The Unreliable Book of Art History – Chapter 1: Defining Art History and Answering the Question of Time.

As promised a few posts earlier, I’m here with my first post on History of Art.

I believe I must begin by disclaiming all that I’ll be writing in these history posts.

DISCLAIMER

These posts aren’t meant to be educational – they merely present the view of an artist. In fact, a specific artist, that’s yours truly. This is why I request you to consider these posts as a work of fiction inspired by historical facts. I am not sure if I can keep the historical facts correct to the t, and I take no responsibility if you fail an exam because you thought you could use my posts to study.

Remember that I am not an art historian, an art critic, or even an art teacher. I am an artist – and in this book (if it becomes one,) I’ll be presenting the history of art, as an artist.

With that out of our way, let me begin by cobbling together a workable definition of Art History.

First, let us define Art and History separately.

1. ART:

Let us begin by understanding Art.

Art is a creative visual expression that is aesthetically or emotionally appealing.

This definition is quite clear if we understand the essence of the term creative.

CREATIVE:

The term Creative means original and/or imaginative.

So now can rewrite the definition of ART as:

Art is an original/imaginative visual expression that is aesthetically or emotionally appealing.

Let us now review the term History.

2. HISTORY:

History is defined as the study of the past events.

Now putting together a workable definition of ART HISTORY is quite easy.

1 + 2 = ART + HISTORY:

Thus,

Art History is the study of the past of aesthetically or emotionally appealing visual expression that is original or imaginative.

Now equipped with this definition, we can figure out art in our own imaginative way. Instead of focusing on the years (and the complex methodology of presenting those years) and the details of the objects and paintings found (the dimensions, the provenance, and so on…) we will quietly try to slip into the skin of the artist and feel the creation of that art work.

But before we begin, we must get some terminology right.

Tackling the Question of Time:

Let us say, you encounter “c. 35 ka” in my posts. Now what could that mean?

Note: If you are shaking your head with confusion write large upon your face, you aren’t alone.

Here’s what this cryptic term means:

“c.” is circa (used for “approximately” – often it’s difficult to be exact for the time before humans had invented the calendar and before being historian wasn’t in vogue.)

And

“ka” is kilo-annum or a thousand years,

so “c. 35 ka” would translate to “approximately 35 thousand years ago.”

Super!

Another Note: c. 5 ka back, in Ancient Egypt, “ka” meant the soul.

Once in a while, you’ll also encounter the term BP, which means “Before Present.” However, the present in this case isn’t right now, but 1950. We’ll stick to ka because when you are dealing with circa in thousands, a few tens of years here and there don’t matter.

The Clown with Broken Spine – A Pen and Ink Drawing.

While the Corona virus has almost half the world under house-arrest, after being held captive by my own feelings, my imagination finally grew wings and I’ve been freed from an oath I swear long ago. Under lock-down, inside the house, in my little art-studio, I’m re-discovering the fine art of standing with my spine straight.

I did this drawing of the clown in March…I think right after the lockdown. I hadn’t watched the movie “The Joker” until then, but when I did, I noticed that in the movie, Joaquin Phoenix too has a rather twisted spine.  I’ll be sketching/drawing him one day…but he is very different from this guy here – who is more me than him.

If you are still interested in reading, note the expression behind the facial paint, the unnatural and broken line of the spine, the twisted hands and ankles – the guy is completely bent out of shape. We would be like that too, if we were suddenly sucked up in a twister and thrown miles away – we’d be a mangled heap of flesh and bones – and if we could somehow put ourselves together again – we’d be all bent out of shape too…like the Joker here.

The Joker or the Clown - Pen and Ink Drawing - of a broken clown

Smile, sing, dance – but don’t break hearts.

More…soon.

Caricature/Cartoon of Ajit Ninan – The Great Indian Cartoonist.

——————–Reposting from 2011———————-

(The Original Post with its Comments can be read here.)

Presenting Ajit Ninan, the Indian Cartoonist who breaks all established standards of quality in cartooning.

Caricature, Cartoon, Portrait, Sketch, or Drawing of Ajit Ninan, the Great Indian Cartoonist (Times of India.)

I foraged the web to ferret out some information on Ajit Ninan, but returned empty-handed. I don’t know when he celebrates his birthday, I don’t really know a lot about his early life, and except for a few details, I know nothing about his professional life.

So what does the Caricaturist do when faced with a blank page?

She closes her eyes and lets her thoughts travel into the past, where she sees a young boy with a dimpled smile, who would become the Ajit Ninan whose drawings tell her that there are people who refuse to kill their skill – come what may.

Here’s the story of this little boy, who became one of the two Indian Cartoonists who’ve made me experience both pride and joy in equal measures.

The Caricaturist concocts a story:

Leave the Roses and Embrace the Thorns

He loved the afternoons. Hyderabadi afternoons were scathingly hot during this time of the year but the heat didn’t deter him from enjoying them. He’d walk back from school with his friends, feeling under the hot glare of the Sun on his brow, his arms, and his spindly legs only half covered by the shorts of his school uniform; but he always looked forward to the afternoons. They were his to do whatever his heart desired. Deep inside he felt that whatever he might end up doing all his life – these afternoons would remain etched in his memories forever.

