Born in 1956, is an artist, curator and writer. He has gained worldwide recognition and appreciation for his works through extensive participation in numerable exhibitions, shows, camps and other activities. Among his thirty-seven solo and thirty-four collective exhibitions, the recent ones include: “Symbols & Merveillies les Coulers de Inde” (Nice, 2009); “Enigmatic Scripture” (Munich, 2010); “Butterfly” curated by Prayag Shukla (Mumbai 2010); “Remnantes of Void” by Manish Pushkale (Australia 2010); “Rang-Leela” (Indore, 2011); at Red Earth Art Gallery (Baroda, 2011); at the Institute of Advanced Studies, Nantes (France, 2011); and Chennai Art Summit (Chennai, 2011). Mr. Akhilesh has also participated in one hundred and thirty-three national and international shows, the first of which was the ‘Inter- State- Art Exchange (Lucknow,1976), and the most recent one was “Contemporaries” (New Delhi 2011); and has been actively involved in a number of art camps, such as the Arts India Artist Camp (New York, 2005 & 2006), Kenya Artist’ Camp (South Africa, 2007), Art Summit Camp (Kolkata, 2008), Bhoruka Foundation Camp (Dubai, 2009); Turkey Artists’ Camp (Istanbul, 2010); and the Raza Foundation Camp (New Delhi, 2011). His works have been displayed in a number of shows curated by renowned curators such as Manjit Bawa, Prayag Shukla, Rm. Palanippan, Renu Modi, Gayatri Sinha, Kalpana Shah, and Manish Pushkale, amongst others. In addition to the above, he has also curated a number of shows, including one for the collection of Bharat Bhavan (Bhopal), and others for Tao Art Gallery (Mumbai), Art Indus Gallery (New Delhi), Aakar Prakar Gallery (Kolkata), Art Today Gallery (New Delhi) and Icon Gallery (USA). He is the founder member of “The Black Group”; has set up a ‘Museum of Police Bands’ at PHQ (Bhopal) and one on ‘Art of Malwa’ at Lal Bagh Palace (Indore); has delivered a lecture at Towson University (USA); has translated Mark Chagal’s autobiography in Hindi; is in the process of writing
artist MF Hussain’s biography; and has also edited the special issue of SH Raza’s Kala Varta. He has travelled extensively in India and abroad, and his artworks are part of several collections, both privately owned, as well as those belonging to reputed institutions, such as Jawaharlal University (New Delhi), National Gallery of Modern Art (New Delhi), the Queen of Iran (Iran), Asians’ Art center (USA), Embassy of Switzerland, Victoria and Albert Museum (London), Vidhan Sabha Bhawan (Bhopal), Peabody Museum (Boston), Mr.& Mrs. Chester Herwitz Collection (USA), and so on. Mr. Akhilesh is the recipient of several awards and felicitations in the field of art, including the Kalidas Academy Certificate Award (1976), Bharat Bhawan Biennial (1990), Government of India Senior Artist Fellowship (1994-1995) and Kala Kaustubh Samman (2006). He lives and works in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh.
Credo: For me painting is a game of Hide-and-Seek. I play with colours and most of the time I am amazed with the unfolding of a new colour tone. Colours show me the way to find myself through different perspectives. For me, the unfolding of a colour is the deepest essence of the painting.
Born in 1955, As a poet, you might have to consider the following; and this applies only to you, to the poet you and only you may or may not be, and given this dubious conjecture, by the nature of your calling, you’re nothing but a creature of self-doubt. If you’re in no doubt about being a self-doubting someone who may or may not be a poet after all, you can read on: You have no claim to language when you’re writing. No claim to the honey of words. You have already chosen to write in a language you barely know. You’re awestruck by anyone whose use of poetic language turns you even more ignorant than when you started reading that other’s text. You’re nothing but ignorance, doubt, darkness, but with a thirst for light, knowledge, that will be utterly denied to you. The less you know a word and the more ignorant you are about its underbelly, its potential for meaning, the more passionately you dance in your desire for it. What you long for is merely the sound of this word. Yes, the mere sound of this word is already unbearable joy. You sometimes imagine it’s a word hissing out at you from the garland of the Blue Lord. A word spoken by a very old and wise woman from your lineage. It can almost kill you with desire. Your body will burn seeking its other cheek, its other lip, and rest assured you will never be in contact. It’s not for nothing that a poet you remember by heart has spoken to you about words that sing things, not use things. And that every word ought to be dreamed before becoming poem. And yet how you long, O how you long to lose the human world, and to sleep the sleep of the stone. But you’re too entangled in those who make you write a poem. Or in those who you think make you write a poem. When will you really learn to spare a moment more for the lizard on the wall and for the red hibiscus to which the thin yellow butterflies have laid siege? When will you go lie down on pure mountains of thirst where, at last, you will forget what makes you try to write? Don’t you want to taste a moment of freedom from the all too human presence that casts a shadow on your page? Just because you think you speak the same language as he does? Go seek what is more than human, which in your ignorance you call non-human. You often say you’ve spent yourself in the labyrinth of the human mind, but it’s you who has made sure there’s a river in the frame of your window. And the blue-black hills with flocks of white birds. But you only despair and ask, ‘Is there no way out of the mind?’ In vain have you lusted after what they called solitude. Not to speak of being immersed in solitude, you’re not even alone when you shut the door on the world. Your voice will never know how to silence the screeching of your pen. Solitude is when you can hear your own voice with your mouth shut in the dream. Like the actors in the film India Song who appear in sheer silence on the screen facing a mirror and all they do is listen to their own voice from a distance. It’s only when you hear this voice, which is in tune with the flapping of wings, the waves crashing over the pebbles, that you’re able to sing without opening your lips. You have no ambition to be greeted on the street as someone who tries to write. No ambition to be recognized. You know that recognition robs you of your own voice, the essential solitude of the poet. But you do crave understanding, and not necessarily anymore of the one who still inspires you to write. You can now enter the meager and fragrant forest behind your hut with a poem humming in your limbs. The kingfisher might dive into your eyes and fish it out. Your poem might get reflected in water like the white bird walking on its crafty legs looking for fish. Like your sister living with a view over the Baltic Sea, you crave to be able to speak the way a plant might have spoken. But you’re getting there, poet of mine. You will yet die into the speech of the stone, if you let go of the love that entangles you too much in the human world. You will yet hear yourself speak like a dry leaf, if you let go. is a Hindi poet, painter, translator and environmental activist. She was a teacher of English literature for two decades at the University of Chandigarh, from where she resigned five years ago and moved to the township of Hoshangabad in central India on the banks of the river Narmada, where she devotes herself to writing, painting and translation full-time. As an activist, she has worked extensively in rural Madhya Pradesh at developing an innovative child centered pedagogy, and has supported the cause of the dam-dislocated people of the Narmada valley as well as the victims of the 1984 gas disaster in Bhopal. She has published five collections of poetry: Teji aur Rustam ki Kavitaen (Harper Collins, New Delhi, 2009), Maitri (Surya Prakashan Mandir, Bikaner, 2008), Ant ki Kucch aur Kavitayen (Vani Prakashan, New Delhi, 2000), Lo Kaha Sanbari (National Publishing House, New Delhi, 1994) Yahan Kucch Andheri Aur Tikhi Hai Nadi (Bharati Bhasha Prakashan, New Delhi, 1983); one novel called Neela, (Vani Prakashan, New Delhi, 1999); and a collection of short stories, Sapne Mein Prem ki Saat Kahanian (Vani Prakashan, New Delhi, 2009). Her poems have been translated into a number of Indian and foreign languages, including Swedish and Polish; has done readings and delivered lectures mostly in Scandinavian countries; and has been invited to international literary festivals in Finland, Norway, and Sweden. Ms. Grover is a recipient of the Bharat Bhushan Agrawal Award (1989), the Raza Award for Poetry (2003), and the Senior Fellowship from the Central Ministry of Culture. She was also the writer-in-residence at Premchand Srijan Peeth, Ujjain (1995-1997).
