Friday, December 29, 2006

A street scene.

This is a new painting of mine.Mixed media on paper.This is a street scene in Trivandrum during the monsoon.You can see a gypsy family crossing the street with their possessions on their head .

Friday, December 22, 2006

Dantoon Seller waiting in the morning chill for customers

'Dantoons' are the tooth brushes used by north Indians traditionally.They are mostly twigs of neem trees or babool trees.Many medicinal properties are attributed to them.

'La-den -La-den'

Here is 'La-den' lumbering up a hillock to enter a village, in search of his adversaries who have encroached on his forestland. :-)

Monday, December 18, 2006

'Laden" downed

"Laden, the elephant was killed at a tea plantation in Sonipur district,240km north of Guwahati on Saterday" say today's news papers.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The Theyyams.

These are the 'theyyams' from north malabar performing their ritualistic dance on the stage at Trivandum at the inaugeration of the Film Festival. The Theyyams are supposed to be the representatives of gods and were seen only in the temples -some thing like the oracle of the ancient Greeks. Theyyams are not 'ancient' for us yet.But they have left the confines of the temples and come to perform for the public and tourists now.Their colourful dress and attractive masks enchant people.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Time to turnround.

LEAVES By C K Williams A pair of red leaves spinning on one another in such wildly erratic patterns over a frozen field it's hard to tell one from another and whether if they were creatures they'd be in combat or courting or just exalting in the tremendousness of their being. Humans can be like that, capricious, aswirl, not often enough in exalting, but courting, yes, and combat; so often in combat, in rancor, in rage, we rarely even remember what error or lie set off this phase of our seeming to have to slaughter. Not leaves then, which after all in their season give themselves to the hammer of winter, become sludge, become muck, become mulch, while we, still seething, broiling, stay as we are, vexation and violence, ax, atom, despair The picture above is of a little boy protesting the killing of his father in a terrorist attack in Bagdad. periodos :-)

Saturday, December 09, 2006

More Photos from "painted canvas"

Admiring the works :-) Participants. amma the media attention :-) From the study class.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Angry, so will protest .

Picture of an angry fish seller leading a protest and 'road blockades' yesterday morning at a suburb of Trivandrum--Kumarapuram.This is a thickly populated part of city and the corporation wants to move the fish and vegetable market.But that would not be an easy task--as you can see from the lady's expression :-). Umpteen number of such protests take place in Trivandrum every week ,or should I say every day.The roads near the Secretatiate of Kerala are packed with protesters to the great hardship of the motorists and pedestrians.It has become a tourist attraction of a different kind of "God's Own State" almost like its 'health and ayurvedic tourism'.Hope some smart travelagent will make good use of the shows put up by various groups protesting so colourfuly .Unfortunately it is not an annual show like our 'snake boat races'. People of Kerala-the malayalees.....Ah, we are such a special people. :-).Our presence is felt all over the world. Kerala is the land where Islam entered peacefully.The Jews felt safe and welcome.They could practice their faith with self respect here.Christian missionaries were given land and honored and given a free hand to preach and convert by the hindu rajas of Malabar,Cochin and Travancore.And we are all still one--first and foremost "malayalee".We were the first to elect a communist government too, to rule us.Very few can beat us in the matter of literacy too. And no people can be as suspicious and egocentric as the malayee in his own home land :-).That is my opinion. I will try to put up more paintings of our protesters.
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Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Painted Canvases--

Here are some photos taken at the exhibition of painting by 'Kerala Chithra Kala Parishath'- a group show by nearly 30 artists based at Trivandraum. Life study-sketching the seated model Jagath Thirupuram studying the sketches . Some of the sketches.Mine is second from right :-) .Sorry, will be getting a proper digital camera soon. Busy artists.Dr Thomas Abraham preparing for his second study :-). The gifted artist-Mr E C Mathew is all concentration. A view of the show. Another view- My space :-)

Monday, December 04, 2006

Artistic Influence.