This was one of those unforgettable afternoons. Ajit had returned from school, and after a quick snack of Idiyappam that his mother had made for him, he was now lying on his stomach, with his feet up in the air – letting the coolness of the marble floor seep into his body. His sketchbook lay open in front of him and propped upon his left elbow, he drew in it feverishly. He had wanted to finish the drawing of that toy car before his father arrived home from work. He looked over his shoulder to check the clock in the living room. It was past four already!

He returned to his drawing, and then drew away to look at the whole picture. What should he do with wheel? Should it be a little bigger? Would it look funnier if he made it bigger…a lot bigger than the other one?

Thoughts swirled about in his mind, blocking everything else…reducing the sounds around him to an unrecognizable medley – the slight hum of his mother’s voice in the kitchen, the distant din of the vendors in the street, even the creaking sound of the door opening…

So when he heard his name being called in his father’s loud but stern voice, Ajit almost jumped out of his skin. The drawing pencil shot out of his hand and landed under his table that was set near the window, and his sketchbook lay open on the floor – the proof of his being a wayward son.

“What are you doing?”
“Nothing, Father.”
“Doesn’t look like nothing to me,” his father took a step forward. Ajit shrunk away. He wished he had listened to his intuition, but then his father never came home early. What was different today? And then it clicked. His parents had to attend a wedding today! While Ajit’s revved-up mind was busy figuring out all this, his father had picked up the sketchbook.

Ajit held the edge of the table to steady himself. This was going to be one of those days.

“You made all these?” His father asked.
Isn’t it obvious? It’s my sketchbook, isn’t it? Ajit thought.
“Yes, Father,” he said.
“You think that these scribblings would get you a job?”
“…
“You think that I am spending on your education, so that you could become a painter?”
“…
“How many marks did you get in Math last year?”
“…
“How many? I am asking you a question. Answer it.”
“45,” quaked Ajit.
“45. 45 out of 100! How you’ll ever make it into Engineering is beyond me.”

“Tell me. How will you ever become an engineer, if you go on neglecting Math for these…these…” his father struggled to find the right word.
“Drawings?” Ajit couldn’t stop himself from supplying the word, but regretting it immediately after.
“Drawings. Yes. You are good at making these – and this skill will help you a lot when you study engineering. These tractors, these jeeps, these pumps…” he continued as he flipped through Ajit’s sketchbook, while Ajit waited for the tirade to end.

It ended, as always, when his mother intervened. Oh, how he loved her. She was the only one in the whole family, who truly supported his love for drawing – but even she fretted about his future. If only he could prove them wrong.

Later that evening, as Ajit sat at his table near the window, absently trying to resolve those improper fractions into proper fractions, random pieces of conversation floated in from his parents’ bedroom.

“He takes after you…all these feminine habits.”
“He takes after both of us.”
“I never got 45 in Math.”
“But he’s as stubborn as you are.”
“I am telling you…he’s got this stupid thing for drawing! I am telling you, I don’t want him writing letters to the black sheep of our family.”
“I don’t think he writes to him.”
“I don’t know. Who knows anything about what that boy does? You have to ask him.”

Ajit turned his attention to his notebook. Those fractions kept changing into cartoon characters. Why? Didn’t 2 look almost like a serpent and the number 8…he found himself doodling two meshing gears into the 8! The “black sheep” of the family. That had to be his uncle Abu Abraham. He worked for this American Publication called the Guardian, but he was shortly returning to India. Abu’s atheism and the way he thumbed his nose at traditions had ensured his symbolic ouster from the family.

His whole body tensed up in anticipation as he waited for them to leave. Ajit’s parents were going out for a Punjabi wedding, which meant that they’d not return until late in night. He could now look forward to many hours of unadulterated drawing pleasure.

Ajit Ninan’s Nonexistent Biography

I couldn’t find his biography, so I tried to glean whatever information I could from a variety of sources, especially from this post by Abhijit Bhaduri.

Here’s the sum total of my learning.

Ajit Ninan was born in Hyderabad in 1955. His parents were from Kerala though. Ajit studied at Hyderabad Public School where he manipulated his way into the library, so that he could go through the Cartoons in magazines. When he was young, he prefered to draw mechanical drawings, which I presume, must’ve made his father believe that his son wanted to become and engineer when he grew up. Fortunately Ninan wasn’t good at Math (I say fortunately, because had he been good at it, he’d have ended up becoming an engineer; which would mean that India would’ve lost one of its few great cartoonists,)so he studied political science, and became a political cartoonist.

Ninan published in first cartoon in Shankar’s Weekly, a magazine that his equally illustrious uncle Abu Abraham also drew for.

Ninan’s Inspirations include Mario Miranda, James Thurber, and Arnold Roth (he used to spend his precious out-of-class-in-the-library hours poring over the drawings of JT and AR.) Ajit Ninan worked with India Today as a Cartoonist and an Illustrator. He then moved to The Indian Express. He currently works with The Times of India as their Group Art Consultant.

Here are some interesting links for you to follow.

What this caricaturist has in common with the Great Ninan?