She is the language consultant for Swedish and Norwegian for the multiscript magazine Pratilipi, that provides a space for interactions between diverse sorts of writing and writers. Teji Grover lives and works in Hoshangabad, Madhya Pradesh.
Knut Hamsun’s novels Pan (2002) and Hunger (2004); with Rustam Singh, two plays, Hedda Gabler and Master Builder (2006) by Henrik Ibsen ; an anthology of 23 Swedish poets, Barf Ki Khushboo (2001) , Tove Olga Aurora, a collection of poems by Lars Lundkvist (2005). Also Ten Contemporary Norwegian Short Stories , (2008); a selection and translation of Swedish poet Ann Jäderlund (2009), and Mrityurog, translation of a novel by Marguerite Duras (2010). Mostly published by Vani Prakashan, New Delhi. Travel, festivals, lectures: Lectures and poetry readings at Oulu and Helsinki; at University of Stockholm and Uppsala University, Sweden; Jageillonian University, Krakow; several seminars and readings, as poet and\or translator at the Annual International Book Fair at Gothenberg, Sweden. In 2007, a 3- week residency at the Baltic Centre for Writers and Translators at Visby, Sweden. In 2008 readings at the Baltic Centre, Visby, Sweden, at their annual International Poetry Festival. The same year she read her poetry as part of the Olav Hauge Centenary celebrations at the poet’s birthplace (Ulvik) in Norway. October 2011, Poetry reading and exhibition of paintings, India-Fest, Trondhiem, Norway.
Solo Shows of Paintings
At the Institute of Advanced Studies, Bangalore, 2005, during an Indo-Swedish literary festival. During theInternational Poetry Festival at Baltic Centre for Writers and Translators, Visby, Sweden, August, 2008.
At the Olav Hauge Centenary Festival in Ulvik, Norway in September, 2008. In November 2010, Earth Colors, Jawahar Kala Kendra, Jaipur. Jo Nahi Hai, at Arpana Caur’s gallery , New Delhi, January 2011, to commemorate Shamsher Bahadur Singh’s birth centenary. Colors of Ladakh, during the India-Fest at Trondheim, 2011, Norway. Group show Palettes of Bhopal at JKK, Jaipur.
Group show at Kala Academy, February 2012, Goa.
Born in 1964, graduated with a National Diploma and Master’s in painting from Jiwaji University, Gwalior, in 1986. She has held ten solo shows at venues like Kala Vithika (Gwalior, 1987), Chemould Art Gallery (Mumbai, 1994, 1998 & 2006), Taj Art Gallery (Mumbai, 1996), The Gallery (Chennai, 1999), a Two-Person Show with S.H.Raza at Gallery 7 (Mumbai, 2001), and at Gallery Espace (New Delhi, 2007). In addition she has also been a apart of several group shows, including those at Deolalikar (Indore, 1986), Crimson Art Gallery (Bangalore,1989), Jehangir Art Gallery (Mumbai 1991-93), Lalit Kala Akademi (Chennai, 1994), Alliance Francaise (Bhopal, 1994), Mini Print, Galley Escape (New Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata And Chandigarh, 1996), Seven Young Artists from Madhya Pradesh, Art Indus (New Delhi, 1997), Palette Art Gallery (New Delhi, 2001), Art Today (New Delhi, 2002), Gallery Escape (Dubai, 2002), Gorbio (Paris, 2004), Galerie Muller & Plate (Munich, 2005), Tao Art Gallery (London, 2006) and Gallery Sumukha (London, 2006). Ms. Ghurayya is a recipient of the All India Kalidas Award (1985) and the Raza Foundation Award (2002), as well of awards by the South Central Zone Culture Centre, Nagpur, and Bharat Bhavan (1988), the All India Fine Arts and Crafts Society (1995), and so on. Seema Ghurayya lives and works in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh.
About her work : Seema Ghurayya’s paintings seem almost as if a sort of quietness and solitude has sheathed them, making each one seem to carry a deep and personal meaning. At first glance they don’t seem very striking or dramatic. These very contemporary works are an expression of the feelings that the artist has experienced rather than an effort to establish a connection and communication with the viewers. She has refrained from using any recognizable forms, and never links or refers to anything that has a natural appearance in her canvases. She has given up ostentation and lavishness, instead choosing light airy colours and very sparing strokes. She uses a color palatte that absorbs and compliments the geometrical lines and figures she etches onto the canvases. For subjects she chooses abstract and inexpressible things, like silence, lightness and freshness. Things that have no communicable form or structure, making her work also representative of an effort to give something intangible its first taste of expression through her visual vocabulary. In her serene and cool pieces, she gives form to the formless, and expression to things that could never have had any before.
Mango tress need not search for what they ought to do. They need not find what their swabhav is. They grow tall and produce mangoes. The same is true for guava trees. They grow tall and produce guavas.Tigers run after their prey and put their sharp teeth into their juicy flesh. They need not search for their dharma, it is woven into their biological being. They know it without knowing. But what about human beings? What are they supposed to do? What is he/she supposed to do? Not all can do the same thing. There is no instruction woven into biological beings about what they are supposed to do. Each has to find her or his vocation. And this journey of finding one’s vocation is a lonely one. Family or community may or may not help in it. Now that communities are in shambles, not much can be expected from them. As far as I know there is no fixed manual to find one’s vocation. Something happens in one’s life that makes one feel one’s vocation deep within oneself. This can either be some kind of accident or some kind of realization, maybe in dreams. Unfortunate are those who till the very end do not have such an occasion in their lives where they can, in a flash, realize what they are supposed to do. Long back Rilke suggested to a young poet he was talking to, to ask himself such a question late at night. But I feel the aimless wanderings of the youth (sometimes in the day, or other times in the labyrinths of dark or moonlit nights) are nothing but the question one is asking oneself about one’s vocation. I too asked myself such questions when I had not discovered the vocation suited to my swabhav. These were the days when I had the occasion to meet my three gurus. And then one evening it happened. Something which I was waiting for perhaps without consciously knowing that I was waiting. I was looking at a tree in an evening which was loosing its shine. Suddenly hundreds of birds flew out of that tree. The green serenity of the tree was suddenly replaced by the white fluttering of the birds and I heard a delicate voice reciting a line in, if I may say so, my inner ear. I rushed to get a pencil and in no time wrote a few broken lines on a piece of paper. Oh yes, here was a poem shinning like a cluster of fireflies on the messy paper. I cannot describe the closeness I felt with myself during those moments. I felt as if I had met some old friend after many years of separation. They were moments of great joy. No, joy is not the proper word. The proper word would be anand, an almost untranslatable word of Hindi and Sanskrit. They were moments when I felt as if there was no difference between me and the world, as if we had become one. As soon as I came out of those wonderful moments, I decided that this was the thing - I had come into the world to search for and write poetry! Gradually I found that poetry resides in many places. In prose, in cinema, in music, in dance and in other places. I tried to visit each of these places to the best of my capabilities. I wrote poems, short-stories and essays, worked with filmmakers like Kumar Shahani and my guru Mani Kaul, worked with theater-directors like Kavalam Narayan Panikkar. In every form I searched for poetry, for that pleasure, joy or anand that I felt when I found my first poem. In this journey my gurus, Mani Kaul, Nirmal Varma and Jagdish Swaminathan remained with me endlessly, making me aware of the fact that poetry lives in each breath of this immense world. In my short journey as a poet, more often than not, I felt that the Indian civilization has somehow (and perhaps somewhere) lost its poetry, or perhaps that its poetry has gone deep within itself and the modern systems are not allowing it to surface. I believe it to be my duty and pleasure as a poet, to search for the causes of such pain. This feeling has taken me to historians like Dharampal and to many other scholars and thinkers, and to a great extent they helped me understand the nature and origins of modern institutions. This is how I live and work.
