Sunday, February 28, 2010

Drawing is Seeing, by Damian Fennell ARBS

The following piece was written by Damian Fennell ARBS, as a supporting text to my show Evaporated Meanings at the Hirji Gallery, Mumbai in Oct 2009. He is a sculptor with a deep sense of drawing and his works exemplify that awareness. In 2006, Damian invited me to Art in Action, in Oxfordshire to present my extreme abstract approach to drawings. It was one of the most memorable moments in my drawing exitence.

Drawing is about seeing. The primary challenge it presents lies in making the shift in the mind from seeing what you think is there to seeing what is really there. The painful but invaluable gift of drawing is that ultimately it forces the artist to recognise that we spend our entire lives seeing and therefore existing in a dreamworld – a projection of our own minds. Somehow the discipline of the drawing process breaks through that veil, because the ostensibly simplistic process of drawing what you see, whether that subject is observable through sight or only in the mind’s eye, leaves a faithful imprint of what you believed was there. Very like the detached experience of hearing a recording of your own voice as if it were someone else’s, that faithful imprint (the drawing) reflects back to the artist and to any onlooker not the ‘real’ world, but actually a record of the artist’s ideas and beliefs. Drawing involves a complex interplay of skills, but the essential one is of learning to see objectively, to turn off the labelling and recognising facility in the mind, to learn to witness like a very young child again. It is an undoing process, a right brain engagement, a discipline of consciously quietening down the left brain rationalising and filing system that habitually dominates most of or everyday thinking and perceiving, that rejects raw data absorbed through the senses in favour of a categorised version. Drawing celebrates the raw data.

Drawing is about touch. Just as the act of seeing can be experienced as a constant balancing act between the apparently paradoxical disciplines of intense concentration and the total letting go of control; similarly touch is simultaneously about both the profound connection of hand with medium right at the moment of contact and the emancipated dance of movement and accident. Touch is mark-making. The attention can become so finely focussed on the point of contact between drawing instrument and surface that no infinitesimal movement or degree of pressure is unintended. But then it takes on a life of its own nonetheless. Accidental marks occur that in the context of the whole are anything but accidental. The marks get made within an immersive field of consciousness that seems to inflate out from the sustained single-point of attention. It engulfs the mark-maker, nothing else at that moment, in that space, exists, yet the space feels vast.

Venantius Pinto’s drawings exist within this meditative genre of drawing practice – the intense subtlety and range of his marks gives the game away. His abstract drawings are highly gestural, the marks almost frenetic, but they are contained within calm compositions, and their sensitivity of touch gives them an ethereal quality, as if the energy is highly refined. Such distinctive mark-making language only evolves over years of sustained practice within this field of consciousness. Pinto’s language, although experimental and often generated in contemporary digital media, is rooted in an ancient tradition. Like his choice of media that fuses the traditional with the cutting edge, his gestural energetic marks owe a debt of allegiance to Buddhist calligraphy. Buddhist monks used the practice of calligraphy as a meditative process, much as Christian monastic orders created illuminated manuscripts. But the Eastern approach was very different of course; calligraphic pictograms were painted with quite large, unwieldy brushes that hold a lot of ink yet taper to a fine point. The pictogram is written in a flourish, a single danced movement, and the pursuit of perfection was not in the blemishlessness of the marks as it was for Christians, but in the total presentness of the act, the flourish, accompanied by a disciplined transcending of the urge to control the outcome – desirelessness. The resultant mark-making language is by its nature highly gestural and individualistic, with an overwhelming emphasis on the content in each mark. This is the tradition within which Venantius Pinto’s work seems to lie, because this is the way he seems to work. His marks are, interestingly, very calligraphic – a tendency towards short flicked strokes of varied weight surely influenced by a meditative process often with a brush. Even the long vertical scroll-like format of many of his works speaks of Eastern calligraphy. Perhaps like Chinese Brush Painting there is buried within his works a system of marks, even if subconsciously so, that each have meaning and tell a story. But more important than the story, and more insistently evident on the surface of the image, the marks speak of the exquisite interplay of concentration and desirelessness.

Damian Fennell is a Creative Director at the top architectural visualisation company Cityscape Digital, in Shoreditch, Central London, and Former Courses Director at The Art Academy, an independent fine arts diploma school on the South Bank, London. Damian’s tumblr blog. 

