Friday, 15 July 2011

One dark cloud too many.....

I have been walking around with my head in a dark cloud and tears that come too quickly to my eyes since the last two days. The idea of never knowing when the destructive tendencies of others can destroy the life of another, weighs heavy on my soul. Who will be the victim, targeted or accidental, in a world that today holds no explanations that make any logical sense about the "whys" of  these occurrences  leaves me weary; scrambling around inside of my head for the lifeline of optimism to keep me afloat.

The weight of love is difficult to express, especially if you have cultivated a philosophy where this is central to your ideas about life and existence. Perhaps such choices make ones emotions too tender and raw; but then for me it would be difficult to know any other way because this is the membrane by which the osmosis of  my comprehension occurs.

One of my best friends is at a crossroad in his life. A divorcee who had a terribly scarring experience ten years ago; today is desiring to remarry. The anxiety  he carries within him  not to make a mistake a second time round, floats into my orbit of concern; and I lug about this weight of worry in my heart, wishing that I could promise him a fairytale future.

It is not always the big and visible acts of violence that hold terror for some, but equally those private spaces of hidden pain or memories you chance upon in the lives of others, that can cloud the light and direction of purpose in personal journey. In the Collective Studio there are many times that a heart is heavy, and the spirit weary. It is at moments like these that the comfort of reassurance, the reminder of belief, the light of another or merely the silent understanding of a situation, makes it possible to fight another day and win.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Up in my studio....

I have four  paintings lined up against my studio wall, each one sort of clamouring for my attention like pesky kids sometimes do; and I catch myself sneakily peaking at them (like an over anxious mother does!) on occasions when my concentration and focus is meant to be else where! Pinks and greys and oranges and blues....all seated in confidence with the belief that they alone command the most delight of all; whilst objects and figures jostle together, elbowing and nudging one another to hold their rightful place for my consideration.

I know when a painting is finally finished because it sort of doesn't allow me to fidget with it any more. It rejects even  my surreptitious attempts to gain re-entry into its formation; and on those few occasions of stubborn insistence to impose and not heed what the painting quietly suggests, I have maimed and destroyed their inherent energies irrevocably.

A finished painting holds a space of it's own. You interact with it something like the way you engage with your adult child: in the knowledge that it comes from you; but often within a space where it turns back to teach you something from it's separated existence.

As an exhibition date nears I also love the swelling up of my studio with the work that fills its space - like a pregnant belly, ripe and ready to yield something you know; yet full of nuanced surprises that hold you equally in awe and anticipation.

Different friends hop off the shelves of my library and whisper different things to me. Manuscript paintings and favourite images become animated in the passion of mingling my senses into their intoxicating vibrancy. I strut around my studio wrapped these days in colourful sari's and bling bindi's, with the excitement of a performer preparing for my deliverance.

My studio reverberates with music these days. Joan Baez, Miles Davis, M.S Subbulakshmi, Indian Ocean, Zila Khan....three angels hold a new born infant on a pink background. This is the painting that calls out the loudest to me today. By this evening it may become quieter and need me less. 

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Up and down and turn around....

With a viral that has left me with sea legs and a lurching tummy for the last week, I have occupied myself with the finishing details of two of my current paintings. I always find that in the concentration and focus of working in my studio, even the most damning of headaches quietly creep into the back spaces of my consciousness, leaving me able to exist in a suspended state of  a "perfect" existence. That in my opinion is called Luck in the time of Viral!

The Collective Studio has had its share of ups and down in the last few months. The up factors start with a wonderful group show of Lee Hayan, Kim Seola and Schon Mendes to be hosted by Sakshi in the month of August. A great result for N. Divya who came second in her painting batch in her undergraduate program, and Kim Seola who was truly he toast of her M.A class with a display of water colours that stood on par with the work of those who were her examiners. Karishma D'souza has just been awarded a residency for 2012 at the Rijksakademie in Amsterdam, and Malavika Rajnarayan has been invited to the Can Serrat international artists residency program situated just outside of Barcelona in Spain. And perhaps most excitingly, Sonatina Mendes will soon be moving into her new studio-home built as a project by the Collective Studio. From the family in Bombay we had Mithun act in his first Bollywood movie Daana Paani and our Samera invited to be a jury member for the Print Week Awards.

