Logbook of an Unknown Artist | Paintings Of Animesh Roy

Logbook of an Unknown Artist | Paintings Of Animesh Roy

Art of Animesh Roy Please keep in touch with my Facebook page: www.facebook.com/animeshroyartist Still Life with plate o...

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Nirmal Baba & Mohinder Amarnath

I don't understand this public anger and lampooning of a new baba on the scene these days:

Nirmal Baba!!

As if he is the first of its kind!!

I am remained of the 'मछली Baba' in 'Joy Baba Felunath*' from my childhood days!! He of course didn't recommend mouth-watering yummy samosas or gulabjamuns... only uneatable 'মন্ত্র-পুত-শর্ক' i.e মাছের আঁশ (fish scales)!!

Maybe the uproar is caused because of his faith in samosa/ rasugollla's curative and remedial values and not in 'चरनाम्रिता'** or in tying black thread or relying on a red handkerchief.

Now everyone in India has joined in to jeer poor Nirmal Baba!! And all are busy putting one-another down with their 'scientific-rational-clear-headedness'!! It is of course a stance taken to cover 'their shame and self consciousness' about their faith or let say their 'blind faith' as is now popularly termed!! On Facebook I have noticed if there is any discussion on any of India's innumerable Gurus/Pundits/Babas... the comments would always start with a very cliched clarification viz. "I am not a supporter of Baba Ramdev... I am not a follower of Murai Bapu, I don't believe in Sai Baba, Asaram Bapu xzy". Most Indians want to pretend that they are not what the West think they are... a country full of superstitions, beliefs and a billion gods etc. We are very defensive about this and thus are busy condemning our own faiths and beliefs and our Gurus and Babas. They don’t realise they maybe condemning one Baba... but there are a million Babas and a billion habits and beliefs we follow, every day of our lives in India for a long-long time now!! And there is nothing wrong with that... if we are not preaching hate and are not a closed society. During the long Imperialism, the West constantly derided us about our faith and beliefs, thus inculcated a shame in us about our faith and beliefs. We hide our sacred thread with shame or our amulets around our arms or our red threads on the wrist... or a mala/talismans around our necks.. But you travel around the world and you will see people wear a cross around their neck (or any symbol of faith) with pride!! They are not apologetic. The entire world civilization is based on this... I don’t think if one has a few superstitions.. it doesn’t hurt anyone and in fact it gives us power and a positive frame of mind which no logical, rational ideas can give. All around the world superstitions and blind faiths etc. is practised and will continue to. No one is a fraud and nothing is superstitious or wrong or criminal etc... all is a matter of Faith!! All organised religions of the world are a set of faiths... There is also a notion our faiths like these, will keep us backward etc. But see the Japanese, the Jews in Israel or the West... they too have faiths, superstitions and rituals without logic and doing very well. Faith never hurts anyone... nor does it stops us from progressing. There is another logic very prevalent in India that superstitions and blind faith makes us weak and cowards!! They don’t.. on the contrary, it gives courage to face any adversity.. There is the example of Mohinder Amarnath, one of most gutsy cricket players the Cricket playing nations have ever seen. In the 70s and 80s non could face the fast bowling of the legendary West Indian pace bowlers... Amarnath was one of the few who could take it like a man... He used a red handkerchief to peek out of his pocket!!

Rituals, small gestures are part of human nature. I remember during the 'IFA Shield' football matches in Calcutta in the 70s. The Bengali/Indian footballers who would smartly lineup before entering the football field and then each of them would bend and touch the ground with their hand and back to their forehead or heart: प्रणाम!!
My father, an atheist would deride these acts of rituals etc. He was of course very proud of the visiting Soviet players (those days most clubs came from the Eastern Bloc) who would just haphazardly enter the arena!!!

I just witnessed the Euro Cup 2012 in Poland... all European footballers reverently did this ritual of pranaam!!