Friday, February 26, 2010

Sugar's Bitter Policies by Kobad Gandhy

Sugar's Bitter Policies, written at Tihar by Kobad Gandhy; and pub. in Mainstream Weekly. While we are modernizing it helps to understand what exactly is happening. While designers design and happily thrive in every new discover, design awareness; what designs do governments and business—local, state and Corporates have in mind for its people. What schemes are been passed on as change? Who wins and who looses, and what does it all mean in terms of ones Self, Being, Atman? What are ones responsibilities. An extrapolated and fair question would be, for instance—what responsibility does a teacher have towards ones students. Its all about being aware and making correct analogies.

I doubt anyone would think the following excerpt from Kobad Gandhy's Sugar's Bitter Policies, does not make common sense any more plainer. The following piece is really about consciousness and awareness.
One would have thought, given the free-market mantra of the rulers, that high sugar prices would at least convert into higher prices for the producers—the fifty million sugarcane farmers. But that was not to be; the so-called free market functions only to benefit big business, traders and politicians. In this case both the producers and consumers are being crushed by the cane and sugar pricing policies of the government dictated by the millers and international sugar cartels.

The following article on the present rise in prices of sugar has been written by Kobad Ghandy, the CPI (Maoist) leader now lodged in Ward No. 8 of Tihar Jail No. 3. Though suffering from prostrate cancer and incarcerated in prison he retains an alert mind as is reflected in the following
article sent specially for publication in this journal.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

A lecture on Maratha coins by Dr. Shailendra Bhandare, at Bharat Itihas Samshodak Mandal, Pune

From Parag Purandare at Bharat Itihas Samshodhak Mandal, Pune

8th lecture of the Bharat Itihas Samshodhak Mandal Centenary series by Dr. Shailendra Bhandare (Asst. Curator,
Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford, U.K.) on Friday 26th Feb. 2010 on Maratha coins, at BISM Potdar Hall at 6 p.m.

The lecture will be in English and is open to all.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Richard De Smet: Brahman and Person

Ivo Coelho, sdb is the editor of Brahman and Person: Essays by Richard De Smet, published by Motilal Banarsidas, Delhi. He is very keen on finding individuals who had studied with De Smet, as also seeking their notes taken during class, including those in Latin. Ivo may be reached at His blogs are MUSINGS and PHILOSOPHICAL MUSINGS.

Here is the first paragraph from the following link on
Richard De Smet on Wiki. Richard De Smet, SJ, was a Jesuit Indologist and missionary to India. Born at Charleroi, Belgium, he came to India as a young student of theology in 1946. Upon completion of his theological studies, he studied Sanskrit in Calcutta under G. Dandoy, P. Fallon and R. Antoine, all members of the so-called "Calcutta School" of Jesuit Indologists. Provoked by a talk by Dr S. Radhakrishnan at a meeting of the Indian Philosophical Congress at Calcutta in 1950, where the famous professor claimed that Sankara was a purely rational philosopher, De Smet decided to show that he was, instead, a srutivadin, a theologian who subordinated reason to the revealed (apauruseya) scripture. De Smet went on to do his doctorate on The Theological Method of Samkaracarya, completing it at the Gregorian University, Rome, in 1953. Though he never got round to publishing this thesis, it became rather famous among Indologists and there are hundreds of copies in circulation.

From Monastic Interreligious Dialogue (Sponsored by North American Benedictine and Cistercian Monasteries of Men and Women).
Richard De Smet (1916-1997) was a scholar of Hindu thought, Sankara, and his system of Advaita Vedanta.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Videos of Kentucky miners which we Goans could use to raise our consciousness

Here are a few testimonies of Kentucky miners speaking from the heart, on issues related to hilltop removal, water, land, and ways of living. They appeared on from Jeff Biggers. "Jeff Biggers is the author of the new book, Reckoning at Eagle Creek: The Secret Legacy of Coal in the Heartland (Nation/Basic Books)." The second part may not be every Goans cup of frak-chau.