The down side at the Collective Studio is that Kim Seola's father is critically ill with a long suffering health disorder that puts him in and out of hospital frequently. Lee Hayan's father too has a long standing kidney ailment that requires daily medical intervention and has just undergone an emergency hernia operation. N. Divya's mother in Chennai has been diagnosed with a spinal injury  that is giving her considerable pain, and needs a two week rest period. Malavika's maternal grandfather has suffered a stroke in Bangalore. Not to forget the recent hospitalization of our adopted granddaughter Aditi and Surendran  who currently is with a bronchial congestion that would put a wheezing bus to shame! All in all not the best health bulletin to report. Begum of course looks cool in the "pre-monsoon-kill-the-lizard-and-put-it-under-mama's-favourite-chair-to-frigging-freak -her-out" season!

But with all this happening, the love and care and consideration in the Collective Studio brings together energies that otherwise alone would not be there to tide us through the sometimes exhausting aspects of emotional worry, and physical health issues that need attention. However the see-saw of life in an interesting thing to encounter with ones eyes wide open. The views from up or the bottom are in fact really the same landscape of life; it's just a matter of how we guide our perception, and whether we want to hold the entire vista of what the vision of life truly entails.

* Standing: N.Divya and Lee Hayan. Middle row:Sonatina Mendes and Malavika Rajnarayan. Seated at bottom row: Kim Seola and Schon Mendes.

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Gathering my own sea shells....

A lot of my "thinking" occurs when taking my shower in the morning. Stray thoughts from almost the entire universe of my being invade my head, like juggernauts from outer space; and I close my eyes and allow them to settle into my consciousness before attempting the process of sorting and analysing the whys and what's of all that is in my head. I really value this special time that welcomes into my day, people and thoughts that index where my mind will lay itself, to contemplate.

In equal measure, I need to often empty my head of the load I carry, and the time I spend coming back from the gym (on those days where this routine is not ruptured), I once again consciously empty my head by another process of random associations that work in the opposite manner. I take from my mind and place outside of myself the connection and conjunctions that almost "leave" the idea or thought pinned elsewhere;  outside of me. I often let laughter invade my being when I am on my own, letting the actual physical act of laughter be released through  humorous associations that I make up within my head.

This filling and emptying of my inner self is like a distilling process. It filters and releases, and allows for new spaces of energy to be examined; sometimes by allowing the sense of control to be abandoned and drifting in a space of complete nothingness or lightness.

My spiritual intoxication has never come from external substances but has been realised from this internal well that can produce a sensation of sublime fulfilment from self discovery. Whether from the strand of a memory, a location of recollection, the strains of music revisited, or the stillness of my head as I paint ......... all this and more; like the ebb and flow of the sea brings energy to the shoreline of my life.

Friday, 1 July 2011

The refresh button....

Yesterday I had a talk with the students and the artists in residence of the Collective Studio about the ideas of remembrance, and the role that this should play within our personal lives. Why it is essential to hold memories, and to acknowledge to oneself what has offered us opportunities without which our journeys may well have been very different. Why it is the smallest gestures that often hold the most poignant of memories. And above all why faith, hope and optimism need to guide our spirit of endeavor.

I heard a dancer recently being advised to not dance the steps, but the intention. I completely identify with this. The essential truth of understanding how to find greater meaning lies in keeping our actions from become mere rituals of obligation. Mediocrity has become a tag attached to far too many aspects of endeavor, and because our own mediocrity is visible in the indifference of our deeds, we therefore ignore the mediocrity of others. And so the cycle of perpetuation continues unbroken.

In remembrance we bring to the forefront of our conscience what illuminates our spirit, and how and where we can take the light of our knowledge forward. For an internal world of life and light to exist, an outer world of recognition must be determined. These two forces hold the energies of our life in its best balance.

Memories are the tapestry from which we discover the personalities that shape us and the politics that guide us. Memories become the sheath that holds the weapons of our courage and valor; the shield that protects and shelters. Memories become the continuum of our legacy after we die. Each day in my studio, or in other private moments of my day, I gather to my mind some memories (stray or provoked by situations or circumstances) to hold and re-examine. In doing so I believe I hold my consciousness with greater meaning.