Monday, June 13, 2011

Endgame' returns to Malayalam stage

Special correspondent

Actors of Lokadharmi rehearse for their production of Samuel Beckett's play, 'End Game'. Photo: Special Arrangement

KOCHI: Samuel Beckett's seminal play, ‘Endgame' is all set to make a much-desired comeback to Malayalam theatre. ‘Kadassikkali', an adaptation of the play in Malayalam, will be staged jointly by Lokadharmi centre for theatre training, research and performance, and the Centre for Heritage Environment and Development (C-HED) at the Town Hall here on June 30 at 7 p.m.

The Malayalam production is directed by Jithu Johny, a post-graduate student of theatre at the Sree Sankara University of Sanskrit in Kalady. Chandradasan, Lokadharmi director and eminent theatre activist, will don the lead role in the play. Actors Asha Devi, Sudheer Babu and Sijin Sukumar will also act in the play.

The one-act play, from the stable of the theatre of the absurd, problematises life's continuity and questions the meaning of familial bonds. It presents four physically-challenged people who are mutually dependent, but caught in an endless, bitter verbal duel. As in Beckett's other plays, stasis or stagnation in life forms a major theme in ‘Endgame' as well. The actions on stage are repetitive, almost ritualistic, reiterating Beckett's ‘habit is a great deadener' philosophy.

Written in the aftermath of the World War II that ended with a terrible nuclear tragedy, ‘Endgame' portends a life — read post-nuclear life — sans surprises. Even the death of a character fails to shock anyone. From their rants on stage, it appears to the audience that the characters shared a past, but a cheerful future doesn't appear to dawn for them. Its isolated setting points to a life without a social, cultural and environmental milieu

Courtesy: The Hindu daily 13th June 2011

Friday, June 10, 2011

The Legend remains, in bold strokes…

SHOBHA MENON
The vigor of his brush strokes, the flow of colors, the ease in creating drawings, the bold lines and incredible palettes … there is only one artist, who can paint like the wind… MF Hussain!

Maqbool Fida Husain (17 September 1915 – 9 June 2011)
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Celebrated Indian artist MF Husain, who earned both fame and wrath for his paintings, died in London today after being unwell for over a month. He was 95. The artist breathed his last at the Royal Brompton Hospital at 2.30 am local time.
M.F. Husain was born in Pandharpur on September 17, 1915 to mother Zunaib and father Fida. His mother died when he was three years old. His father remarried and the family moved to Indore where he did his primary education.
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As a child, Husain learnt the art of calligraphy- practiced the Kulfic Khat with its geometric forms and loved to read poetry while he resided with his uncle in Baroda. After painting many countryside landscapes and completing his schooling in Indore, Husain decided to move to Mumbai to make his career in art. He joined the J.J. school of arts.
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In 1937, he started his career painting cinema hoardings for a livelihood. . In Husain's own words: “We were paid barely four or six annas per square foot. That is, for a 6x10 feet canvas, we earned a few rupees. And apart from the New Theatre distributor, the others did not pay us at all. As soon as I earned a little bit I used to take off for Surat, Baroda and Ahmedabad to paint landscapes”. Given this bad pay, Husain tried other jobs as well. One of the best paying was a toy factory, where he designed and built fretwork toys.
In between, Husain got married to Fazila in the year 1941 and they had two daughters and three sons.

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In 1947, Husain won an award for his paintings (Sunhera Sansaar) at the annual exhibition of the Bombay art society and this marked the beginning of a vibrant colorful career ahead waiting for this art maestro. Husain did a lot of art experimentation in his early years by blending different ethnic and mythological themes to create luminous art forms.
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His creativity, style and innovation in paintings have made him reach the pinnacle in Indian art. F.N. Souza, a member of The Progressive Artist's Group, which was formed to give new dimensions to Indian art, invited Husain to become a member of it in 1948.
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Progressive Artists Group, a group formed to explore a new idiom for Indian art, paved new pathways for Husain’s artistic career. Progressive group’s involvement exposed Husain to the works of Emil Nolde and Oskar Kokoschka and made a strong influence, which led him to make some remarkable works 'Re Between The Spider And The Lamp', 'Zameen and Man' etc. He then visited Delhi, where he encountered ancient Mathura sculpture and Indian miniature paintings. This was a turning point of his career as an artist as he assimilated ideas from Western and Indian art.
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From 1948 to 1950 a series of exhibitions all over India brought Husain's work to the notice of the public.
In 1951 Husain travelled to China. In the following year he had his first solo exhibition in Zurich, and over the next few years his work was widely seen in Europe and the USA.
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By 1955 Husain went on to become one of the foremost artists in India and was awarded the ‘Padma Shri’. In 1971, Husain was invited along with Pablo Picasso at the Sao Paulo Biennial. Apart from the several solo exhibitions, Husain has many studios in major metropolitans of the country. In 1973, he was awarded the Padma Bhushan, in 1989, the Padma Vibhushan. He was nominated to the Rajya Sabha in 1986.
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Husain has also made feature films, like "Through the Eyes of a Painter" (1967) and "Gajagamini”(Director, Art Director, Actor -2000), the former winning the Golden Bear Award at the Berlin Film Festival. In 2004, Husain directed and has also written lyrics for two songs of the film Meenaxi: Tale of 3 cities.