"Art is meant to disturb,science (to)reassure" so said Georges Braque (1882-1963) the famous French painter who developed 'fauvism ' in art in 1905,and 'cubism' with Picasso. Later on he also popularised the technic known as 'collage'. A very versatile artist who kept experimenting through out his long and successful career. But how true is the statement quoted above.? Both art and science can disturb and reassure,is it not? I dont think the words 'meant to be' in that statement is important any more.Both art and science can be used by us, to our benifit. Art can disturb even now, as the copy of 'Guernica' (commissioned and donated byNelson Rockfeller)at UN obviously did, the Bush administation, even as late as Feb 2003 .It seems it was covered up by a cloth when Collin Wilson was making a statement there . If that is true, then, inspite of the visuals we are bombarded daily with in TV and Newspapers- of the pain and sufferings caused by the'war' at different 'theaters' where the superpowers are engaged in cleaning up the society for us :-) artists and their works have power -power enough to momentarily at least 'shame' a superpower . Picasso's painting of pain and suffering does its trick even now after so many decades of Spanish war! By the way it was the 'critics' and the 'know alls' of the art world who were more thrilled than the artist himself by all the interpretations of 'symbolisms' in Guernica.Picasso is said to have said "This bull is a bull and this horse is a horse...if you give a meaning to certain things in my paintings it may be very true,but it is not my idea to give this meaning.....I make the painting for painting I make the objects for what they are." phew... :-0 Ok,now the painting above is one I did recently.I had shown it at a recent exhibition and quite a few young people came up to me and said that it had moved them very much.That statement did move me too :-). in that painting I tried to depict two women of Middle east consoling each other, with their homes and every other possession lying destroyed around them.In every war it is the women and children who suffer the most. I often wonder if women of the world could not do more to prevent wars--at least in future.Could they teach their sons to abhor wars-- like Picasso ?

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Dachshund is also a dog :-).

This,on the left is a'portrait of Happy'done by me today. The other day I found a drawing of a dog by Pablo Picasso. :-). Here it is on the left below Happy. Then again we have one by the famous 'pop artist' Andy Warhol. It is named 'Portrait of Maurice',given in the middle :-).

Monday, November 27, 2006

Artist ,idiology and activism.

A painting of mine.This is more than 25 years old.Do not remember the year exactly for it is not now with me. Paintings, should they have a message?Should they reflect the turmoils in the society? (it usually will reflect in the work of the artist if his mind is in turmoil :-) Or should it be an instrument of social change?Should it have an idiology?Should art be used as a tool or is it solely for self-expression of the artist?Won't all these burden an artist and his work? Can he be true when he works for an 'audience'? Will not the need to be popular affect his work,ultimately . These should be debated.

An artist will be at his best when he is left free,no doubt.With the state breathing down on his back how does he work?But when he has no quarrel with" the state's idiology " then obviously he has no problem.Can that state last for long? Sooner than later the powers that be will meddle and remind him of his" duty".Will that not affect his artistic development?

All said and done-the artists of communist Rassia did produce some very fine works. Modern works and realistic ones . Here are a couple of paintings from Communist Russia.

This painting on left is by Nikolai Ippolitovich Dt 1957,called"Before the Storm"

The one below is called"Builders of G.E.S Brotherhood(1961) by Viktor Efimovich Popkov.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

My "Post"

This is the cozy corner of my house where I seem to be spending most of my time now. I completed 4 new paintings this month! The latest being something I like very much.A young man reading out some thing he finds interesting to his friend-a girl in a city park. Some thing which impressed me when I saw London was the open spaces around and inside the big city.What I saw was very different to the picture I had of London in my mind-from all that I had read about it.One of the strangest sights I saw at London was a fox trotting down the road as I peeped out of the hotelroom window at night. We stayed very close to Hyde Park. I love that city . Wonder if I was able to convey what I had in my mind when I painted it.Hope to put it up on the blog soon.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Unhappy Happy

Yesterday ,I went to an exhibition of 'digital images 'created by B Priyaranjanlal.There were some interesting creations,like the one where 4 men are shown trying to drag an airplane across a writing table ,like a kite, to get it to fly. I have never tried my hands at such an artform yet.Any way, why not make my dog Happy walk through muck :-) so I thought ,when I came home after the show.He would rather starve than walk though wet ground to his food. (He would do anything to avoid getting his paws dirty or even wet) The photograph of the slushy Mumbai roads after the rains ,provided by Rajeev.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Some thoughts on Ravi Varma.