Believe it or not, I have the exact same lamp on my table that Ninan has on his. I had bought it 15 years ago. I wanted to buy another of the same kind, but failed 😦

Caricature: Johnny Depp as Tonto – Pen and Ink Drawing – Lock down Creativity.

At the outset, I’ve not watched The Lone Ranger and it’s not for want of trying. Honestly, it’s a tough movie to watch, so it doesn’t surprise me that it won the Golden Raspberry  Worst Prequel, Remake, Rip-off or Sequel award and Johnny Depp was nominated for the worst actor award too.

I’ll begin with my expression of Tonto 🙂 (click the image for a bigger view.)

Tonto of the Lone Ranger - Caricature in Pen and Ink of Johnny Depp's character.

Pen and Ink Rendering of Tonto – Caricature Drawing – 9″x12″ Strathmore Acid Free Paper.

So who’s this Tonto?

In the movie The Lone Ranger, Tonto is the Lone Ranger’s companion and the story’s narrator. If you are interested in western movies and haven’t watched The Lone Ranger, which was a box-office flop, you can read the plot here.

Dead Birds as head-dresses have been around

Dead Birds as Head-dresses have been there in tribes around the world. In a tribe in Kenya, certain rituals require that dead-birds are strung to the head-dresses of the young boys who’ve killed them, in some American Indian tribes, dead birds (including crows and eagles) were worn on the head – and there was a spiritual significance of it.

Tonto’s look & the “I am Crow” painting

Tonto’s look is attributed to a painting “I am Crow” by Artist Kirby Sattler.  Please visit the link to view the painting – and you’ll simply love it. Honestly, I loved Kirby Sattler’s rendering a lot more than the look of Tonto, but then the character of Tonto isn’t that of a serious mature man – it is that of a follower and a slightly funny narrator.

About the dead bird being live in my caricature:

I love them alive. I like to believe that the subject of Kirby Sattler’s “I am crow” communicated with the birds at a spiritual level – and felt them to a point where he felt that he was one of them. When I had sketched Bette Midler as Winifred “Winnie” Sanderson, she too had a live crow on her head.

caricature, cartoon, black and white sketch portrait of Bette Midler as Winnie Sanderson, the witch of Hocus Pocusx

Caption in reference to her recent tweet (May 16, 2013) about the IRS Raid on the Tea Party office.

A diversion to Game of Thrones

Incidentally, I was also reminded of Bran Stark “is” a three-eyed raven – and who can fly about by transporting his spirit into the crow. Since I wasn’t too keen on Bran Stark (mostly because his face reminded me of a real-live witch,) so I drew someone else – a  Mr. Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister – my top fav among the GoT characters. Here’s he for you.

Caricature, Cartoon, Pencil Portrait of Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage) - Game of Thrones

Knowledge and Cunning are my most lethal weapons!

Tonto and the live crow of my caricature

In my part-caricature of Tonto, Tonto is in disagreement with the bird. While the bird has seen more and traveled farther than Tonto, Tonto being human suffers from the I-know-best syndrome. Thus, the bird and Tonto are forever arguing.

Johnny Depp’s Jack Sparrow & Tonto obviously don’t see eye-to-eye.

Why?

Here’s the answer. Don’t you think Jack Sparrow looks rather peachy when compared to Tonto?

Caricature, Cartoon, Color-portrait of Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow (with his two mice) in Pirates of the Caribbean.

Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow – Actual Print Size of the Image: 12 inches x 12 inches at 300 dpi.

I hope you liked my rendering of Tonto and enjoyed this post.
More later 🙂

Lock down, Art, Writing, and Stuff.

It’s about a month and half since we’ve been in lock down and the only saving grace, the only way to connect with the world, for me has been the Internet. Since we had moved the house just a few days before the lock down, there’s still no TV, and of course, there’s been no going out either.

I’ve been focusing, losing focus, refocusing – and attempting to stay as productive as I can, which means I’ve been writing, drawing, and painting.

I’ll be sharing my caricatures, portraits, and other drawings here. I intend to do a series of pen and ink portraits on nose-rings (check the first one in the series here.) Other than that I’ll be making some Art History posts that I might later collate into a small book. I believe that though there are a lot of books on Art History, none of them are written by artists. An artist’s viewpoint differs from a critic’s or an academician’s in that an artist would try to get under the skin of an artist of the past and try to see a painting from his/her perspective. You’ll know what i mean after I’ve written the first few posts 🙂

Right now, leaving you with an artist who lives in my heart.

A caricature, cartoon, sketch, portrait of the great artist leonardo da vinci who was also a sculptor, an inventor, and a writer.

Monalisa’s Creator – Leonardo da Vinci.

Until soon then!

And until then…Draw to Smile!

Tribal Pen and Ink Portraits: A Dhaneta Jat Woman.

Just finished this portrait of a Dhaneta Jat Woman. Dhaneta Jat is a Gujarati Tribe of Sunni Muslims, that is known to have arrived in India from Iran. When the women of the tribe get married they start wearing a gold nose-ring that is quite heavy and must be supported by black threads that are attached to their hair.

Dhaneta Jat Woman wearing traditional dress and nose ring - a pen and ink tribal portrait.