CV: Udayan Vajpeyi (b.1960) is a poet and writer of short-stories, essays and translations. His published works include collections of shorts stories – Sudeshna, Door Desh Ki Gandh, Saatavan Batton; collections of poems - Kuchh Vakya, Pagal Ganitajna ki Kavitayen, Matmailee Smeeti Mein Prashant Samudra (translations of Japanese poet Shuntaro Tanikawa), and Vie Invisible (poems in French translation); essays and conversations - Charkhe Par Barhat, Jangarh Kalam, Patjhar ke Paon ki Menhadi, Abhed Aakash (in conversation with film-maker Mani Kaul) and Mati,Smriti aur Prajna (in conversation with historian, Dharampal). He has translated renowned Indian philosopher Ramachandra Gandhi’s book Sita’s Kitchen, as well as texts of Octavio Paz (Mexico), Borges (Argentina), Anton Chekhov (Russia), Shuntaro Tanikawa (Japan), etc., into Hindi. In addition to the above, Mr. Vajpeyi has edited many magazines and journals; has lectured on the arts and literature in India and abroad; has participated in various poetry festivals, including the Biennale nternational de poetes in Val-de-Maurne (France, 1997), Kavita Shati (Bhopal, 1999), and Marche de la poesie, (Paris, 2008) etc.; has written the scripts for many films such as Mithak Bhanga, Avantikatha, Virah Baryo Ghar Aangan Kaune, Asgari and so on; and has been invited as Writer-in-Residence to Lavigny (Switzerland, 2000) and Les Balles Etrangenres (France, 2002). Mr. Vajpeyi’s poems, short-stories and essays have been translated into several languages including Bengali, Tamil, Oriya, Kannada, English, French, Swedish, Polish, and Bulgarian, amongst others. He is a recipient of the Krishna Baldev Vaid Award (2001) and the Raza Foundation Award (2003). Udayan Vajpeyi lives and works in Bhopal.
Sujata’s work is rendered distinctive by the employment of text as an essential part of the composition. Her paintings breathe a story of dark undertones highlighted and accented by bold and vibrant reds and yellows to create a mesmeric melange. Her reflections and resources belong to the days of yore, to the Gita, Vedas and those of Kabir, among others. Spirituality and a seamless quietude and serenity are the common threads that bind her forms of articulation. Perhaps her mixed media speaks more emotively because of the porous nature of paper and the magic that she weaves into it. It has an incantation-like quality. If life’s energies are forceful there is also an exacting rigour in the manner in which she captures it. And a profound ethnicism asserts itself through underlying themes and hues, sometimes sharp, sometimes lively but always imbued with tender traces of Hinduism’s peaceful invocation: one cannot help but wonder at how she is able to translate a vivid and paradoxical demonstration of absolute modernity in her style.
Sujata Bajaj (b.1958) did her graduation and Master’s in art and painting from Pune, Maharashtra. An influence of tribal art and culture led her to a PhD in Indian tribal art, titled “The Special Features of Indian Tribal Art and its Influence on Contemporary Trends of Art.” She also studied at Ecole Nationale des Beaux Arts, Paris, on a French Government scholarship in 1988-89. Ms. Bajaj has held around twenty-five individual shows and over twenty international shows in India and has participated in more than a dozen group shows across the country and abroad, including in the U.K., France, Norway and Los Angeles. Some of her recent shows are as follows: “Fire and Water” (Chemould Art Gallery, Mumbai, 2005); “Sublimation” (Gallery Art & Soul, Mumbai, 2007); “The Journey” (New York Academy of Art (USA) and Saffron Art & Osborne Samuel-Berkeley Square Gallery (London), 2008); “S.H. Raza and Sujata Bajaj” (New York, 2005); “The Power of Peace” (United Nations, Bali); “Roop Vidhan” and “Swasti Roop” (Art Alive, New Delhi, 2005 & 2007); and “Symboles & Merveilles”(France, 2009), amongst others. She has also done several solo shows in Paris and Norway; and has given lectures on tribal art at Washington University (USA), Princeton University (USA), Commonwealth Centre, Edinburgh (UK), Ecole Nationale des Beaux-Arts (France), and so on. Her works are part of various national and international, private and public collections, across the world. Some of these are those of the Lalit Kala Akademi, Maharashtra State Collection, Air India, Philips India, World Bank, Indian Merchants Chamber, Solidaire International Marketing, and the Cultural Ministry of Norway, amongst others. Ms. Bajaj is the recipient of numerous awards including the Chancellor’s Award, S.N.D.T University, Mumbai, the Raza Award, the Bombay Art Society Award and the Maharashtra State Art Award. In addition she was also felicitated for International Youth Achievement by Cambridge University, U.K. in 1986. Sujata Bajaj lives and works in Paris.
She is a Canvas—bare, stretched ajar, milky, poised and pious—virgin and white. Of no memory, sans history. She is neither witness nor witless; neither finite nor indefinite. She accommodates under any flank and factor. Her white sparseness sometimes seems to be a focused contemplation in an eternal abode. Sometimes it looks like a burial ground of a holy body or heaven in the sky; like a greige of a widow or a shroud of a giaour. Sometimes pregnable, sometimes virgin. She is beloved. Neither formed nor amorphous. Neither by rite nor by revulsion. She is unique, abstractedly. Free from the arraying of acuity. With the realisation of creative disillusionment in it, I am confronting the canvas painstakingly and imaginatively—by absorbing and assimilating it within myself. Cognition makes you realise the presence of painting in it, only a morph of illusion is required for elimination. She is stimulated in my conjugation and her possibilities get activated in our union. The canvas is a labyrinth of entry and exit. I am locating the locus and the origin of painting in the frozen and still white of the canvas. Actually there is no left-right or top-bottom of a blank canvas. The painting in process decides its orientation on its own. However, what is there in this enduring white? The white of the canvas provides the site for anything to happen. Uncertain and mysterious. I feel my paintings are oceans of this composite white. Sometimes the painting concludes itself on the same white, like a return journey or after an excavation- replenished like before. Like the completion of a cycle. The residues are like foot-prints that suggest I passed from here once upon a time: indefinable memory of enduring white. What is this (un)known white? Am I a witness? The desire of returning from the white of the canvas to the present white becomes the symbol of a journey. The plausibility of the painting in the future - virgin white. An astonishing expectancy. A question to a canvas — is white-space like a sky in nature? Like a virgin membrane, a pristine sheen? And is realisation the first curtain of enigma? An invitation to step in invisibility? White: vanished tale of the visual. Variance. Alliance. Impervious White. The canvas is full of many questions. Never-ending. Experiencing white is tough, not easy. This is a process to innovate the unknown, not a killing of the known. With focused eyes the (un)perceived vanishes in white. I am her killer. She is my death.