Here you see a painting by Raja Ravi Varma(1848-1900).A man and a woman romancing around a pillar.Now you know from where our film directors at Bollywood got their ideas on how young men and women should'romance'-express their love running around trees and pillars.Movie watchers around the world are captivated by the ingenuity with which we have been running the same kind of love sequences for so many decades. This is another painting in oil by Ravi Varma of a Travancore princess.Note her traditional dress. But it is said that it was Ravi Varma who popularised the 'saree' as a dress for women of Kerala,for his female models were mostly from North India, mainly from Maharashtra,and they wore sarees,as this lady in his painting at left. Here you see an painting of mine in mixed media.A writer trying to capture her muse on her paper:-) .

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Thoughtful brahmin

I present here a figurative painting I did recently in acrylic based on one done many years ago,nearly 30 years ago during my student days.I hope I can put up that original painting too soon. This picture represents a brahmin.But you dont be surprised to know that the person who inspired me to paint this was a Muslim neighbour of ours at Bangalore.Those were the days when Bangalore was really 'a city of gardens'.There were great open places around besides the well laid out gardens.There were open spaces around the bungalows .The pace of life was leisurely.This gentleman who lived in our neighbourhood was a 'land -lord' that is made his living by collcting rent on the numerous buildings he owned ,and could be found leaning on the wall of his huge compound most afternoons looking at the people passing by on the road.Hope it looks interesting :-).

Sold by 'Suryakanthi Art Gallery ' ,Trivandrum.

Monday, November 06, 2006

' friends at tea '

Above is a painting called 'watch man' by famous American realistic artist Daniel E Green. On left is a painting called'the girl at the window'by famous Iranian realistic painter Iman Maleki.My sister sent it to me.It is so realistic that it can be passed off as a photo.You can find more of his paintings on this site.www.imanmaleki.com On top is a painting of mine named 'friends at Tea'.It is oil on canvas.I painted it as a sovenir of the carefree days of youth when you had all the time for friendship and it was easier to meet friends who shared your taste and ideas.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Family portrait

Here is a photo of a painting .I painted it some time ago.Imagine finding an old box in your attic belonging to a forefather opening it and finding a faded and torn ,ready to crumble family photo and you carefully straighten it and place it on a brown paper and try to restore it as best as you can.Imagined?So this is that :-). It portrays a young landlord of 'Gods own country' and his family. The Department of Tourism gave this catchphrase to its advertisements on Kerala tourism when my husband was the head of the depatrment.Perhaps it was meant to remind the viewers also that this land of Kerala was claimed by 'the mighty axe wielding brahmin warrior Parasurama' an incarnation of Vishnu ,from Varuna -the sea god.So Gods own land -lush and green and beautiful. The dress of Malayalee was 'a mundu' -a piece of white cotton cloth wraped around the waist and another cloth narrower in width thrown over the shoulders called 'angavastram'.No shirt for the malayali man--how ever high or low he was in society. The king and pauper wore mundu and an angavastram -same white dress. Infact the lower caste had no right to cover the upper part of his body infront of the upper caste men or women.As for the hindu woman,she wore a mundu the same way as her men and threw a piece of cloth over her bossom .No bodice or blouse.'Free and proud ;-).This was the case even as recently as a little more than half a century ago.In fact wearing a blouse was considered debasing--loosing caste and shameful, just a century ago.Nair women had no need for 'bra burning and women's rights movements'.So this is the photo from those days.Days when the nairs followed the matrilinear system .

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

"Happy 50th birth day Kerala"

Today was celebrated as the golden jublee of the founding of the State of Kerala,by bringing together the states of Travancore,Cochin and Malabar.One could find many women dressed in the traditional dress of Kerala on the roads today, unlike the other days when 'salvar-kameezes'outnumber sarees .One hardly sees any 'mundu and neriyathu'the real Malayalee dress for women on the roads these days. Here I will present you a painting of 'thiruvathira kali' I painted in Acrylic on canvas. Wouldn't you want to know what is so special about this 'thiruvathira kali'? Ok here we go- It is a simple dance form , originally almost exclusivly of Nair community of Kerala.When you come to think of it ,there is some thing exceptional about Thiruvathira it self.It is a festival exclusively for women :-).It goes to show the clout women had in the Nair Tharavad ? Dont know. There is something very moving about this festival anyway.It is celebrated according to tradition to commemorate the death of "Kamadeva"the god of love.(to some, the birthday of Lord Siva). Thiruvathira falls in the month of December when the climate is usually cool.The women wake up early by 4 am and go to the Temple Pond or to the Tharavad 'kulam'(swimming pool:-) )if they have one and have their bath.As they bathe they sing songs about the god of love,accompanied by the sound of rhythemic music made by their palms hitting and splashing the water.As they conclude the women stand in water hand in hand in circle and sing songs.Does that not evoke a special picture in your mind?Hope to paint that one day. That night is kept apart for singing and dancing by the women--round and round a wick lamp (nilavilakku)with rhythemic clapping of hands.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Rajani with her dog Kim.

