When I found the walls at the National Gallery of Modern Arts brandishing abstract works, which is my new-found area of interest, made by Australian tribals, I couldn't resist arranging a tryst. I'm dropping a quick post featuring some of my favorite works:

Don’t be satisfied with stories, how things have gone with others. Unfold your own myth. ~ Rumi

Most of the folklore that I keep posting on this blog is from what I can recall as far as my memory allows me to. I had a teacher back in school, Ms. Aryama, who used to teach us Sanskrit, and she oft-times talked about the mirroring nature of human beings; as to how humans are just like mirrors, and how our own behavior can go a long way in influencing the opposite person's reaction to your opinions and beliefs.

So, highly inspired from the saying that goes:
Be the change you want to see in the world. ~ Mahatma Gandhi.
She wanted us to behave in the same manner we wished our colleagues or acquaintances to behave in, in order to get them mirror our own spirit and soul.

I was a fan of this philosophy ever since, but the story she used to narrate this was rather weird, to like it or not, as I usually emphasize, is rather subjective, but the point here is it stuck, and that made all the difference.

A weird story, here goes...

nce a king wanted, as kings usually want, to do something substantial. We all seek an escape from oblivion; art, writing and architecture are merely some ways we can get any close.

He thus contemplated and settled on an idea of arranging a painting competition as a quest to find out the best painter in his kingdom. Time passes him by a few days and he decided upon two finalists that would, for a month each, stay in one of the palace’s luxurious halls as the king’s guest and spend their days painting to win, a prize, of course, and then their is, moral gratification.

But wait, what if they cheat? They could’ve looked at each other’s work because they were in the same hall and so the king decided to put a circular curtain around both of their work-spaces.

Thirty long days, it was autumn, the first painter could’ve been painting drawing conscious inspiration from the window he was near to. We couldn’t really guess what the second painter was up to, though, this guy was rather elusive.

The king walked up to them to decide upon which of the two masterpieces would hang behind the walls of the throne for the others to feast their eyes to. The first painter revealed his work.
Jaw dropping realism and attention was paid even to the minutest of details.
And when the second painter removed his curtains, every single soul present around was flabbergasted. Not a word was spoken for what seemed like eternity. Because what the second painter had drawn, was exactly the same as the first one! In fact, it was actually better.
The second painting had a characteristic shine to it that the first one lacked.

But, it was impossible to cheat! Was one of them sneaking around? Negative, the guards, who were appointed on duty to prevent this mishap, but apparently had failed, confirmed. The king, now confused, frustrated and baffled, took to inquiring the two. The second painter explained what had he been doing for the past month.
I didn't paint anything. All I was doing was polishing the surface I should've been drawing on. I kept on doing this till the curtains were lifted. My canvas, by now, had become a mirror. When this mirror witnessed the first man's work, and because the painting was a masterpiece and of great quality, it absorbed and embraced it.

Which tells us to...

Polish our inner selves to get them to be like mirrors, so that the next time we see a good quality, the mirror within us embraces it and the quality becomes one with our own self.

I was out on a walk with a close friend of mine, and it's a tale of that sultry evening in August, which you can only see getting any better when you're bitching about a common classmate that everyone hates.

But, hating is a strong word. And I say we don't usually hate things, ideas or even people. What we perceive as hatred may be just be something or someone that we don't understand. As for me, there was a point of time until which I couldn't appreciate art.

So, I tried to ask him into why'd he think that he hated that guy. Turns out that it was because he didn't even try to appreciate anyone. His remarks were always condescending (Oops!). So, even if my friend had burnt the midnight oil and came up with something outstanding (we're working on models made out of cardboard back then), he would come up to him and remark, "Sheesh! That's nothing to be proud of, anyone could have done that."

Appreciation, I said. How important is it?

Well, there's folklore...

nce upon a time, an old man, probably in his 70s, went up to a famous artist. His tired and weary eyes were devoid of excitement and his pale brown skin displayed some deep and prominent wrinkles.

This young artist, though, was at the zenith of his career, extremely skilled and flamboyant, which made him the best candidate to get an honest critique from.

The old man handed him some paintings he'd been working on the past few days while pleading him that he'll not be offended and he's seeking an honest review. The artist, held his intense stare at the works for a quite a while, and sighed deeply and said, "I'm sorry, but the man who drew this paintings has really no knowledge of what is art. I'm sorry."