Dhaneta Woman Portrait – Size 9″x12″ Approximately – Strathmore Acid Free Paper

Read more about Dhaneta Jats here.

 

When The COVID 19 Lockdown Ends and Life Returns to Normal…

When Life Returns to Normal,

This morning, I read an article on life returning to normal in Wuhan. Nothing in those pictures appear normal to me and if this is going to be the new normal, I believe that we as the human race would change forever.

There shall be New Don’ts,

Don’t talk (how will people fall in love? On chats and texts?) don’t move in groups (how would Indians get married?) don’t talk while eating (romantic dinners, business dinners, Christmas dinners – how will we celebrate?)

And New Dos,

The list of don’ts is long but list of dos is longer. Take temperature – go green, orange, red. Get the app – go green, orange, red. Wash your hands. Worry yourself sick and then when you get a fever, go green, orange, red.

And we will Change Fundamentally,

Honestly, we are going to change in a very fundamental way. For instance, inviting people into our houses may remain an anathema for a long time to come. Don’t come – let us talk on Skype of Facetime. We’ll save money and time both. Super!

We will become a Collection of new Attributes

We can’t go out, so we’ll go in, as The Times of India’s Speaking Tree feature so kindly pointed out today. We will become more spiritual (I am not sure if I understand that term,) more “ikulkhure” (a term that my Mom used to use, which broadly means: in love with ourselves and abhor the company of others,) more virtually savvy (check out my return to blogging and fbing,) more unsocial – and all this, brace yourselves, will make us more like Generation Z Isn’t that awesome? We would be the new Benjamin Buttons of the world.

And find a New Tangent of Normalcy!

So you see, when life returns to normal…we’d have forgotten our previous normal and we’d be flying off a new tangent of normalcy.

Amen!

 

COVID-19 Lock down and The Claws of Hunger – The Migrant.

Pressure-cooked in the corona lock down, feelings made tender, absorbed the news that trickled in and simmered in its aftermath. The effect of the lock down on us, who could stay in the comfort of their homes, was different from that on the ones who couldn’t and found themselves on the roads. For many of the migrant workers of India, COVID-19 became a destroyer of hopes and dreams, and for some it also brought along the fear of starvation. The trickles of their pain froze in our isolated minds and turned into icicles that pierced through our hearts.

The Migrant worker during the COVID 19 Coronavirus lockdown in India - pen and ink drawing and verse.

Drawing Details: Pen and Ink Art on  23.5″ x 16.5″ Derwent 300 gsm sheet – Artist: Shafali Anand

About the Great Indian Migration of 2020

On March 24th, 2020, India effected a nation-wide lockdown to control the spread of COVID 19 or the Novel Corona Virus. The lockdown stopped all travel (air/train/buses/autos) and required that people stay inside their houses. According to some estimates, India has about 140 Million migrant workers who travel outside their home-states and work in different industries including construction, garments, hospitality (mostly the unorganized sector – in dhabas and small restaurants,) and others. When India came to a halt on March 25th, these migrant workers faced the biggest dilemma of their lives – whether to stay or to return to their homes. Millions took to the roads and traveled hundreds if not thousands of kilometers. Some were asked to go back, some found ways to continue on their journey, others were stopped at the state-borders and given shelters. Men and women who had left their homes to earn and feed their families found themselves accepting giveaways – their self-esteem left in shreds – so when one man with dried tears in his eyes said, “I hope COVID gets me, because if it doesn’t, starvation surely will,” he spoke for the lockdown-hit Indian migrant worker.

Two days ago (on April 28th, 2020,) the Government promised to bring the migrants back to their home states. It’s not going to be an easy task. It would require the states to work together, but when it’s done, it would be remembered as an act of kindness by the affected migrant workers and also by those whose hearts bleed for them.

Where are they?

The caricaturist, the writer, and the artist?

  • I haven’t seen the caricaturist for a while. The boat she was on, capsized. She clung to the sides while the waves lashed out on the boat and flung her aside. Last I saw her, she was bobbing up and down on the violent seas…a ghost, a speck, a point…and then nothing.
  • I have been meeting the writer off and on. The humorist, she told me, is dead – the romanticist thrown in a dark dungeon of her own mind, only the realist continues to grapple with the truth, writing stories that don’t end.
  • The artist is alive – feeding her emotions, stoking her expressions, painting her canvasses – loading them with truth.

When and if the roles will ever change again, I haven’t a clue.

But if the past is any indication – the caricaturist doesn’t die, the writer keeps transforming, and the artist usually is the glue that keeps the three together.

Until December then…

The $450M Salvator Mundi was not painted by Leonardo da Vinci.

When I read in news that after two years of having been sold for $450M, the Salvator Mundi painting had resurfaced on a Saudi Prince’s Yatch, I scrambled to read all about it. I remember having read about the Christie’s Auction of the painting. Obviously! I remember thinking, a Da Vinci sells for almost half-a-billion – so what? 

But this new piece of information made me look at the images of the painting – over-painted, paint-peeled, repainted (restored) and shook my head in disbelief, because I can’t and won’t accept that it was painted by Leonardo da Vinci – he may have guided the hand that painted it, but he didn’t paint it himself – and I couldn’t be convinced otherwise. And why not? For a number of reasons, but let me start at the beginning…with the artist and not the art.