Manish Pushkale (b. 1973) is one of the most highly regarded young painters of India today. He holds a Masters degree in geology from Bhopal. Without any formal training in art but with a powerful and sensitive initiation into it in the evocative environs of Bharat Bhavan in Bhopal, Manish has evolved a language of abstraction which carries his own personal imprint. Both his vision and artistic idiom have been growing fast, attaining amazing levels of maturity and significance. While his early training as a geologist is echoed in the organic texturality of his works, the meticulous choice of colors used to layer his works, and his method of applying and wiping off paint tangibly, invoke his complex meditations on asceticism - worldliness, renunciation - sensuality, presence-absence, dying-rebirth and so on. His works are delightful play of formal dichotomies like those of light-shade, mark-erasure, form-formlessness, restraint-excess, control-indulgence, and have matured to a level that confronts and assimilates all these oppositions to achieve a state of refined harmony. Mr. Pushkale has fifteen solo shows to his credit at several prime galleries in and outside the country, and he has participated in almost seven hundred group shows in India and abroad, along with five two-man shows, an idea of jugalbandi between two painters. He is a recipient of the AIFACS Award, the Ministry of Culture’s Junior Research Fellowship, the Artist-in-Residency from the Governments of France and Italy, and the Reliance group, the Kala-Kaustubh Samman, the Spandan Chitrakala Samman and the Raza Foundation Award. He is a Raza Foundation trustee and a member of Garhi Studio selection committee, Ministry of Culture, and a member of the Executive Committee of M.P. Foundation in Delhi. Mr. Pushkale has established “Vaid Samman” an annual award in the honour of Shri K.B. Vaid, a legendary fiction writer of Hindi. This award has already been conferred upon Shri Dhruv Shukla, Shri Uday Prakash and Shri Anupam Misra for their contribution to Hindi literature. Manish Pushkale lives and works in Delhi.
For me a line is a living unit full of limitless possibilities. It is self-form. In my drawings the lines maintain their basic liner character and my forms are also linear. My shapes and forms are not surrounded by the lines. In fact, they are left independent and given an infinite form.
Yusuf (b. 1952) completed his National Diploma in fine arts and sculpture from Gwalior in 1974 & 1978, respectively. He has exhibited his artworks through twenty-eight solo and fifty-four group shows across the country, in prominent institutions such as the Dhoomimal Art Gallery (New York, 1986), Chemould Art Gallery (Mumbai, 1989), Art Heritage (New Delhi, 1990), Rashtriya Lalit Kala Kendra (Bhubaneswar, 1996), Jehangir Art Gallery (Mumbai, 1998), Gallery Shes (Japan, 1998), Gallery Tokeida (Japan, 1998), Art Indus (New Delhi, 2000), Bharat Bhavan (Bhopal, 2001), Tao Art Gallery (Mumbai, 2004), amongst others. His shows include the Bharat Bhavan Inaugural Show (Bhopal, 1982), “Fine Arts from Madhya Pradesh” (New Delhi, 1987), “Indian Eclectics” (New Delhi, 1989), “International Show Comart” (Korea, 1992), “The Art Trust Collection” (Mumbai, 1994), Bangladesh Biennale (Dhaka, 1995), International Print Triennial in Kanagawa (Japan, 1998), Surya Gallery 6th Anniversary Exhibition (Hyderabad,1998), “Black & White” (New Delhi, 2000), “Kleinsassen” (Germany, 2001), Asia Print Adventure (Japan, 2003), Gallery Art & Rugs (Gurgaon, 2003), and a show with Habitat Gallery (New Delhi, 2004), to mention a few. Mr. Yusuf has participated in many art camps, including the All India Sculpture Camp (Gwalior, 1974), LKA Graphic Camp (New Delhi, 1977), All India Artists’ Camp with LKA (Bhubaneswar, 1980), Painters Camp by J&K Academy (Srinagar, 1985), All India Artists’ Camp (Manipur, 1990), International Painters’ Camp (Goa, 1991), and so on. His artworks are parts of numerous privately and publically owned collections in India and abroad. These include institutions like National Gallery of Modern Art (New Delhi), Lalit Kala Akademi (New Delhi), Bharat Bhavan (Bhopal), Cancer Hospital (Gwalior), Nag Foundation (Pune), and NCZCC (Allahabad) in India, and private collections in India and abroad, in China, Japan, France, U.K., UAE & Turkey, amongst others. He has collected folk and tribal arts for Roopankar Museum, Bharat Bhavan, Bhopal; has been a Member of the Executive Board of LKA; and has been invited, to deliver a lecture on “The Asian Spirit” organised by Hokkaido Museum of Modern Art (Japan); by the Turkish Government, the Asia Print Adventure Committee in Japan, and the French Government; and has also contributed articled to several art magazines. Mr. Yusuf has been honoured with many prestigious awards some of which are the MP State Award (1977, 1980 & 1981), State Raza Award (1984), All India Kalidas Award (1977), National Award LKA (1987), Shikhar Samman by Dept. of Culture- Govt. of M.P (2001), etc., as well as awards at the International Asian European Biennial (1990), and the QIONGDAO International Print Biennial of China (2000), among others. Yusuf lives and works in Bhopal.
My work originates from the crafts and spiritual ceremonies of India. Craft is related with our routine, and spiritual ceremonies are other worldly. It is in this way that my soul is connected with my work and the soul of my work is connected with the soul of the world.
Smriti Dixit (b. 1971) completed her B.F.A. from Maharaja Sayajirao University, Baroda, in 1994. She has held nine solo exhibitions of her works, including those at the M.P. Kala Parishad (Bhopal, 1992), Apparao Gallery (Mumbai, 1999 & 2002), Art Musings (Mumbai, 2004), “Stitching Together” (Aicon Gallery, Palo Alto-USA, 2006) and “Exile from Symmetry” (Art Musings, Mumbai, 2007). In addition, she has also been a part of many group shows in India and abroad, such as a show by IFACS (Delhi, 1992), one with Dhoomimal Art Gallery (New Delhi, 1994), Bharat Bhavan Biennale (Bhopal, 1996), Vadehra Gallery (Delhi, 1996), Directions-The Art Gallery (London, 1997), and Cymroza Art Gallery (Mumbai, 1997). Other shows include “Tribute to Picasso” (The Guild, Mumbai, 2002); “Solitude” (Visual Art Gallery, Delhi, 2003); “Exhibition of Paintings” (Art Musings, Mumbai, 2004); “Abstract Visions” (Gallery Plate and Mueller, Germany, 2005); Confluence 2006”; (Gallery Arts India, USA, 2006); “Roop Adhyatma” (Bodhi Art Gallery, Delhi & Singapore, 2006); Tao Art Gallery (Mumbai, 2007); Miami Art Fair (USA, 2007), Singapore Art Fair (2008) and a show with the Aicon Gallery (USA, 2008). Smriti Dixit received the Raza Foundation Award in 2003. She lives and works in Mumbai.