To this the old man, took out some more works from his torn and worn out bag, and handed them out to the artist, "And what do you think about these?", and one could clearly see the artist's eyes gleaming with a newfound energy. "Wow! Amazing!", he almost jumped out of his seat.
These works are out of the world, whoever this person is, he could become an idol in this field of art, I'm sorry, but is he your grandson?
It was evident that the old man's eyes were becoming wet as he collected his work to put them back in his bag. He answered, almost as a whisper, for he couldn't bring himself to speak,
No, this is me, when I was my grandson's age. I had a natural flair for painting, but no one appreciated my work like you did today. So, I never continued. Only if someone back then said I was good, I could've been an artist extraordinaire.

Which brings us to...

Appreciation can make or break a person's life. And it can make you favoured for taking the time to value someone else's work. Beware, this is difficult, it takes courage to appreciate someone who's doing the same things you're doing, better than you are doing. Perhaps it makes you feel like it’s some sort of a competition. But this shouldn't stop you from appreciating someone. Or should it?

Lastly, when someone appreciates you, be sure that you're accepting it.

Appreciating art was something I wasn't always good about, it all came to me over these years as I went about studying artists and architects alike. But there's this thing around which I couldn't just wrap my head, abstract art. There's this guy named Mark Rothko who is into abstract expressionism. For instance, here's one of Rothko's works, Four Darks in Red (1958).

So, while one of my friends back at my university, School of Planning and Architecture, went about singing praises on how deep a meaning his works hold and how some of them are valued at millions (one of his work was sold for $87 million), I asked myself,
Isn't this something I can do, too? Or, for that matter, we all can, too? What actually is abstract art after all, painting swatches?
This was all happening while we're huddled together in a metro train slithering its way through the subways of the city while we're on our way to an art exhibition at Gallery Threshold (hosted by Ms. Tunty Chauhan) displaying Pandit Khairnar's works which were critiqued by Georgina Maddox.

While we waited in the metro, where the breeziness of air conditioned gusts flowed freely, my friend tried his best to convince me that abstract art can be though of as a stage or a level, and isn't a stage or a level that you can reach when you're just starting out in the field of art, because that's when you'd be testing the waters, and also that's when you're just naive. What made Rothko's work stand out were the fact that they were created by Rothko, because years of exploration has made him achieve a level on which you and me aren't at yet.

He even beautifully quoted Picasso!
There is no abstract art. You must always start with something. Afterward you can remove all traces of reality.
We reached where there was a hall, the walls of which proudly displayed works of Khairnar, and while I meditatively tried to engage in a conversation with the works of his abstractness, Pandit Khairnar stood there besides me, albeit silently and still, and it was his works which did all the talking.

Our brain is terribly wired. It forces me to look for forms even when I know I was looking at an abstract art, and so I could see dark patches in his work, which looked almost like spots in his paintings. On inquiring him, he said that they weren't intentional. It's just something that he had in his personality that he later found being transcended into his art. And that's when it struck me.

Beyond the abstraction of the celestial that he consciously wanted to portray, beyond the romance of day and night that he witnessed in the skies, there was a sub-conscious that sneakily made its way into his art forms, and that is what forms the aura of the whole artwork. And also that's the reason why I can't paint a square swatch and sell it for potentially millions, because as of now, my personality cannot descend into my work, it'll only comes with years of exploration.

I couldn't really have learnt this if I hadn't had the chance to see the artist and his works together. I asked him to pose against his favorite work, the one which he felt himself the most attached to, and it was this:

I'm grateful to Vandana Kothari Ma'am for this enlightening lesson and the wonderful insight that came with it.

We can't use erasers in our Graphics' Studio. It started when one of our professor asked us the difference between drawing with an ink-pen versus a pencil. Someone pointed out that while using pencils you could erase your mistakes. And this is how we were forbidden from using erasers, they say there are no mistakes in art.

Though it had much to do with the feeling a pencil could deliver; the soft graphite rubbing itself against the rough paper that we draw on, and also the varying intensities and thicknesses you can achieve with the pressure and the angle that you use, the question had me pondering over the actual fear.

What if is all it starts with.
What if I draw my pencil line a bit off?
The problem with our brains is that they are hard-wired to be protective. This, as an artist, can be hampering in our endeavors, but it does apply to other disciplines. Your brain actually keeps you from doing things that can be dangerous, in which case, even dangerous to your personality. Which, is actually good. You're protected by your brain from doing things that are morally wrong because you're a person who is good, who is usually right. But what it does interfere with is it prevents you from exploring, from doing things that you could've been doing.

For example, let's say that you're walking in a dense rain-forest. And you're lost. To add to the misery, you haven't had food since a day. There's a bush with a tasty looking red colored berry. It looks so perfect and delicious, you can't just resist having a bite. But, you've been told to not eat fruits which you have no clue about. So you go on to find a black berry which is familiar. You hate black berries, but you still eat it, because you're afraid to explore a new fruit. Your brain is protective.