(For your viewing, here’s the restored version of the painting “Salavator Mundi” that was attributed to Leonardo da Vinci and subsequently sold for $450M.  by Christie’s  to Saudi prince, Badr bin Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Farhan al-Saud reportedly acting on behalf of the Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman.)

Salvator Mundi - not-by-Leonardo-da-Vinci-Restored.

Leonardo da Vinci was left-handed (painted and wrote in reverse using his left hand, and wrote normally with his right,) exceptionally well-versed with anatomy (he’d exhume bodies to sketch them,) drew and painted in smooth curves, and was a man in a hurry for he was not only an artist but also an inventor who had a wide variety of interests.

Quoting from Wikipedia…Leonardo da Vinci was

an Italian polymath of the Renaissance whose areas of interest included invention, drawing, painting, sculpting, architecture, science, music, mathematics, engineering, literature, anatomy, geology, astronomy, botany, writing, history, and cartography. He has been variously called the father of palaeontology, ichnology,[4] and architecture, and he is widely considered one of the greatest painters of all time.

Also,

He conceptualised flying machines, a type of armoured fighting vehicle, concentrated solar power, an adding machine,[12] and the double hull.

All of this needed time – and to make time for painting, he needed to be really good and quick at it.

As an artist who has spent hours poring over Da Vinci’s works, here are my observations on Salvator Mundi and my complete refusal in attributing it to Leonardo da Vinci.

  1. The hair at the left of the face (at the right hand of the viewer) is painstakingly painted in tight-ringlets – the careless confidence in one’s skill makes an artist paint only the darks and light/brights – something that we see at the right side of the face (your left as you look at the picture,) – is missing from the stylized treatment of the hair that we witness at the left side of the face. Such details are the hallmark of a learner. Vinci always painted hair more naturally (In this painting, the hair at the right of the face could have been done by him to demonstrate the hair painting technique to his student who actually painted this portrait.)
  2. Note the bridge of the nose and review how the brow at the right of the face doesn’t vertically align with the inner corner of the eye (the way the left brow does with the left eye.) The upper lid of the right eye is painted straight while for the left eye, it is painted in a curve. The size of and the light reflected in the eyeballs don’t match. An artist of Vinci’s caliber could get the features right, even if the face of the model had these issues. All he needed was a few brush-strokes. Only a less experienced artist would let an imperfect face become the face of Christ. In all his other paintings, you see perfect faces – then why would he find an imperfect face to paint his Salvator Mundi?
  3. Note again, the details (brown and gold) upon the robe (scroll down to the pre-restoration after-cleaning original image below). Leonardo was a man in a hurry. He had too many talents and too little time. In my most improbable dreams, I couldn’t see Leonardo da Vinci hunched over the robe, painting those crisscrossing golden straight-lines on it. He painted fast (perhaps speed was the reason why he invented the Sfumato technique in which he mixed the shades of a color seamlessly by using the heel of his hand,) and he created such impressions of embroidery/silk by using quick brush-strokes. Check the following image to see how Leonardo worked with fabric, and also to see how he loved his contrast.La Belle Ferroniere
  4. Da Vinci’s paintings had higher contrast of colors (example: The portrait of La Belle Ferroniere above.) This particular Salvator Mundi painting has a very low contrast on the face. The lips appear to have been done by Da Vinci but the rest of the face isn’t painted with any degree of confidence. In the unrestored version (please see it below,) the eye-balls have either been painted over or not placed right, making the bearer of the eyes appear slightly cockeyed. None of the sketches or drawings indicate to me that Vinci was not confident of drawing/painting eyes.(Here’s the cleaned version (unrestored version) of the painting:)Salvator Mundi - cleaned and broken - but original before restoration. Leonardo da Vinci.
  5. The orb (the crystal ball) isn’t refractive (doesn’t distort the background seen through it,) a detail that Vinci wouldn’t miss. It also doesn’t reflect the light that’s lighting up Christ’s face and also the finger-tips of the hand that’s holding the orb. The fact that the fingers that hold the orb should receive the highlight but not the orb itself, surprises me. I don’t believe Vinci would skimp on a couple of brush-strokes that would make the orb look spherical and glassy. His need to get the proportions right got him to invent the grid; his urge to get the anatomy right sent him to graveyards – he was passionate about get such details right.
  6. The left shoulder of Christ juts out horizontally then drops sharply. Not one of Vinci’s other paintings or drawings uses this treatment for shoulders. He always rounded the shoulders off. The gathers on the robe, especially at the bottom aren’t defined clearly at all – in fact, they bear the mark of a learner’s brush. Check out Mona Lisa’s robe for reference. I do think that the gathers at the chest were touched by Vinci.
    Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci

A Few Words about the Restoration:

I have no idea who did the restoration of this painting, but it was poorly restored. (Refer to the cleaned un-restored and the restored paintings.)