Madan Soni (b.1951) has published a number of books on literary criticism, including: Kavita ka Vyom aur Vyom ki Kavita, a critical study of the Post- 60’s Hindi poetry; Vishyanter, a collection of critical essays; Kathapurush, a critical study of Nirmal Verma’s fiction; and Utpreksha, a collection of critical essays. He has edited an anthology of Hindi love poetry called Prem ke Roopak, a selection of Ashok Vajpeyi’s poems, a collection of three poets’ works called Hona Shuru Hona, and “Poorvagrah,” a quarterly magazine of literary criticism published by Bharat Bhavan, Bhopal. In addition, Mr. Soni has translated several texts from English to Hindi/Bundeli, some of which are Taming of the Shrew (Shakespeare), Caucasian Chalk Circle (Brecht), Yerma (Lorca), Narrow Road to the Deep North (Edward Bond), Representations of the Intellectual (E. W. Said), The Name of the Rose (Umberto Ecco), and numerous other theoretical writings by authors like Jacques Derrida, Jean Baudrillard, Frederic Nietzsche, Octavio Paz, and so on. Based on his extensive work Mr. Soni has been honoured with many awards, including the Nand Dulare Vajpeyi Puraskar, Devi Shankar Awasthi Puraskar, and Senior Fellowship from the Department of Culture, Government of India. He was also the first recipient of the prestigious Devi Shankar Awasthi Award. Madan Soni retired as the Chief Administrative Officer of the Bharat Bhavan, Bhopal. He lives in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh.
Pandit Mukul Shivputra
Mukul Shivputra : Music itself encompasses so many arts! There are no words without letters; there are no bandishes without words. Music and sahitya are one and the same. When I worship the swaras, I first understand the meaning of the bandish completely and then call to the swaras accordingly. Thus, I study sahitya along with music. Raag-vistaar is essentially the sadhana, upasana of a raag, even one’s plea to it. Some singers say they present their thoughts through raga. How is this possible? It is already done before you present the swara! What Kumarji used to stay was true: the swaras in a raag don’t present themselves before you unless you request them to come forth. When the swaras feel that your plea is genuine, they present themselves in all their glory. But this doesn’t happen every time.
Pandit Mukul Shivputra (b. 1956) is a Hindustani classical vocalist of the Gwalior Gharana and the son and foremost disciple of Pt. Kumar Gandharva. Born in Bhopal to Bhanumati Komkali and Pt. Kumar Gandharva, Pt. Shivputra took to musical training early on from his father. He continued his musical education in dhrupad and dhamar with Pt. K.G. Ginde and in Carnatic music with M.D. Ramanathan. Since his teens he regularly accompanied his father on the tanpura for vocal support. In 1975, then known as “Mukul Komkali,” he debuted his first performance at the 23rd Sawai Gandharva Music Festival, being the first in his generation of singers to debut at the prestigious venue. Besides khayal, Pt. Shivputra sings devotional and folk songs. He has many Sanskrit compositions to his credit and has experimented with the setting of Sanskrit lyrics to music. He lives and works in Dewas, Madhya Pradesh.
Each of my paintings announces and asserts itself with emptiness and silence. I perceive unceasing pulsations in paintings, as novel thoughts come teeming with inhaled wafts. A vibrant living, confirming my aliveness. A rhythm gliding through a river stream, in quietude of forests and sultry afternoons. My paintings offer neither technique nor idea. A painting is an essence of cumulated experiences and manifests itself in its innateness..
Yogendra Tripat hi (b. 1965) received his Master’s degree in painting from the Indira Kala Sangeet Vishwa Vidyalaya, Khairagarh, in Chattisgarh. He has held ten one-person shows and more than sixty group shows across India and abroad. His solo shows have been held at Nehru Art Gallery (Bhilai, 1988), I.I.C. Art Motif (New Delhi, 2006), Nehru Art Gallery (Bhilai, 2005), Tao Art Gallery (Mumbai, 2004), Zen Gallery (Bangalore, 2001), and Art Indus (New Delhi, 2000), amongst others. His group shows include “Harvest- Unwinding the Threads of Tradition” (Arushi Arts, New Delhi, 2009); “Contemporary Indian Art” (Art Motif, New Delhi, 2009); “From the Man of Flying Colours” (Modern Art Gallery, Bhubaneswar & Nehru Art Gallery, Bhilai, 2008); “On Their Own” (Aakriti Art Gallery, Kolkata, 2007); “Art Pilgrim” (London, 2007); “Absolute Abstract”(Ati Art Gallery, Bangalore, 2006); “Abstract Group Show” (Art Gallery, New Delhi, 2005); “Tao Of Shiva” (Tao Art Gallery, Mumbai, 2004); “Lokrag” (Art Pilgrim, New Delhi, 2002); “Similarities & Dissimilarities” (Tao. Art Gallery, Mumbai, 2001); and group shows at London, Indore, Bhilai and New Delhi (1999). In addition to the above he has participated in numerous national exhibitions; has attended many artists’ camps, and has been a jury member for the National Art Exhibition by Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi, 2009. Mr. Tripathi is a recipient of several awards including the State Award from the Madhya Pradesh Kala Parishad (1999), the National Award by Lalit Kala Akademi (2002), and the Raza Foundation Award (2004). Yogendra Tripathi lives and works in Bhillai, Chhattisgarh.
Sitting in my room and looking out of the window I am watching green leaves dancing on the tree. Every leaf is dancing in a different manner and still in the same direction, so that we can understand and feel the presence of the wind and its direction, just like dance and the dancers. All the dancers on this planet dance in their own way, with or without their own music and still in the same direction of expression. We all want to express as much and as loudly as we can. Dance, as I always believe, is the first ever expression (or one can say the language) of humankind, through which he or she could talk. It’s strange that from our birth till death we just want to say something, through whatever medium or idiom we select. I am a dancer. Dance is my language. At this point of time and age I can easily say that dance guides my life. Whatever I do, it comes out as another experience for my dancing expression. Dancing is not just a learned skill, but when a dancer dances he or she dances with full awareness of their body and mind. This awareness comes through practicing dance, because one has to practice so regularly and repeat thousands of times the gestures, foot-work, movements, expressions, etc., so that all these movements can become natural. And in this exercise the dancer has to be aware of each and every limb of the body, to forget the whole body while dancing, and then only, can one see the dance instead of a dancer. What else is Sadhana ? Prerana Shrimali a senior dancer of the Jaipur gharana of Kathak, received her training in dance from Guru Shri Kundanlal Gangani. Having mastered the complexities of the Jaipur style with her grace, innovativeness and imagination, she ranks amongst the most illustrious and reputed classical dancers of India today. Equally competent in pure dance (nritta) and abhinaya (expression), Ms. Shrimali has endeavoured to expand her Kathak repertoire by choreographing new and highly acclaimed compositions based on poetry, ancient, medieval, and modern; and by exploring verses of Kalidas, Amaru, Meera, Kabir, Padmakar, Ghalib, the French poet Yves Bonnefoy, and others. She fuses lyricism in virtuosity, blends expressiveness with new insights, invents new gestures, and intensifies her abhinaya with subtle imagination. She firmly believes in the open-ended possibilities that Kathak offers, particularly of new and complex experiments within the tradition, and also believes that experiments must not be ephemeral but should survive in tradition itself. Widely travelled both in India and abroad, she has featured in all the major dance festivals in India, such as at Khajuraho and in many international festivals, such as Festival D’Avignon, France. She taught Kathak in Delhi for many years; has written on ‘Kathak and Abstraction’ for which she got a Senior Fellowship from the Government of India; and has worked as the Repertory Chief of Kathak Kendra, Delhi, for two years. She is a recipient of the Rajasthan Sangeet Natak Akademi Award (1993) and the Central Sangeet Natak Akademi Award (2010). Prerana Shrimali lives and works in Delhi
Both my criticism and translation have been my flying arcade games. I inhale and my chest expands. I reach out and I feel fuller. Looking into somebody else’s creation, deconstructing or translating it, has always been very satisfying. What is writing if not the ‘criticism’ of life and also the tentative ‘translation’ of words and half-ideas that float inside you? ‘Critical’ and ‘creative’ are Siamese twins and each utterance is a translation – either of your own bhoorjpatra or somebody else’s. I don’t see a chasm there. Aesthetics and ethics are also Siamese twins. Things that are aesthetically frustrating are ethically repulsive too – violence, for instance. In most of the cases, aesthetics and ethics, the critical, the creative and the translational blend well. Like Enid Blyton’s Famous Five, they make a gala group when they venture into poetry – anybody’s poetry!