It's definitely a one-sided argument that a reasonable person would eat the black fruit instead of a red one, but that's a story, a story when you're in a forest. This isn't a forest, right? Then why the heck are you, now, afraid to try out the red fruit?

From now on, just try to complete your what-ifs.
If my pencil line's a bit off, it wouldn't matter at all, because the person looking at my work wouldn't really know how had I intended to draw the line in the first place.
So, there wasn't anything to fear at all. I threw away my eraser already. Time for you to throw yours.

A few days ago, I found myself in a meeting with the GM, Finances for the Suwalka and Suwalka Group. He's a widely recognized name, and an outstandingly wiser man for that. As I got up, I couldn't help myself to ask him what his philosophy on life was. He gave a short albeit meaningful essence to his words. He asked me to,
Dream big. Dream on, but whatever you dream, never let it be small. Dream the biggest you can and you'll have nothing but success in your hands.
This reminded me of Clotaire Rapaille, a French marketing consultant, whom American corporations pay top dollar (read: $200,000 which is approximately Rs. 1,37,25,000) for correcting their marketing misdemeanors.

Dr. Rapaille was once hired by Jeep, the leading SUV manufacturer in the United States, to hunt down reasons for a rapidly declining revenue from sales. What he came up with, was a bizarre theory. He wanted Jeep to switch back to their earlier designs which featured circular headlamps instead of rectangular ones. Jeep executives agreed, albeit reluctantly, but thanks to the prodigy, the world once again saw sky rocketing sales from the automobile manufacturer.

I read an interview of him at PBS, which you can read here. He started out as a teacher, helping autistic children to learn to speak. When he was delivering a lecture at Geneva University, one of his student asked his father to attend it with him. At the end of the lecture, that student's father came up to him and said, "You know, doctor, I've a client for you.". And he said,"Is it a little boy, little girl, doesn't speak?". "No, no, this is Nestlé.".

Dr. Rapaille was taken aback, but he wasn't scared to live a dream, or as NY Times puts it, he was about to live a dream life which Freud would have envied. Nestlé had spent some of its time conducting surveys in Japan. They handed out free samples of coffee and asked consumers how they liked it. This had been going on for over an year now, and the reviews came out to be positive. Nestlé then decided it'd be safe to invest in the Japanese market and it started with them opening up cafés. Aghast, not a single Japanese soul was to be found wandering inside these newly opened coffee parlors. So, they had asked Dr. Rapaille for assistance.

According to him, marketing is all about gut-thinking. He tells us that when you're born, you're born with a reptilian brain, and after 7 years of age, we have in place the cortex, what most of us think of as being "intelligent". And it has been seen that children usually start learning a foreign language after 7 years of age, and yet they still continue to hold on to their accent. So, for example a child who has been brought up in wartime France, may learn the English language when he grows up, but his imprint of English would be different from a child, who's been brought up in a contrasting environment. If you're, thus, to create an imprint, it'll be best to do it before the cortex starts developing.

How could thus Nestlé expect a child who's been brought up in a culture which favors tea over coffee switch to coffee once he grows up. Dr. Rapaille told Nestlé to start selling sweets that were based on a coffee flavor, coffee flavored toffees and books for children that encouraged coffee drinking. Decades of careful execution of planning, led to wonderful results; between October 2015September 2016, Japan was the world’s 4th largest consumer of coffee.

What it took was dreams, and careful planning that spanned decades.

I can recall a story of a recognized female Indian voice. Those were the days when she was young and her career was starting off and she'd been doing shows on the Indian radio. This had given her enough fame already and this was perhaps the phase where you'd be figuring out how possibly could someone live while being under the limelight. Having booked a seat in the train, as she searched for her seat in the coach, an aged woman had already fixated her gaze upon her, contemplating, as to whether she was the same voice she had heard and seen so much about.

As the young talent took her seat, the aged woman called out to her and she said something on the lines of her confirming who the young girl was and then appreciating her.
The other day I heard you out on the radio. You sing beautifully. Almost every Saturday, I sit with my daughters and we hear you out. I know there are just 7 notes, but your voice, it feels as if you're searching for the 8th.
The young girl was flabbergasted on hearing this. She shied away, blushing and meekly denying that she isn't as good as she was portraying her. "No, no, ma'am...", was all she was saying. The old woman, as she was a wiser soul, scolded the girl.
When someone appreciates you, you should take it. Never deny someone's appreciation. Say something like "Thanks." or "I'm glad you liked it.". If you don't want to take it onto yourself, the best thing to say would be, "It's all God's grace."
It's absolutely okay to be humble, but denying of someone's appreciation isn't humility, it's the lack of self-esteem. 

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