Imagining Peace at the Colombo Art Biennale

I’m delighted to be a part of Sri Lanka’s first Art Biennale and grateful to Annoushka Hempel for giving me this opportunity.  50 artists are participating in the Colombo Art Biennale, displaying their work over 14,000 sqft of space. In addition there are 25 other locations which will act as satellites to the main event and have mini-shows. You can read more about the event on their website here.
CAB artists

The theme for this years biennale is “Imagining Peace”

Peace – to encourage peace between and within nations, communities, families and individuals.  This is not so much about showcasing Sri Lankan art; this is a project with a vision. This is to show the world that despite the fact that Sri Lanka is a seemingly politically, ethnically polarized society, artists can work together as collectives, a sign of peace in itself. “Imagining Peace”- Imagining that people can work together. Source : CAB Mission

I believe that for sustained peace we need to shake off the past and move ahead.  The lotus flower amongst other things symbolizes peace. It is a beautiful representation of the indomitable and pure human spirit that has the ability to rise above the mud and murky waters to bloom into its pristine beauty.  The prospect of peace, unknown beyond past darkness is just as thrilling.  This has been the inspiration for the piece “Rise above the Past”

Rise-above-the-Past
“Rise above the Past” 36″ X 48″ Acrylic on canvas.

Annoushka Hempel is curating the work of 3 artists including me and you can read more about it in this clipping which appeared in The Daily Mirror this morning.
Annoushka's 3

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DSfDFs : Portrait Challenge

Portrait Challenge

I’ve been a fan of Karin Jurick‘s paintings for a while now and have been lurking around her new blog Different Strokes from Different Folks since it started a few months ago.  But it was a portrait challenge that gave me the push to jump in and also the fact that we had 3 weeks to complete it. With all the travelling that I’ve been doing this time frame was crucial for me.

It’s been a great opportunity participating  in this portrait challenge and seeing all the fabulous work posted on her blog Different Strokes from Different Folks. It’s also been great putting faces to the names.

Painting and drawing have been going on since I last posted though at a slower pace than usual as I have been away from home for a while.  Now that I’m finally back, I’ll be posting more regularly.   Seeing all the fantastic artwork on DSfDFs has had me wanting to pull out my oils from where they’ve been lying neglected these last six months.  This piece, though, has been made using acrylics on canvas and is approx 12″ X 16″.  The paints were easier to travel with.

Back on track

P1080969

This may go through several iterations yet but I’m happy to be back on track and doing what I like best – painting portraits.   

The Asian Biennale has come to an end and today we went and picked up our paintings.  It felt good to have “Stop or Else!” safely back at home.  

 

“Responsibilities” 12″ X 16″ acrylic on canvas panel

13th Asian Art Biennale ’08

Stop or else!

The Asian Art Biennale organised by the Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy has been held in Dhaka since 1981.   A key art event in the region, it began with the aim of showcasing art from established and young artists portraying continuity and change.     The 13th Bangladesh Biennale is underway and I am delighted to have two of my paintings selected and one on display.

P1080579 P1080581

About the Painting (above)
Title : “Stop or else!”
Size : 24” by 30”
Medium: Acrylic on canvas

Tentative. Uncertain. Afraid.

Each of us has a boiling point and when we were younger we got there faster. Experience hadn’t taught us lessons of self preservation, forbearance, good sense or patience. Hot headed, hot blooded and extremely loyal, our actions took us to the point of no return and we made a stand for better or worse. Would it have made sense to deal harshly with us then? I feel bad when I read about tasers, lathi charges, rubber bullets and what-nots. Seems inhumane and unfair. Say No to violence against students.

ekla cholo re

About the Painting
Title : “Ekla cholo re”
Size : 24” by 36”
Status : SOLD
Medium: Mixed media on canvas

Sometimes, when there is a heavy load to bear, you have to walk alone.