Anamika is a writer, translator, teacher and reviewer of poetry. She teaches English literature at Satyawati College, University of Delhi, and has done her doctorate on Donne Criticism. She has published widely on feminist poetics, contemporary poetry and gender issues in books on feminist discourse such as Kingfishers Catch Fire (Research and Publishing House, New Delhi, 2007); American Women Poets: Their Treatment of Love and War (Anamika Publications, New Delhi, 2000); Streetewa ka Manchitra ( Saransh Publications, New Delhi, 1999); Man Manjne ki Zaroorat (Samyik, 2006); and Patthar jo Pani Peeta Hai (Prakashan Sansthan, 2006). Her first two poetry collections, both of which are out of print now, were called Hanging Prisons and Ghalat Pate ki Chitthi, respectively. Later poetry collections included Beejakshar (Radha Krishna, 1989), Anushtup (Kitab Khar, 1995), Khurduri Hathlliyan (Radha Krishna, 2005), Kavita mein Aurat (Itihaasbodh, 2004) and Doob-Dhan (Bhartiya Jnanpeetha, 2007). In addition to the above she has also edited and translated two volumes of feminist poetry for Intihasbodh and Sahitya Akademi; has translated a volume of Rilke’s poetry for Sahitya Akademi; and a volume of Les Murray’s poems for Katha. Ms.Anamika writes a column in Jansatta, and is also a trained Kathak dancer. She is a recipient of several national awards including the Rashtrabhasha Parishad Award (1986), the Bharatbhushan Agrawal Puraskar (1995), the Sahityakaar Samman (1996), the Sahityasetu Samman (2000), the Raza Foundation Award (2004), and the Kriti Samman (2005), amongst others. Anamika lives and works in Delhi.
Rahim Mirza : Any work of art in its analysis is subject to a number of interpretations. In my work, japa painting, the japa of leaves series attempts a new expression. My paintings do not merely appease the aesthetics but aim to transcend it. The concentration of japa expresses my own being. While painting I feel a sense of meaningfulness. This meaningfulness I am able to experience at the threshold of Sufi dargahs. Still, I feel, that I am not yet able to paint what the divine has bestowed me with as his charity and grace.
Rahim Mirza (b. 1969) did his specialization in graphic print making from Bharat Bhavan in 1996. He has held his solo shows at Mumbai in 2006 & 2000; New Delhi in 2005; Hyderabad in 2002 and Ahmedabad in 2001. He has participated in several group shows in India and abroad; and has received the Junior Fellowship and National Scholarship from the Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India, New Delhi. His other accolades include the Raza Award (1995), AIFACS Award (1996), the Madhya Pradesh State Award (1997) and the Raza Foundation Award 2004). Rahim Mirza lives and works in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh.
Sanju Jain : When I face the blank canvas it’s like a piece of the clear azure sky. One has to make it land on the earth and create one’s own unknown world on it. When I’m with the canvas all reconceived notions desert me and I simply follow the path the canvas shows me. I’m bereft of all knowledge and lose awareness of my desire for inquiry or investigation. My life is a voyage into art, I’m only a traveller keen on seeking my own joy. Painting makes me encounter newer forms and these forms enter the doorway of the eye only to illuminate my heart. I drift away from attachment, from jealousy. These forms make me introspective and bring me immeasurable joy. My paintings create playful forms that dissolve forms. They are imbued with elements of nature, of spirituality, and of my own beliefs. In any case the forms of my canvas restlessly seek to go beyond the outline of the canvas. They don’t wish to remain confined within parameters. Immersed in ecstasy, my colors rest on the canvas while diving into the sky, and it is these colors that form the robes of my canvas.
Sanju Jain received her Master’s degree in painting from Indore. She has gained worldwide recognition and appreciation for her works through extensive participation in numerable exhibitions, shows, camps and other activities. Among her several solo and collective exhibitions, the major ones include “Blue Butterflies”(Gallery Studio 16, Texas, 2011); “Amdabadni Gufa” (Ahmadabad, 2011); “Art for Art’s Sake” (The Art Gallery, Gurgaon, 2008); “Art Heritage” (Triveni Kala Sangam, New Delhi, 2007); “Heart and Soul” (Delhi, 2004); “Six Women Show” (Bhopal & Ujjain, 2000); a show with Jehangir Art Gallery (Mumbai, 2000); and at Bharat Bhavan, Parliament Banquet Hall, Lalit Kala Akademi, Kanishka Art Gallery, Jehan Numa Art Gallery, and so on. She has participated in a number of art camps, and her artworks have been collected by several reputed institutions, such as Madhya Pradesh Vidhan Sabha (Bhopal), NCZCC (Allahabad), Officers Mess Attract (Shimla), E.Alkazi- Art Heritage (New Delhi), Madhyam-Mural (Govt of MP), Rashtriya Lalit Kala Akademi (Bhubaneswar), Archaeology Department (Madhya Pradesh), and many other private collections in India and abroad. Ms. Jain is a recipient of several awards and felicitations including the Raza Foundation Award (2005), the 6th All India Camlin Award (Mumbai), the 68th Indian Academy of Fine Art Award (Amritsar), the All India Kala Akademi Award (Shimla); the 3rd All India Lokmanya Tilak Award (2002), the AIFACS State Award (2002), the State Award (2001 & 2000), the Raza Award (1998) and the Kalidas Award (1989). Sanju. Jain lives and works in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh.
To be a poet is to experience this world in its melancholic aspect. One is embedded in it a bit too roughly. Yet there is no desire to know it in its entirety; completion often deludes me and the fact that poetry in its sublime moments promises such an achievement, renders me even more recarious within. It stands as the only witness though in the nights of fragile longings and watches this world in its mortal ebbing, almost every night. I often pray to my thoughts then to come barefoot, make as little noise as possible, just enough for words to know whatever is going on. Our world is so rapped up in its wickedness, in its relentless desire to crush what is beautiful and feminine, what is robust and just, that one would like to have the company of poetry to denounce it, resist it and practice sufficient intolerance to overturn it.