A sadhu I met who recounted his journeys across India. Bare feet, chimta and a kamandal. Nabadwip, Krishnagar, India Jan 2011.
For some of us, Gurus, Baba, Temple etc. are like our Saviour (god-like) and for a non-believer a charlatan... at the end of the day all that matters is who and what gives your mind some peace, some consolation... it can be a गोलगप्पा (golgappa) or रसगुल्ला (rasugollla)* recommended by Nirmal Baba or tying a red thread around your wrist or on Darga grilled walls.. (the Sarkozyes were in India and they did the same... now they have a child!! I wonder how many will find that funny and deride that!!) Any form of ritual one believes in... if these give your mind some peace and brings back your confidence and you are able to get-up from your broken-down mental/physical state of being... why not? So I feel one must not make fun of any gurus... for some they are of great importance and help... Exactly like Allopathic doctors (psychiatrist) of modern age... they listen to your problem..and give you verbal consolation.. maybe some drugs/tablets/antidepressants.. if you have faith it may work... many a times it does not...as we can see from the result of so many in the West.. rich and successful yet not happy.. unable to even get a good night's sleep... Michael Jackson died.. in the process!! Most are unable to get rid off their many problems (psychological etc.) though they have the best of the medical science behind them!! We in India have long, strong tradition of following our gurus.. in all our past we had many Gurus... and after centuries these Gurus turn into Gods for us... and many in their own time were crucified and killed or humiliated....

Most Gurus direct their followers to be free from sinful activities and encourage them to engage in devotional services. I have no problems with any such gurus, babas and sadhus... unless they are teaching hate... which they don't. I heard/viewed (as I was curios about Niraml Baba, a few episodes..) in all he was seen giving away very simple solutions and some were very nice suggestions like distribute samosa/ rasugollla to the poor etc!! There was no hate or preaching of discrimination etc. His followers are convinced his advice works.. so why are others so eager to prove it doesn't work? At least he is not asking his ardent followers to slaughter/sacrifice/क़ुरबानी (kurbani) of large animals like cows or camels!!!

Science is yet to comprehend our hearts and minds... till that time humans will continue to have this form of faith.. condemning or ridiculing is a foolish approach as all of us have such faiths.. it is only a matter of degree...
If one is expected to become very rational and scientific about every little beliefs, faiths, superstitions etc. it will not happen..it as old as human civilisation...

"A mind all logic is like a knife all blade. It makes the hand bleed that uses it. "

— Rabindranath Tagore

I recently came to know from some of the reactions from this easy... that while it is ok about faith etc. but what is unpardonable is "gurus should not take money etc in exchange of their 'advice', guidance, sermons, services etc"!!?
Concept of 'Gurudakshisna' is as old as human civilization. This is just naivety or blinkered vision/notion or just hypocrisy that these supermen/women are above the ordinary so they should not ask or take money!! Every form of organised/disorganised religion take money or in kind from its followers, every guru/god-man, darga, temple, church, gurdwara take money/donation from its followers... every healer, voodoo man, fakir, guru, sadhu, agony aunt/uncle et al receive money in exchange of their expertise, advise!!!
Most are very critical if they see gurus, sadhus, Babas amass wealth!! In the 80s all and sundry were critical of Osho, Sai Baba because of their money... and were prosecuted.. later Shankarachaya was humiliated and now Baba Ramdev and so on..
Looks like we want our gurus to be poor... even Buddha amassed a lot by begging/donation etc. and build his temples etc all over... this is how it works... Don't be naive..and say "we don't want them to get rich!!"
It doesn't happened that way, every guru amasses wealth.. from the rich and are suppose to use for the betterment of the society/poor etc.
Money has nothing do with this... no ashram/faith/religion exits without money!!
I have visited churches on Sunday... midway during the hour-long 'Puja' and sermon one of the fathers/brothers would go around the seated followers with a basket, wherein you may drop your offerings... same happens in all places of worship. Padres from the Church visit your homes before Christmas and Easter..and are paid for the few kind words and for their darshan etc.
The question is how this transaction is done!! In a civilized or ruthless manner... in a mater of fact or in hypocritical, round about way...
Here are some anecdote from my life...
Once when I took an aunt of mine from US to the Darga at Ajmer... she was going through a very bad phase... we were almost hijacked from the Ajmer railway stations by the "darga' agents and while my aunt wanted to pray and talk to some holy men, hear some soothing words at the Darga, relate her misfortune... But non were interested everyone of the holy men at the Darga would trust into her open hands some kind of old notebook... wherein you fill in your details and donate money... this continued in every noon and corner of the darga... everyone just flinched her off her dollars!! I also notice the plight of 'tourists'... especially from villages who had just came inside to have 'look-in'... the ever-energetic darga volunteers were rudely, aggressively, abusively order them to put in money in drop boxes... and when the naive villagers replied they have just come to 'see'.... they were almost pushed out saying "this not a place to 'see'... either you donate or just get out" etc!!
Is this a religious/spiritual experience? which so many crave to have?! I don't understand why we still go to such places.. 
Next after this disturbing experience we decided to go to the Pushkar lake.. for a 'peaceful' interaction with the almighty... The moment we came out of our taxi, the 'pandas' came in like bees!! Here I intervened and politely told them we didn't need their assistance etc. The 'god's salesmen' became pushy and said we cant do puja without them etc. I replied "We have direct connection with god"!! And need no middlemen!!" They left us abusing... we sat in front of the enchanted lake with a very bad taste in our mouths!! My poor aunt was still optimistic somewhere someone will heal her wounds.. Next we headed for Brahma Temple... one of the only two temples in whole of India!!
I approached Brahma Temple with trepidation... at the beginning of the long flight of steps we noticed a drop box (for donation) and flowers and prasad hawkers pleading us to buy offering for the God... But this was much smoother and less aggressively done than the 'chaadar-rose-petal-sellers, shoe-keeping hawkers at the darga, who were ready to kill.. if you went with (your shoes in your bag) or without the 'chadar-rose-petals!!
We bought some flowers, badasha and a coconut... and entered the temple... my aunt prayed without being pushed around for donation... we offered the flowers, coconut and badasha to the pundit...who showed no concern for any donation or asked us for any money.. he took our offerings and offered it to the deity, muttered some Sanskrit shlokas and brought back the offering to us... we walked out with our flowers, badashas and coconut intact!! This was 'our' prasad!!