  • In the restored painting, the border of the robe is only half-constructed at the bottom, while the after-cleaning painting (above) shows the entire border (though somewhat hidden in the shadows.)
  • The restored painting fills in a solid deep blue in the two bottom triangular areas of the robe.
  • The thumb of the blessing hand is skewed to show the nail, which is anatomically incorrect. The restorer could be given the benefit of doubt, if any of the two thumbs (I see two thumbs in the cleaned image, and as an artist, I think the original artist may have painted over the first (vertical one) to let the thumb appear more relaxed.

If this were indeed a work of the Great Vinci, its restoration must’ve been done in a manner that its spirit stayed alive – I have a feeling that the restorer worked on it with the belief that it was a work of a lesser artist and so decided to cut some slack.

View the twenty known works that are/may be by Leonardo da Vinci, here.

Conclusion: The $450M Salvator Mundi was not done by Leonardo Da Vinci.

I believe that it was done someone he knew and guided (another artist who worked in his workshop and learned under Vinci’s tutelage,)  as I can see his technique and his corrective strokes.As an artist, I’d say that most of the work was done by another talented artist who was still learning, and Vinci oversaw his work.

Thanks.

And before I leave,

my 2010 tribute to the Great Master.

A caricature, cartoon, sketch, portrait of the great artist leonardo da vinci who was also a sculptor, an inventor, and a writer.

Monalisa’s Creator – Leonardo da Vinci!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“MPs ki Loot” Game Features in The Times of India of today (April 14th, 2019, Sunday.)

Folks,

I’m thrilled!

MPs ki Loot” our fun Android game on Indian Politics and Elections was picked up by The Times of India and featured prominently in “Games to Play this Poll Season.” (Page 20.)

Here’s a snapshot by my old-and-turning-ancient phone.

MPs

India ko chahiye solid sarkaar; tum phi download karo yaar!

So…what do you think of the caricatures? (Hint…hint.)

“MPs ki Loot – Net the Netas” – A Desi Game of Political Dharpakad on Google Play.

I had been busy.
Why?
Kyunki…
Elections ke chalte, Partiyon mein pad gayi hai Phoot; Mach gayi hai MPs ki Loot!

Download this fun and dil-se-hindustani game “MPs ki Loot”  on Google Play.

We have developed this game on the occasion of the Indian Elections and it was launched early this morning.
MPs ki Loot - Net the Netas - an Innoken Game on Desi Indian Politics - fun with Indian dialogs
In this game of Indian politics, take control of India’s destiny, and be the King-Maker!

Make the government of your choice by “netting” 273 or more  MPs for your party. The opposition is ready to lapko any MPs that you miss.

Your job is simple – throw nets and pakdo as many MPs as you can and bring them into your party, because a strong government is desh-hit ki sarkar.

In this game of political dhar-pakad, blast away gangs of Jaal-Chors, win the influential Taujis over, amass wealth, get super net-spells and feel power ka nasha…and while you are busy doing all this political hera-pheri, snack away on chai, samosa, and laddoo. Enjoy it all in Indian hawa-pani with desi jubani.

MPs ki Loot has a simple but catchy gameplay peppered with sound-effects and dialogs that are truly desi. As you net your netas so that they join your party, you live and feel India.

Please tap here and download the game to enjoy it this election season.

MPs ki Loot - Net the Netas - an Innoken Game on Desi Indian Politics - fun with Indian dialogs

—MPs ki Loot – Net the Netas—

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Folks, I implore you to visit the game link and download the game. If you enjoy it, do leave a review/rating on the game’s page.
Thanks,
Shafali

Edvard Munch and The Attraction of Doom.

Edvard Munch‘s works have begun to mesmerize me. I can’t imagine how a man could exist in such darkness all his life. I’ve experienced darkness – at least twice in my life, and yet during these cold dark-spells, I’ve found some warmth from random flames flickering and glowing in my heart. Through these spells my loneliness had been complete like Munch’s, but for me these spells had a finite beginning and a finite end. Munch’s loneliness resulting from his early losses of his mom and sister, the demons of his father’s illness, the apparition that influenced him through his life – Hans Jæger, and his ferocious need to spill his anguish upon the canvas – they have come together to produce such nerve-jangling works of art that the viewer cannot help but feel the anxiety seep out of the paintings into your mind and soul.

I find myself wishing for the violence of Munch’s brush, the vein that fed the colors of his fevered imagination into his paintings – I know that for me, the pain will dull and eventually pass; I also know that I don’t exist in complete darkness like he did, and that for me this is temporal even temporary – I realize that I cannot stop seeing beauty and love and ambition and success in sudden flashes – these flashes pick me up and ready me for another go at life – unlike Munch.

Perhaps this is why Munch captures my imagination so completely. Despite his dark colors, the opposites of mine; I look at his works and wonder about the man and the artist. The artist, I understand. The need to express what he felt, that I understand. But the man – I don’t. And then I also ask myself the question whether I want to.

“From my rotting body,
flowers shall grow
and I am in them
and that is eternity.”
-Edvard Munch

The Picture of Oscar Wilde – Caricature, Portrait, Reflection?

A few hours ago I finished reading “The Picture of Dorian Gray,” the second time. When I had read it the first time, I was too young to understand the complexities the lie under the surface of the story.