Often through the reality of dark nights, I have called upon poetry and have travelled wide and narrow paths of dreams to pick up stones. There are just so many of these nights in my experience that I can say more or less safely that I know darkness as well as I know myself. And poetry knows both of us so inescapably that we do not resist her. We resist our oppressors though, every moment. Nothing is more precious than this existence and its plenitude. There is no burden of redeeming yourself here, just to “be” as words have their being in sentences. This universe then as “trillions of such sentences” is a place of pleasurable wondering, however baffling in its complexity. I have often wondered what Borges might have thought of this world if he had sight. I write poetry to create more sentences…to fathom light as much as darkness; to sleep with night and impregnate myself with her dreams which few know, but that is how poetry is born. I beget what I love. I write to fill this world with beautiful and sensible nouns and pronouns: verbs, adjectives …hidden lights of Borges’ eyes, and create syntaxes that function as reality, slightly elevated. My poetry is the most reliable shred of my torn up overcoat. I least fear writing. I suffer being silent.
Savita Singh (b. 1962) did her Master’s and M.Phil from the University of Delhi and went to McGill University, Montreal, for higher studies. She wrote her PhD thesis on “Discourse of Modernity in India: A Hermeneutical Discourse.” During her stay in Montreal (1987-1990) and London (1991-92) she wrote poetry in English and published in journals such as “Critical Quarterly” and others. She moved back to India in 1992 and published in “The Journal of Poetry Society of India” and “Indian Literature” (Sahitya Akademi). She made her mark with the publication of her first Hindi collection Apne Jaisa Jeevan (A Life Like its Own) in 2001 to the wide acclaim of fellow poets and the literary critics. The collection received Delhi’s Hindi Academy Award in 2002 and ran into a second print. Her poems have been appearing in all the reputed magazines and journals of Hindi and English and have been translated into Marathi, Gujarati, Maithili, Urdu, French, German, Spanish and Dutch. Her second collection entitled Neend Thi Aur Raat Thi (There was Sleep and there was Night) appeared in 2005 confirming the reputation of the first collection and deepening her position as a feminist poet more assuredly, and won her the Raza Award in 2005. Her bilingual collection of poems (Hindi and English) with Sukrita Paul Kumar entitled Rowing Together appeared in 2008 and also the other bilingual collection (French and Hindi) je suis la maison des` etoiles in 2008. A poetry collection of seven women poets of five continents, Seven Leaves, One Autumn, appeared in 2010, as did a collection of Fifty Representative Poems for the New Century. She has also published her short stories of which Alas! Lebanon, in particular, received critical notice. Currently she is working on her collection of short stories and three manuscripts of meditative and explorative prose at different stages of completion: Political Theory in India- A Hermeneutical Exploration, Fathoming the Depths of Reality (with Roy Bhasker, London) and Alternative Modernity in India (with Prof. Manoranjan Mohanty and Thiago Reis, Brazil). She is also working on the UGC’s Major Research Project, “Household and its Labouring Women: Valuing and Measuring Domestic Labour in India,” and is interested in feminist politics and epistemology, Indian modernity, and women. Savita Singh is Professor and Director, School of Gender and Development, India Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU), Delhi. She lives and works in Delhi.
Coming from the syncretic cultural stream of India, rooted in plurality, I want my works to reflect the spirit of a tolerant shared world, welcoming absorption of diverse ideas without aggressive conversion. In a postcolonial context, though aware of the global environment surrounding my practice, I would resist an easy homogenization of cultures in such an important negotiation. Over the last decade I have developed a visual alphabet using materials like text, plaster, sand, leaves, nails and sound, to create works which are imbued with restrained undertones of protest and the many revolutions taking place in our lives. The relief paintings are abstract so that they can distill several layers of meaning and possibilities and not merely be derived from a form. Sometimes, I leave these pieces outdoors to involve nature and the fortuitous element of chance in their making. The script, the sand, shells, torn drawings embedded in bleached cracked surfaces are all meant to evoke a sense of countless journeys, in our heads, in seasons and through places; a churning of unfathomable sea waters, the challenge of the crossing and then the inevitable return.
Saba Hasan Saba Hasan did her Masters in cultural anthropology from Delhi University (1985) and Ecole d’Arts Visuals Academy, Switzerland (1998), after which she went on to study at the Art History Summer School, Cambridge University, UK (2000). She also received the fellowship for Culture Studies from Syracuse University, New York in 1986. Ms. Hasan held her first solo show at the India International Centre (New Delhi,1996), and went on to participate in several other solo and group shows both in India and abroad. Some of these were as follows: “Colour Bulwark” (Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi, 2000); “The Written Word” (Apparao Galleries, Chennai, 2004); the Florence Biennale (Italy, 2005); “Letters from Baton Rouge” (Paris, 2006); “Indifferent History” (Cymroza Art Gallery, Mumbai, 2007); “Art for Freedom” (Bonham’s/ Asia House Auction, London, 2007); “Ten Creative Forces” (Tao Art Gallery (Mumbai), Navya Art Gallery (Delhi) & Time and Space Gallery (Bangalore), 2008); “Contemporary Drawings” (Emami Chisel Art, Calcutta,2010); and “Visual Ventures” (Emami Chisel Art, Calcutta, 2011), to mention just a few. Ms. Hasan’s works are with collectors in India, UK, Switzerland, Sri Lanka, Japan, Holland, USA, Spain and France. She is also the recipient of several awards, fellowships and felicitations such as the Fellowship for Culture Studies, Syracuse University, New York (1986), the Ecole D’Arts Visuels - Academie, Lausanne, Switzerland (1998), the George Keyt Foundation Residency, Sri Lanka (2002), the Artists Residency Award by the French Government, Paris (2006), and the Raza Foundation National Award for Painting (2007), amongst others. Saba Hasan lives and works in New Delhi.
Pt. Satyasheel Deshpande
Pt. Satyasheel Deshpande (b. 1951) is a uniquely creative Hindustani classical vocalist whose contribution to the world of music as a performer, composer and musicologist cannot be easily overlooked by anyone with an enlightened interest in the field. Like his greatest mentor, Pt. Kumar Gandharva, he was born with an uncanny capacity to reproduce the music of the great masters. This talent together with the musical exposure he received in his father, the eminent musicologist Pt. Vamanrao Deshpande’s house, soon established him as a child prodigy. He decided to devote himself fully to the study of music under the guidance of Kumarji, with whom he lived in Devas in the true spirit of a disciple. Pt. Deshpande knew that Kumarji’s guidance was only the beginning of a hard yet fascinating journey that he would have to undertake alone. He thus began to lay the foundations of his own style, constantly gathering compositions from traditional sources, trying at once to be true to its essence and re-interpreting it to suit his personal temperament. With the help of a Ford Foundation grant, he has established the Samvaad Foundation at his residence in Mumbai. Here he has created the largest and most valuable collection of Hindustani archives in the country. The method he adopts is one of unprejudiced comparative analysis between alternate interpretations of classical forms. This work, besides being unquestionably of great value to contemporary and future students, has also deeply enriched Pt. Deshpande’s own vision of music. He is a recipient of many awards including the Homi Bhabha Fellowship (1996), the Kumar Gandharva Fellowship (1999), Sursingar Samsad’s Tansen Award, the Raza Award for creativity (2006), and most recently the Vimla Devi Foundation Award for social work, for his work with the Samvaad Foundation. He has been performing in major music festivals all over the country and abroad, and has also occasionally sung for films, his most remembered performance being in Lekin with Smt. Asha Bhosle, for which he won the Best Playback Singer of the Year award. Other films have also seen him singing with Bharat Ratna Lata Mangeshkar. His albums ‘Kahen’ and ‘Thumri Katha’ have become immensely popular. ‘Kahen’ is a collection of bandishes, both traditional and those composed by Pt. Deshpande himself, that takes a fresh new look at the latent creative potential of classical music. His album ‘Thumri Katha’ is his attempt at reinterpreting the tradition of thumri singing. Each thumri in this album comes from a different part of the country and has a different aesthetic, its own character and, consequentially, a different style of presentation. Pt. Deshpande is a man who possesses as thorough a grounding in the Hindustani tradition as it is possible to have in modern times; and yet for all his deep-rootedness in the tradition, he has allowed himself to emerge organically: spreading himself like a tree in all directions, putting forth new branches and leaves, and shedding what he no longer feels necessary, without forgetting even for a moment his connection with the rich soil from which he derives his creative strength. He has thus achieved an enviably precarious balance between the demands of the tradition he has internalized so profoundly and those of his own imagination and personality. Pt. Satyasheel Deshpande lives and works in Mumbai, Maharashtra.