Not all holy places are so aggressive in their collection methods.... many just use the hidden persuasions methods!!!

**The Christians every Sunday would go and line up in church and take communion or 'eat bread' (the belief is it's not bread and wine, it's Christ's flesh and blood) and we go to temples and drink "चरनामित्र"... if we sit down and analyse this: one is just bread..made from wheat/आटा..one is H2O with some sugar etc. but faith make us believe it will do us good.. why not make fun of that?!!

Pride & Paranoia: 'It is all God's gift.. nothing is mine..'

Pride & Paranoia

Intelectual Property, Copyright Laws, Privacy & Personal Space and all such... @#!$%!!

On the social media... I saw this very agitated discussion among some Western artists about some simple hearted Asian tourists taking pictures of Artists en plein air....
(artists/paintings being photographed by onlookers while working en plein air etc.)

I was amused and hurt...

Is this about our 'king size ego', that some of us carry on our heads? This gigantic weight of our art-aptitude-talent on our slender shoulders?
Or is it about privacy, space etc.?

In both cases I have divergent views.

The idea of Chinese/Indonesian or Taiwanese "tourist" travelling thousands of miles to Europe or America then tracing down "artists" painting outdoors and shooting their works... mind you these aren’t even finished!! Taking these back to Asia and making prints and earning huge profits!! Wow!!

Non of us are such great artists that we have to guard our works from anyone!! And anyway the Chinese* have great artists in their country with a rich tradition of painting!! All the great arts of the world are free for all of us to see, download.. get high quality prints or we get them in posters or coffee-table books etc.

You have to take it all...with a smile en plein air !!

If we do get admires etc. when we work outdoors (I would count myself lucky and blessed) we should be gracious and let them take pictures of our works etc... non of us are so great and grand that we need to worry... the ones who do; should paint in padlocked basements.. and never show their works to anyone free except those who buy tickets and are searched thoroughly for any electronic devices.. just in case their precious, priceless work of art lands in “those Chinese hands”!!

I have seen many such “great” artists on the Internet and on Facebook.. who would put a big 'copyright © water-mark' on their works!! Thus making their already ugly, amateurish works more unbearable!! My suggestion to them.. this is a visual medium.. and if you don’t want us to see.. use padlocks, high security set-ups and tickets as suggested earlier!!