Kim was our first pet.A dachshund.He was mainly my daughter Rajani's own dog.He was about 4 months old when Rajani went to get him and I still remember her riding home with the pup on the back seat of the car .It was sitting next to her with his eyes fixed on her face.He grew up to be a high spirited dog. Here you can see Rajani taking Kim for a walk.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Monsoons in Trivandrum

We in Trivandrum are in the midst of monsoons.A delightful time of the year. I still remember my school days in Kuthuparamba--the village I was born in and studied for about three years .Many a times we would not have classes due to heavy rains-so heavy that you cannot see more than a few steps in front as you walk and umbrellas were quite useless.It would be dark and as children we would imagine the end of the world in floods.:-).Those were the days without electricity(our village was not yet electrified)and our source of entertainment during those days when we were confined inside the house was our grandmother .We would sit around her and listen to tales from "Bagavatham".The substitute of our modernday "superman":-). If the day began on a 'blue'note--without rains and clouds,we were packed off to school.As the day progressed the sky would start to look greyer and greyer and by midafternoon it would be dark and there would be signs of thunder and lightnings and finally what we were waiting for would happen -the headmaster would decide that it is safer to let off the students early and we would all rush out to go home which was 20 mins walk from school ,jumping into the puddles and hoping that the sky would open up even before we reach home.Oftentimes it would and I and my cousins would have a lovely time getting completly wet folding up our umbrellas or holding them upside down and collecting rainwater in them. Here is a painting of a woman walking in the rain in Trivandrum.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Lady with the cat.

This is the 'lady with the cat'.Done in mixed media,painted on canvas.size-60/49 cm. This is a house wife relaxing in the afternoon after all the work is done and it is quite all round.

On a write up about 'Women Strokes'

'Usha Ramachandran derived inspiration from newspaper items, photographs, visuals on television et al. Her paintings touched a spectrum of areas - the destruction of Lebanon , tsunami, autumn leaves and nostalgic memories. But one of her arresting paintings was `The satisfied house wife with a cat.' "There is a general misconception that non-working women are frustrated and discontented. Homemaking is such a challenging task and perhaps the most fulfilling one for a woman," says Usha The exhibition by 6 women artists was very well received.Lots of visitors,including- surprise -surprise Michael Palin !!! That was a good,happy experience.Met many painting enthusiasts and artists.Learnt a lot ,this being my first experience.Sreebala and Ranjini came to see and Bala was very supportive(It was a great experience to see so many --young ,old and middle-aged individuals who were Bala's fans :-).Jimmy rang up saying he would do what he could to help.One feels enthused when one comes across such support. By the way ,did I say "perhaps most fulfilling one for women"? Certainly not.I believe that depends on the woman.Home maker can cetainly be very happy with what she is doing ,as I was,and it is as good as you have a mind to make it.It could be a challenge (esp if one is not a good manager?)or smooth if one is lucky enough to have other members of the family who knows who is 'managing'. Ok, that is it.I had amostly lovely time ,when I look back.I feel I have not done a bad job too.Had hoobies like painting ,reading ,stiching ,gardening,window shopping to take my mind off and relax .I am thankful. Hope I can give more to art now.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Boy and his" friend goat"

 I painted this picture from a photograph of my son's taken when he was not yet two years.We were then living at the old bunglow of Palghat RDO-decades old ,built by the British. It had a big kitchen garden and a goat belonging to some body used to visit regularly to eat freely of the juicy grass and the gourds that grew in it.Rajeev found this creature amazing .I added the goat to the picture from memory.

www.usharamachandran.com