In the preface of the book, Oscar Wilde says:

The nineteenth century dislike of realism is the rage of Caliban seeing his own face in a glass. The nineteenth century dislike of romanticism is the rage of Caliban not seeing his own face in a glass.

Reading “The Picture of Dorian Gray,” after having read about Oscar Wilde’s own life, made me reflect on the character of Dorian Gray representing Oscar Wilde’s lover Lord Alfred Douglas in form and personality, but in his need to experiment and “feel” life, he appears closer to Oscar Wilde himself.

Despite my current pre-occupation with a deeper and more profound expression of art, I found myself caricaturing Oscar Wilde as a reflection of himself. I think that “The Picture of Dorian Gray,” lies on the cusp between realism and romanticism – and presents Wilde’s internal conflict not only about his sexual identity (for which he was arrested) but also about his leanings toward aestheticism.

Thus, I see Oscar Wilde as Dorian Gray, the Caliban who doesn’t want to see realism (his own aging portrait,) and who is tired of romanticism (the ideal forever young face that he has – because he knows that it’s unreal and not his own.)

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I present to you the picture and reflection of Oscar Wilde in the half-truth of Dorian Gray.

Caricature Portrait Reflection Picture of Oscar Wilde Dorian Gray Alfred Douglas and Caliban.

No Artist is Ever Morbid.

In the preface of “The Picture of Dorian Gray,” Oscar Wilde says,

No artist is ever morbid. The artist can express everything.

I’ve been drawing for decades. My earliest memories of drawing are from Kashmir. I was five. We lived in Ramban on the bank of river Chenab. In mornings, my mother would give me a bath, comb my hair, hand me a slate and sit me out in the porch so that I could get some sun. I could see the violently white waters of Chenab beating against the rocks that glistened as they reflected the morning light behind the green front yard that stretched between me and the river. I’m sure if the house was any closer to Chenab than it was, my mother wouldn’t leave me on the porch alone.

I would sit on the steps, wait for my Mom to bring me my breakfast (a fried egg and a glass of milk,) and draw. I wasn’t supposed to draw though. I was supposed to “write,” but I drew everything. The alphabet, the numbers, the steps, the flower, even the egg. (My mom used to tell me that when she asked me what it was, I told her that it was an “O” inside another “O.”)

So that’s where my artistic journey began – in a land that’s today torn by politics, terrorism, and separatism. The land that in my hazy memories is still the most beautiful place that I’ve ever lived in.

But I began this post with an Oscar Wilde quote, and I shouldn’t stray too far from what I intended saying.

I’ve been painting. Not caricatures, nor portraits – but I’ve been painting my consciousness. I don’t classify my art, mostly because I can’t. How do you classify a vision, a half-dream, a sub-conscious feeling so strong that it takes me by my spine and shakes me up…?

I don’t know if an artist can express everything – but as an artist, I attempt to capture those fleeting moments that scream with emotions. The violence of these moments, like the violence of Chenab, froths white and blue and red – and to express it, I need not just lines but colors – and so I sketch fast…the madness of those first sketches is so complete that the painting competes with the sketches to express it all… if it does it at all.

The galleries have long waitlists and it would be at least an year before my paintings are exhibited – until them, I remain their captive creator… until then, I also remain your absentee blogger, whose mind and heart never see eye to eye – but then whose does?

 

Gaga’s Oscar makes me Travel back in Time.

Lady Gaga won an Oscar for “Shallow” from “A Star is Born,” a romantic music-drama. As a visual person, I react more to what I see than to what I hear, and so…

You can read the original Gaga Post here.

A cartoon caricature drawing of Lady Gaga with her weird hairstyle bad romance?

Lady Gaga and the Spider Colony!

The Little Owl Roosts on the Caricaturist’s Blog.

A sketch in my diary that owes its existence to a photograph by ToutParMoi. Why this particular owl visited this particular writer, is something that confuses me. She’s a cat lady and I am sure the cats don’t let the mice play – so if there aren’t any mice around, what brought this owl to her house? Imminent good luck, I suppose, because sighting an owl is supposed to bring luck.

Owl - beautiful birds - the wise birds - pen and ink - ball point pen sketch.

About Owls:
I love owls. I have a feeling they don’t give a damn. Look at them. Does it look like they care whether or not a caricaturist thinks that they are absolutely stunning?

Owl Symbolism:
Mythologically, Owl relates to femininity and wisdom. In Greek mythology, it appears as the companion of Athena, the Goddess of Wisdom; in Roman, as the companion of Minerva. In Hindu mythology, it appears as Laxmi’s vehicle, thus, becoming the harbinger of wealth and luck.

Do visit the enchanting blog and medieval world of Denise Keay’s erudite cats.

Caricature-Cartoon – Donald Trump, US-Mexico Wall, and Nancy Pelosi.

Presenting the caricature/cartoon of President Donald Trump, the Speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi, and the said wall.

Caricature Cartoon of Donald Trump with the Wall - Nancy Pelosi confused watches the wall being made.

Trump’s Wall

Never has a wall generated so much interest and speculation before, except perhaps the Berlin Wall – but the hullabaloo around the Berlin Wall was about bringing the wall down while in this case, it’s about raising it.