Don’t think so highly of your work.. be humble...as we in the Orient always say.. “it is all God's gift.. nothing is mine..” that’s why many of us don’t even sign our works unlike in the West!!
If Mona Lisa, Sunflowers (Van Gogh), Lilies (Monet) and the great Oriental Artists' works are all available freely (for viewing, downloading etc.); we should not be so petty!! Remember we all have the right to view art free...we pay only when we buy.. or have to visits a museum.. some Museum are also free and some have certain days kept free for viewing etc. Many museums allow cameras too...
If someone does 'copy' our works.. it is a great compliment!! All Masters' are copied and one great artist copy another great artists' work.. or bases their work on other artist's work.. it has been done by artists since ages.. I do it all the time.


The Unknown Artist

When I got out of art college (early 1990) I use to sign my paintings in front, lower corner as just 'Roy'... paintings of that time 1986-92 would have this... then an Art College Professor pointed out "If you want to make a name etc. sign your full name, there are so many Roys around etc!!" I then started using my full signature ie 'Animesh Roy'... Post 1992-3 works would have my full name in front.

But I grew disillusioned by this urgent need to be recognised by our signature alone... and as I became aware and studied more of our traditions in Indian (and the oriental) art and culture I realised that in our traditional arts our artists do not sign at all... they remain humble, anonymous and would attribute all their skills and talent to Nature or God and their art as an act of devotion etc!! I have been inspired by this concept since then... and have stopped signing my name in front but I do sign (full name) all my paintings at the back/on the reverse side (for the record etc.)

My signature with other details on the reversed side of one of my works.
There are some contemporary artists who do not sign in front..over their painting. But I haven't met one yet. I am not against it but I see so many paintings spoilt by an ugly signature!! There are some who have used it very aesthetically like Claude Monet.. and some like van Gogh's are terrible!! Thankfully many of his works don't have his signatures!! Mine have been more of a protest.. while all rushed in with their 'style and signature' to earn name and fame... I wanted only my work to speak up.. and would boast: "In museums they put small plaques along side.. next to every work with all details..and there the art enthusiasts can see!!

I do get very surprised collectors.. who wonder why they don't see any signatures on my work?! Some walk away, some are very uncomfortable to invest.. on an artist without a name!!

Oil on Canvas
198x188 cm
78x74 inches
Oct. 2009

"An artist needn't be a clergyman or a churchwarden, 
but he certainly must have a warm heart for his fellow men."
― Vincent Van Gogh

"I feel that there is nothing more truly artistic than to love people."
― Vincent Van Gogh


* Some 'Painters/Artists' were getting paranoid with Chinese tourists photographing their works etc. with the assumption that these tourists have actually have been sent to shoot pictures of plein-air artists' works and go back and make prints on a commercial scale etc.!! and thus make millions off their genius!!

Grand dad of Henri Cartier-Bresson!!

Here's one more anecdote...
Another incident came to my notice on one of these social networking sites, Facebook. Tragic-comic!!
Due to simplification in this digital age everyone now has a camera... They are cheap and no more cost of films, developing and printing charges!!
Also the cameras are now much simpler to use. Any dummy can shoot. So we have these multitudes of photographers and photographs on these social networking sites!! They upload... get many 'likes' and slowly many turn into this ego centric artiste!! Grand dad of Henri Cartier-Bresson!!

One such 'Bresson'.. though I know he has never heard of Henri Cartier-Bresson... who happens to live in one of India's most 'photogenic' places... turned to taking pictures!!
Armed with a professional expensive digital camera he started shooting his city.
Anyone staying in such a place could almost effortlessly capture beautiful scenes, he of course couldn't!! But still his pictures would appears out-of-this-world to foreigner, outsiders...to people who live in a different world. It is indeed a quaint place. So this 'artiste' started to get many 'likes' and slowly he was now a 'wel-known photographer'!! Looking at his work anyone could see he had no idea of colour, composition or any sense or sensibility! It may sound cruel but then in art one cant be accommodating!!
Anyway after some years of 'fame' on Facebook, he recently, grandly announced his retirement!! He told his 'fans' is going to stop uploading his daily pictures!!
The step is most distressing to him but he has no choice as his works are getting out of hand..!! He has no patient or time to put copyright/ water marks over his 'work'! etc'
I don't know the exact reasons... maybe he doesn't want anyone sharing his pictures (?) or thinks people are downloading and printing them in 'coffee-table' books or making prints/posters and earning millions from his art!!