After a long career, in 1996, when Husain was 81 years old, controversy arose over paintings originally created in the 1970s which were interpreted as anti-Hindu. After legal cases and death threats in his home country, he was on a self imposed exile from 2006.
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Husain had an extensive portfolio from painting to film, and he mastered in both art forms to the fullest… His calligraphic skills might have made it easy to use bold, expressive, quick brush strokes that created figures that narrated the stories from Epics or the culture of people in each landscape wherever he visited. His lines were very expressive. It voiced the images, in vigorously running horses, notes of a Veena player, or the path of enlightenment to Buddha. Colors in his palette were so apposite with the audacious lines, being a symbol of hope, when he painted Mother Teresa holding the orphan baby in her lap, a new reading of Pietà from the contemporary period. Works on different religions in India shows his mastery over painting in minimalist idioms.

His skill over the medium enabled him to capture the inner essence of the religion, culture or landscape that he was transcribing to his large canvases; the transition of the subject/predicament embodied was complete, impregnated with his own interpretation, still narrating the essence of the source.
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Husain developed a unique style that combined the sensuous female form from the classical period of early India; the strong colors of the Pahadi miniatures; and Indian folk art. These elements have come to characterize Husain's signature style. Husain's line casts into motion his dynamic pictorial spaces; his brilliant colors envelop the space with symbolic and expressive values; and his distinct human forms transform the narrative on the painting surface into an intimate experience of poetry.
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Now MF Husain's works will continue to be a challenge to the conservative thoughts. Let it be an open dialogue...

Note : Shobha Menon is a Indian born artist, now living in Philadelphia USA, who has been deeply inspired by MF Hussain

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Wading through the world of colours

K Surekha

Shobha Menon

Her paintings are dream-like and poetry flows from them just as visuals flood your imagination when you read her verses. Multifaceted but more passionate about painting, Philadelphia-based Shobha Menon was in the city, her home town, where she hopes to exhibit her work in the near future. Her new project is a series on women depicted in the epics. She looks at them from her own vision of life. “My attempts are to demystify moral notions, tear away the veil of holiness.”

She looks beyond the textual interpretation of women in mythology and shows how ‘his’ stories are not ‘her’ stories. How they were victims of male fancies and fantasies and tools to fulfil their  pride and prejudice even as tradition paints them in colours of idealised women hood.

Shobha’s hands lead Gandhari, Draupadi, Madhavi and Sita out of the epics into their own world of introspection.

Sita in Excile-by-ShobhaMenon-2011-1

She is looking forward to showing her works in Delhi and Kochi. “I visit Kochi every year to connect with my root reality and visit art galleries and see as many performing arts as possible.” And when moved by them, paintings take shape. “When I saw Lokadharmi’s play ‘Madhavi’, I wanted to paint her,” says Shobha. Chandradasan is doing a play on Draupadi in which Shobha’s paintings will be incorporated. She is working on them. “I am creating nine large paintings (48” x 30”) for the play.”

They will be part of the narrative which is Krishna-centric and viewed in contemporary light. More than a production exhibition, the frames will serve as background, comment, create a particular atmosphere and link other episodes. Shobha is working on the series which is more of Pahadi and Kangra style of the north but recreated on a larger canvas. “I was the art director for Chandradasan’s first play ‘Theruvujatha’ based on Badal Sircar’s text and have known him since my Kalapeedom days in the mid 1980s.”

This time, her visit to Kochi coincided with the workshop of Mazhavillu, the children’s theatre of Lokadharmi. She was invited to do a session on the basics of art.

“Limited by space and facilities, we created  masks using paper and recycled or casually available materials and objects. The kids were very clever and came out with mixed media masks. It was a great experience for me. The children explored their creativity and  enjoyed playing with clay. It seemed like they had suddenly found freedom and joy when the clay took the shapes they desired.”

Though there is talent, art in India lacks many facilities that are available in the West, she says. Kerala’s art scenario is changing for the better with more and more art galleries coming up but artists have not ventured into setting up one.  Unfortunately in Kerala, professional art groups don’t have a common space for interaction unlike in Philadelphia where there are many art centres that provide space for fine arts and performing arts at the same venue.

Shobha has studios at Philadelphia and San Fransico and does shows throughout the year. After completing MFA in Art History and Aesthetics from MS University, Baroda, and PhD, she taught art for two years. Later she worked for about 10 years in the IT field as graphics and IT consultant. She also had a stint with animation, web design and development. She believes her experience in all the fields helped her look at society and the world with a wider perspective.

“Right now, I am exhibiting at MCGOPA-SPP galleries at Conshohocken, Pennsylvania, and Indo-American Council’s curated art show, Erasing Borders 2011, in New York. I am presenting a solo show “Behind the Fences…’ in Philadelphia from July 26 to August 4.”

Shobha likes to capture moods and emotions, internalised memories of myths and narratives, and the complexities and subtleties of human experience.

“The concept of core images that represent psychological dynamics has been important in relating my work with mythology. My works are best understood as a cultural construct with their own idioms formed by some universal values.” Though she prefers oil, she enjoys exploring other media. She loves looking at empty canvases and colours and enjoys the sensation of letting life’s mysteries and stories swirl around her. “Ultimately, I desire the visual work to offer a defined reading of my thoughts — past and present and a visual sensibility, a deep feeling to connect the viewer to the work.”

Shobha plans to return to her hometown for good.

Courtesy;  The New Indian express daily  on 4th June 2011.

Note;  Shobha Menon is part of Lokadharmi and she had designed the brochures, posteres website, and booklets of the group. she had documented the productions, and she is also a member of the director board of Lokadharmi.