This painting has been inspired by Tagore’s beautiful poem in Bengali, “Ekla cholo re” (walk alone) With apologies to Tagore. mostly translations do not capture the beauty of the original piece

Walk alone

If they do not answer to your call, walk alone,

If they are afraid and cower mutely facing the wall,
unfortunate one,
open your mind and speak out alone.

If they turn away, and desert you when crossing the wilderness,
unfortunate one,
trample those thorns under your tread,
and along the bloodied track travel alone.

If they do not hold up the light on that stormy night,
unfortunate one,
with the flame of pain ignite your heart
and let it shine alone.

Say a little prayer for me…

say a little prayer for me... with mat

I’ve been attempting to paint more than a portrait for the last few months but there is something special about this lady that has had me breaking that self imposed rule.   She’s been the subject of my paintings four times already in the last 3 months.   And I know that I’m not done yet! You can see the others versions here, here and here.   

She is the Tea Lady with a low open stall outside the entrance to a disused railway track.  She was selling tea and some eats and had one customer at the time the photographs were taken.   I like the fact that she is looking down and away as I find it easier to let my imagination run free when I’m painting.

The track later took us past a few shops and then a line of shanties on either side of the track leading to a dried fish market which is a popular addition to local dishes in Bangladesh.   Further ahead was Karwan Bazaar, one of the biggest wet markets in the city.  

Photograph copyright Anil Advani.  Used with permission.

Looking for a fare – 2

Looking for a fare - 2

Just like cabbies, the rickshaw wallahs stop right by you along the pavement, to check if you want a ride.  You will also find them parked in a line along lanes, like taxi stands.   Unlike other cities, the rickshaws of Dhaka are brightly coloured and decorated with a lot of care by their owners.   The men too dress in brightly coloured clothes as though the better they look the better their chances of attracting a fare. 

lfaf - 2

10″ X 12″ acrylic on canvas.

No man is an island

No man is an island

“No man is an island
No man stands alone”

In this swirling sea of colours as people were rushing purposefully to their destinations, one man caught my eye.  It was the contrast in the clothes he wore compared to the people around him.  The dullness of the colours.  By the simple act of dressing differently was he trying to distance himself from the crowd around him?  Sometimes we would like to believe that we can stand alone but the reality is that no man is an island.

12″ X 16″ Acrylic on canvas panel

Falling into place

Flower Sellers - final

My older sister has been waiting patiently, for a few years now, for me to paint her a piece.  Her only request was that it be bright and colourful.   Recently, she added that it also needed to be large as she planned to give it pride of place in her living room.  Earlier, last month from a choice of two she selected the smaller version of this piece and things finally fell into place.  It was fun working large again.  She is happy with the results and I should soon have a photo of it hanging in her house.   

“Flower Sellers”, 30″ X 36″ acrylic on canvas.  Photo ref copyright Manu.  Used with permission.

At the Market

At the market

This is the kind of market I remember from my childhood.  While I cant cope with the bargaining that shopping in such markets entails, its great to visit one once in a while.  Recently went to Karwan Bazaar in Dhaka with two friends to take some photographs to capture the hustle and bustle, vivid colours and the vitality of such markets.

12″ X 16″ acrylics on Canvas Panel.  Photo ref copyright Anil Advani.  Used here with permission.

I want to break free

A Womans work is never done

The words of Queens song by the same name have been playing in my head for a while now. I did want to break away from the way I was painting earlier. I didnt get to where I thought I wanted to be. Where I am now is more free (sometimes, like today) than before and I’ll be happy here for a while.

The title of this piece is “A woman’s work is never done”.  I’m at my sisters for a months holiday. She has recently had a baby boy. She also has a toddler who also wants quality time with Mummy. I see her on her feet all day and it seems to be almost all night. Everyday. It’s feeding, pumping, changing diapers, playing with the two year old, working and the list goes on. And she has help! This one is for all the women who look after their children, homes and also work. Hats off to them!

12″ X 16″ on a canvas panel.  Based on a Photo ref by Anil Advani.  Used with permission.