But this post isn’t about Trump’s wall. It’s about Donald Trump, who is perhaps the most spoofed President ever. He’s also the most adamant, most mis-political (for want of a better word,) most impulsive, most irksome President too.

Trump’s Hurdles

He wanted a wall between Mexico and the United States, and he was clear on it from the very beginning. I remember the debates, and I remember that he always wanted the wall. Then the election results came out and he won. it was obvious that he’d want to build the wall. Unfortunately for him, the wall wasn’t going to be handed to him on a platter. The United States, is now a beast different from the one that it was when Trump was growing up.

According to this Wikipedia page – “As of July 2016, Mexican Americans made up 11.2% of the United States’ population, as 36.3 million U.S. residents identified as being of full or partial Mexican ancestry.”

Add to these those who are married to/are friends with Mexican Americans, and you have a huge bunch of non-Mexican Americans who can be called sympathizers. If Trump thought that he could nail the immigration problem shut by getting the Congress to nod like a trained pup – he was in for a surprise.

Trump’s Game

And yet, Trump being Trump, wouldn’t accept their disapproval as sheepishly as they’d like him to – and so the government rationing and now the National Emergency. He has played an open hand. While Nancy Pelosi and team were extrapolating the behavior of the past Presidents and expecting Trump to back off when they waved $1.4B under his nose – he went ahead and declared a National Emergency that would allow him to mobilize military funds to construct the wall.

Trump’s Logic

Now the game is on. Sixteen states have filed a lawsuit against Trump. Pelosi says that there won’t be a wall. Trump says, there will be a wall. The country stands divided. I can’t imagine why there shouldn’t be a wall. I understand why the Mexicans, American-Mexicans, American-Mexican-Pros won’t want a wall; but I can’t understand why the government wouldn’t want to protect its borders? I understand sympathy and empathy, but then there are hundreds and thousands of others who “need” to be in the US, more than the illegal Mexicans.

So Why?

I read the stories of battered wives and mothers who want their children to have better lives – but they don’t exist only in Mexico – they exist elsewhere too. And so do walls. The concept behind countries having borders is quite the same as that of having walls around our houses. Guests and family members and even those who we feel charitable toward – they all enter through the gate. It good to be magnanimous and philanthropic but would you feel similarly for someone who breaks into your house? The law applies to our actions, not to our intentions and reasons. But then each country has to figure out what they want to do (or not) on their own, and quite like families each country too must go through the cycle of wealth and poverty – khattu, nikhattu, udharichand, bechumal. The US is now experiencing the udharichand (borrowing against its assets) phase, if you please, and doing paropkar (philanthropy) on udhari (borrowings) isn’t a sign of wisdom.

Cartoon-Caricature: The Political Hunter

Check out the smirk on his face.

Caricature Cartoon of the Hunter - done for Talk Business and Politics Magazine

Loved drawing and painting this guy. I was archiving some old paintings that i had done for magazines in the past, and came across him.

Isn’t he awesome?

Question: Can you tell what (or who) is he hunting? (This was a two-page spread, and this guy is on the left page.)

Hello 2019!

With 2018 having turned out the way it did, “Hello 2019” appears to be a pretty optimistic greeting, so if your brows are arching up in inquiry, do desist 🙂

Anyway, the long and short of 2018 was that I ended up with a few interesting commissions and managed to submit one of my science-fiction novellas to a humongous slush-pile that has only reduced to half its original size in the last six months. This obviously means that 2019 begins with piles of undone stuff and miles that must be run before I can catch up.

Like any logical and organized mind, when faced with such challenges, my mind too powers up and starts sorting, sequencing, prioritizing, and scheduling tasks, and this blog appears in block-capitals on my to-do list. This year, on the caricaturing/cartooning front, I hope to accomplish the following two things.

  1. Make at least one post a week.
  2. Complete the cartooning book and self-publish on Amazon.

I need to do some fiction writing (a science-fiction novella awaits completion, a fantasy novella awaits its transformation into a novel…and so on,) and come up with a couple of important training programs. This should keep me occupied during 2019, and if I can accomplish it all, mark me down as a true ocean-dweller from Atlantis.

Oh, and Atlantis…reminds me of Aquaman, a movie I watched recently. I loved the imagery, the visualization, the rendering of the water-effects, the forever young Nicole Kidman with her cute little nose that refuses to get any bigger with age…

 

Caricature of Hollywood Celebrity Nicole Kidman, her nose, and two critical bloodhounds.

Looks aren’t everything…especially with the Bloodhounds!

I loved everything about it, except its flat storyline and flatter hero – whose name I can’t remember (but with Google’s help I did. He is Jason Momoa.) I know he played the role of Khal Drogo in the Game of Thrones series, but that is all that I remember of him. He fits the desert, he’d probably fit the swamps, but not the clean blue-green waters of Atlantis.

No.

Rethinking, reflecting…

Still no.

But yes, Game of Thrones reminds me of another gentleman, who I once sketched because he is one of the most interesting characters in the series –Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister. (IMHO.)

Caricature, Cartoon, Pencil Portrait of Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage) - Game of Thrones

Knowledge and Cunning are my most lethal weapons!