The first one of Carl Shoupe gets to the point about what matters most—water. The second one is of Elmer Llyod; very touching. He wishes to live within the law and ardently hopes that the law would be considerate (to a way of life—which incidentally is not archaic). The third speaker Stanley Sturgill mentions that those having an appetite for flat land, should go to where it is and not shave off hills. Over time, JoeGoaUks photos (recently of Curca) makes that it clear that is what has been happening in Goa for too long. My views, are also informed and supplemented through photos by JoeGoaUK, Rajan P. Parrikar's photo documentary,
The Rape of Goa, as also by others, including text by other writers. In fact, the cross on the hill in Batim (the one which face Pilar) in line with the old Kadamba Marg/Path as in Janpath/Road/Highway, I believe was on the verge of collapse (perhaps now accomplished) on account of the soil not being able to support it. That is patrimony lost, although a dot—an existential one on our emotive panorama—albeit handed/foisted via the Portuguese. But on the other hand there is mind numbing development in progress a little further away.

More on Jeff Biggers here, and Coal is dirty.
From Jeff Biggers page:
Bad Manners: India to Big Mining Co: Take This Mine and Shove It

Trailer - Mine: story of a sacred mountain
Survival, The movement of tribal peoples

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This is really about awareness. In that sense i truly believe that for Goans, Christianity can give a lot to the people. To mean, beginning with Goan Christians—considering, there are particular institutionalised formalisms within its practice; sharing with those in whose midst one exults and interacts through a lived aesthetic—if only we would; as in imparting meaningful values in being mindful.

But in generally what we incessantly see on Goanet is pretence along with seriously gratuitous terms—a vertigo of politesse, and politeness as pretense. And I do make the distinction between Goans on the ground, various Goans sensibilities in Goanity in Goa, outside Goa and the myriad views on Goanet. Use an off color word and we get bent a bit, little realizing that the beast is arching its tongue towards us all. I mean what are up--are people turning in spoons and forks—tuning forks perhaps?!

On the other hand we love to pick at things in the assumed spirit of fairness. What fairness is such? Does one try that with ones wife (perhaps), or ones children? How about ones
dadlo munis, mensch/hobby hubby? And how many of those "blood-relatives" meaningfully exist with you in the face of such layers of judgement. Or is that judgement only reserved for others. Stuff like, one helps those who are willing to help themselves. Is that self-helping "expression" another form of chalaki; aiding one who is street-smart to begin with. I hear wives and sons proudly telling me of such-and-such, to get me to understand the pride they have reposed in their menfolk.

And finally I hope this is a bit opaque enough so it racks some far-minded and fair-minded brains towards consciousness.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Colloqualism Alamabrad/u from Alhambra—al hamra; Alhambresque, Alhambraic

Eddie Verdes of Konkani - Song Lyrics/Proverbs at asked me (as also posted on Goanet) whether Alamabradu is a Konkani/Portugese word and its meaning in English.
Alamabradu tuje pole, mogreche kolle, Alamabrad(u) your cheeks like jasmine buds Distai motiamche zodde, They look like a pair of pearls

As posted on Goanet on Feb 7, MMX.
Okay Eddie, going out on a limb now:
In Arabic al hamra literally means, the red. Alhambra, the red castle from Moorish Spain, is one of the most romantic sights and the height of "Moorish art in its final European development" ( It stirred the minds of Portuguese poets who used colloquial references evoked through Moorish forms. There could be a double meaning as in red cheeks and seeing them-- the cheeks al hamra/the red, as citadels, seeing the complete face as the castle facade, alhambra in the minds eye.

Alamabrad(u), as in Konkani with the Lusitanian/Arabic (via Spain) colloquial interjection, the red cheeks Tambde tujhe polle [red, reddened)---not reddish (not tamsor)]. Portuguese words for red: avermelhado = reddish, vermelho = red, redder = mais vermelho, não obscuridade vermelho, vermelho nao claro.

In English one may refer to something as Alahambresque /Alhambraic, to refer to spectacularly ornamentation as in this Moorish creation. So an analogy was perhaps made with the red aspect to express the color in the cheeks. furthermore alluding to seeing them as ornaments---evoking fascination (referring to the exotic coloration)---apparently, as the next line clearly reveals them as a pair of pearls. Creating a colloquial expression set in Spain could be in a sense seeing Spain as a generator of exotic forms from a Portuguese perspective.

Now it is up to someone from Portugal, or someone inclined towards seeking meaning in such queries to suggest a reference or two in the early Lusitania poetry that borrowed visually from Spain.

My long term goal has been to write a dictionary on color but related to Japan, which already has many. Perhaps Goanetters and others will help out by providing as many terms related to color as you can fine. Take your time. Just keep it at the back of your mind. Remember it can came in any form, even a saying, a phrase like this one one.