive ramblings that generally eat into the souls of creative people like cancerous cells? We see love turning into venom and bonding becoming bondage. In my view, if Binodini had married Ramkinkar their marriage would have been a great tale of tragedy, scandal and perennial abuse of personal freedom because Ramkinkar was not a person cut out for family life; he was a bard of his own environs. He was a mendicant of his own terrains. He was creator of his own world of imaginary beings that today we know as his works of art. He was an ‘awaara baadal’ (wandering cloud), he was a ‘be ghar bechaara’ (a homeless poor). Binodini was the counter force of all. She was like earth, well placed in her orbit with pre-defined revolutions.

(Maharajakumai Binodini Devi)
Some love affairs are to be open-ended. Happy endings bring tiredness and dejection. Often walls become the confidante and companion of spouses who had loved each other once upon a time. When sad endings happen, work of art occurs, poetry streams, literature sprouts, music rises and many things happen. When I read ‘Crimson Rainclouds’, a play, written by Binodini in Manipuri, staged for the first time in 1966, published in a book form in 1967 and translated into English by her son Somi Roy in 2012 and published in three languages in a single book by Thema, Kolkata, I think of all those days when Ramkinkar and Binodini spent their beautiful moments together in and around Santiniketan. 

( The artist and the muse)
‘Crimson Rainclouds’ is the story of Gautam, a non-conformist young painter. Indu is his muse. She coaxes him to take up a job that he rejects. His argument is simple; if the institution is desperately looking for him to join why should he go through the formality of an interview? Indu, though belongs to a rich family, works in a school to earn a salary with which she supports Gautam. Her uncle who had in fact recognized Gautam’s talents first time, however wants Indu to be settled in life with a man of means. Indu is not able to take a decision on this conflict. She wants to live with Gautam. But the very same Gautam, when asked by the uncle agrees to advice Indu to get married to someone of her uncle’s choice. Finally Gautam walks away leaving Indu to handle her own fate. Only Keinatombi, a way side vendor woman with unspecified age (who almost supports Gautam’s materialistic needs from a distance, unlike Indu who does it as a muse from close quarters) follows him to infinity. 
( 'Binodini' )
We have all the reasons to believe that Gautam is Ramkinkar and Indu is Bindodini. The play is an after-thought of her indecision to marry an ‘unsettled’ Ramkinkar. As an egalitarian Princess, she could have eloped with a commoner like Ramkinkar. But she did not enter into a scandal that would have tarnished the image of her royal family. But a woman of substance, she could speak about this relationship openly though camouflaged in dramatics. It is a well known fact that Ramkinkar and Binodini were involved. But we do not know whether Binodini’s indecision was a result of Ramkinkar’s own reservations about leading a family life with Bindodini. In the play we see the moments where Gautam despite his love her Indu, happily or without much remorse playing along with her uncle. In that sense, was Binodini making a snide remark at Ramkinkar for not taking a decision on her? As a woman with brains, Binodini took the bold step of protecting her ‘individuality’ by not eloping with a man who wants to be eternally free. So this apparently innocent looking and wishfully romantic play that runs in less than fifty printed pages is a final judgement on the historical question; why Ramkinkar and Binodini did not marry? Was it just their class disparities? In my view, this play absolves both the protagonists of their crimes or weaknesses. Ramkinkar was destined to be free and alone. Binodini wanted to belong. Both bemused each other and when it was time politely bowed to each other and left the scene. That’s why Ramkinkar when prodded more than once had emphatically said that he was in love but never had a ‘physical relationship’ with Binodini. He was clouds and she was earth and their communication was divine. Perhaps, seen within the traditional narratives, Binodini entered her nuptial chamber as a virgin.
I exhort all artists to love. I want all artists to fall in love irrespective of their age, class and status. I want all the artists to muse each other irrespective of their gender. I ask all artists to pitch their works in love than in their ATM balance. Ramkinkar and Binodini showed us how love could be really inspiring and could provoke lore and myths. It is not necessary to marry for marriage is an institution destined to rot. Love, dear artists love.



The Animal artworks 
( A water colour on display at The Animal show)

Apparao Galleries, Chennai presents its group show with art works from the show ‘Temporary Custodians II’. The show titled, ‘The Animal’ displays works in various mediums, from water colours on paper to oils and acrylics on canvas, pencil, inks and charcoal on paper. The works relate to the relationship between humankind and animals and their influences on each other.

The works of the artists Amit Ambalal, H.G. Arun Kumar, Avishek Sen, Aziz, Baiju Parthan Bhaskar, Chinmoy Pranmanick, Dharmanarayanan Das Gupta, M. F Husain, Jaganath Panda, Jamini Roy, Jatin Das, Jayshree Burman, Jogen Chowdhury, Karthik Pyne, Krishen Khanna, Laxma Goud, Mahamad Raj Muralidharan, Paritosh Sen, A. Ramachandran, Ratnakar Ojha, Reddappa Naidu, DLN Reddy, Sakti Burman, B O Shailesh Shruti Nelson, FN Souza, Sunil Das and Surendran Nair are on show.

The show is on view till the 31st of August 2013.

Monsoon Madras Musings 
( A painting on display at Madras Musings show)
Gallery Veda, Chennai, presents a unique group show of artists works, titled, ‘Madras  Musings’. The show displays works rendered in various mediums giving a variety of flavours to the exhibits. The monsoon has successfully inspired the works of the artists, which is evident in the works drenched in creativity.

The show displays works of artists, Vijay Pichumani, Anamika, Narayanan, Kumaresan, Sunil and more. The artists are upcoming and emerging talents of today and have shown great promise for the future in this show with their diversity of works.

The show is on view till the 17th July 2013.

Soulful Sufi inspired art
( A painting at the Soulful Sufi show)
The Kingdom of Dreams gallery, Gurgaon presents a solo show of art works by artists Sunayana Malhotra. The show tilted,’Soulful Sufi’ , display the artist’s engagement with Sufi qawalis and the joy they inspire in her.

Capturing the soulful renditions on to canvas, in abstracts-figurative styles, she has brought forth her recent works which depict a communion with the higher force. Sunayana  tries to imbibe the purity of the Sufi in her works, rendered in oil and acrylic on canvas.

Sunayana is known to work with interior designers in enhancing their home and corporate projects with her art.

The show is on view till the 4th of August 2013.

The Spandan Show

(A painting displayed at the Spandan show)
The Visual Art Gallery of India Habitat Centre, New Delhi presents a group show of well known contemporary artists of the country today along with the emerging artists. The show is titled,’Spandan’. Rajan Arora and Rajat Arora are the curators of the show and the co-curator is Kuldeep Kumar.

The show displays a collection of works by the below mentioned artists in various mediums,  paintings and sculptures. The works are figurative, abstracts in style with a variety of perspectives and themes.

The participating artists are, Alka Raghuvanshi, Shridhar Iyer, Niren Sen Gupta, Prince Chand, Roop Chand, H C Ahuja, Manish Gawade, Sanjay Soni, Darshan, Radhey Shyam, Kuldeep and N. Young

The show previewed on the 12th of July and will be on view for the public till the 16th of july 2013.

(News reports by Sushma Sabnis)

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