Picture of a Goat or something

Here's one more...
On Facebook some year back I witness this...
There was this pack of mongrels (young-educated-Indians) some 50 or more... viciously attacking a retired Indian air force officer... a Wing Commander!! His crime? "Content theft*"!! For a website he runs for his travel website!! Some picture of a goat or something!! There were abuse and insult, ridicule and trash talk for him... from boys young enough to be his grandsons... A generation growing up on an education (Borrowed and Copied)) which teaches them their 'intelectual property', 'copyright laws', privacy and 'personal space' and all such nonsense but no real wisdom!!A young generation aping ideas and ethos (Western?) without a humane touch...There is no respect for our Defence personnel.. What-so-ever!!Can a nation like this ever be great?!!*He may have inadvertently put or "shared" without giving credits..I know how a 'retired air force fighter pilot' lives... Hand to mouth!!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Art, Artist & Activism...

In the room the women come and go,
Talking of Michaelangelo. 
― T.S. Eliot

The sight of 'Artists', grossly overweight, in designer clothes, attending art shows, sipping cocktails... talking in gibberish English, everyday of the year! 

Sometimes I do miss that sight?!!

Who are these people crowding the art scene? They don’t smell of turpentine or linseed oil... their hands are clean and perfumed... Not the kind which has prepared clay or has ever picked up the chisel and hammer to sculpt...

Once upon a time an artist had a face, one could recognise― a face and a body evolved and tempered by his work. Now these bunch of sissies look they have come straight from the hairdresser to attend an Indian wedding!!

So who are these jokers?

These are actually members of a club!! A club meant only for the phonies, fakes and the pretentious... going around in disguise of artists, curators, art gallery owners, art critics, art connoisseurs, celebrities, pretentious buyers and collectors... they corner most part of the pie.. from government aids in form of scholarships, to getting lucrative art projects and large commission based works viz. murals, designing pavilions in trade shows, state sponsored art projects, art books etc. to shows around the world and getting gallery bookings (in public galleries) without waiting in the queue etc. They are visible on page 3 of daily newspapers or on TV, and they are regularly invited to attain art shows...

This leaves the rest, the ones who had talent, went to art college with real interest in art and have been working in their respective fields sincerely, to struggle on...

Art and artists have their share of problems... from non-artist pretending to be artist, hogging the lime light and the real talent getting sidelined; gallery owners duping young upcoming artists and art-critics writing praises for a bottle of whisky.. we have faced it all.. and continue to..

These self-appointed artists are so well-connected and entrenched in the society that they can easily get gallery bookings, get the media to advertise and most importantly influence the potential buyers into buying works from their curated shows.. and in return pocket a cut from the sale!! Some of these curators seeing the immense sale from art shows these days in India have now started to paint!! It is not difficult.. splash 'the-quick-drying-acrylic-paint' on large canvases.. get them framed well.. title the show with a bombastic name, write an incomprehensible account of the works on the catalogue.. hold mammoth a show..and you are a celebrity painter with everyone singing praises of your work and talent!! You have sold all your works at an exuberant price!! And next year the Government will take notice of 'your talent' and may buy some of your works for their Museums or Government offices etc. or send you to some foreign land for an art show!! You will heard telling all and sundry that you are 'an unique combination of being the first certified art curator of India and an artist'!!

I think the Internet has finally given 'us' a chance, a voice and a means to showcase our works and survive without selling our soul. We must utilize this medium and fight back... for we have nothing to lose but everything to gain by exposing these bunch of phonies, fakes and the pretentious.

Art can also be a medium of protest for just causes... Cartoons: Art of Protest... ideally who else, but an artist can do that well?!!  And artists can lead the society to a better life.. art can show the mirror image of the society we live in...

The cartoon has been reproduced here with the kind permission of © Manoj Kureel

We, the artist community face problems like any other.. Artists are part of the society and their participation in it is vital.. And in the present socio-economic condition of the world one shouldn’t be only attending art openings wearing designer wear and sipping wine!!

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