I wish to bring to the dance a vital energy that speaks in the present tense; this I owe as a ractitioner of a great tradition that can rejuvenate itself by adapting to flux. Else, it will lose its vitality…Many streams of aesthetics, poetry, philosophy and emotional impulse flow together to create the item. Art experience is about encountering metaphors and making creative leaps. And critics and others who merely look for a literal ‘understanding’ of the piece, I think, lose out on the richness of the experience of rasa..
Malavika Sarukkai, the nationally and internationally acclaimed dancer-choreographer, initially trained under eminent Gurus, Guru Kalyanasundaram, Guru Rajaratnam and Guru Kalanidhi Narayanan. An expert in abhinaya, her classic style of making every moment of her performance personal, spontaneous and contemporary in spite of obeying the rules of the traditional dance form, is admired by audiences worldwide. Ms. Sarukkai has participated in several major dance festivals in India and abroad, and has participated in numerous cultural events. Her performances, like Sakthi Sakthimaan, Ganga - Nitya Vaahini, Fireflies, Srinkhala, Srotasvini-Multiple Streams, Khajuraho, etc., have been acclaimed by critics of leading newspapers in India and abroad, and her artistry was featured in the BBC/WNET television documentary “Dancing,’ a nine hour series on world dance. Sequences of her dance have been filmed by German TV for ARTE and by inematheque of Dance, Paris. A film by Sushant Misra, Samarpanam, was specially commissioned by the Government of India for the National Archives; and Malavika Sarukkai – Dancing Life, reflecting her philosophy on dance was produced by Barbara and Eberhard Fischer of Museum Rietberg, Zurich, and directed by Prasanna Ramaswamy. Ms. Sarukkai is a recipient of numerous awards and felicitations including the Padam Shri, the Kalaimamani, the Mrinalini Sarabhai Award for excellence in Classical Dance, the Nrityachoodamani, Haridas Sammelan & the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award. She has also received senior fellowships and production grants from the Department of Culture, Government of India, for creating new work and extending the repertoire. Malavika Sarukkai lives and works in Chennai, Tamilnadu.
Art to me, would be closely related to ‘wonder’ – wonder of the human mind to the capacity of the physical body with the soul, without its own self, that is, the mind. For the mind is made up of the past and that is what art in its form and content is liberated of and liberates one of, thus creating an experience that is indefinable, intangible, elevating. Art is an experience only starting from the senses, the senses are a means, its take-off point to a flight of the intangible… the root of this experience is in silence. My form of expression is painting. It would belong (for the sake of categorization) to the realm of ‘abstract’ or ‘non-representational’ art. In my experience of painting, ‘abstract’ lies not in the subject matter but the process, the visual experience leading to the further indefinable experience that is termed as abstract. The experience is indefinable, hence abstract: this feeling, I believe, is common to all arts. Abstraction is in its deepest sense, based on Realism, as in reality- reality of the present moment, free from any thought, memory, conditioning…only that pure present moment existing. So painting is then a ‘time- manifested’ process and I become only a means. The experience of this process is in its totality, not in isolated parts. There is no composing, manipulating, ‘creating a form or painting’ – that is strategy. I don’t paint in parts, but the whole image at the same time. When I am painting the space surrounds me, contains me and is within me. I don’t know when I breathe, as to when the air mingles to become one with the self and when the self becomes air. One is not separated from anything in that aspect. As I paint, the many ‘me’ start disappearing, the profusion of thoughts reduce and I start accepting whatever happens – not condition myself to what has happened and what should happen (this to me is ‘making a painting’ by the applying the knowledge of the craft or technique of ‘how to do something’ to get a desired result). A painting to me ‘happens’ by simply being in the present moment … it is an evidence of freedom … and that freedom is an evidence of life. I paint applying layers and layers of color. My quest and concern is towards formlessness and colorlessness, that is to say I work toward a complete integration of the medium, form, color and texture. I consider and hence strive to have light as a tangible part of my painting. The layering of colors, its peeling out, its uneven surface, all play with light and shadows, incorporating these elements as part of themselves. I strive for these unities in my work, where no part – color or form - are separate from each other.
Sheetal Gattani (b.1968) completed her Diploma in art education (1990) and Master’s in fine arts (1993) from the J. J.
School of Art, Mumbai, and a post-graduate diploma in Indian aesthetics in Mumbai (2002). She has showcased her artworks through extensive participation in a number of solo and group shows. Some of her solo shows with prominent galleries of the country include those at Gallery Chemould (Mumbai, 1998, 2001 & 2005), Apparao Gallery (Chennai, 2004), Galarie 88 (Kolkata, 2006), Bodhi Art Gallery (Singapore, 2007), Gallery Espace (Delhi, 2007) and with Gallery Sumukha (Chennai & Bangalore, 2008). Her major group exhibitions include “At Walden Pond” (Gallery Beyond, Mumbai, 2011); “Morning at the Window” (Galerie Mirchandani + Steinruecke, Mumbai, 2011); “A. SYCO” (The Viewing Room, Mumbai, 2010); “Divagations: Spaces of Possibility” Raza Foundation Awardees Show (Art Alive, New Delhi, 2009); “Deep in Black” (Galerie Muller and Plate, Munich, 2009); “Abstract Contemporary Art” (Gallery Art Motif, New Delhi, 2008); “I Witness” (Museum Gallery, Mumbai, 2008); “10 Light Years” (Kashi Art Gallery, Kochi, 2008) “Soft Spoken” (NCPA, Mumbai, 2007); “Reduced to Essentials” (with Zarina Hashmi at Bombay Art Gallery, Mumbai, 2007); “Panchatantra” (Kashi Art Gallery, Kochi, 2007); “Softspoken” (NCPA, Mumbai, 2007); “Shakti” Women Artists’ Show (Hacienda Gallery, Mumbai, 2002); “Anonymously Yours,” organized by Lakeeren Gallery (British Council, Mumbai, 2000); “50 Years of Independence” (NGMA, Mumbai, 1997); “Essays in Time” (Nehru Center, Mumbai, 1998); “Festival of Contemporary Art” (with Sohan Qadri at Gallery 7, Mumbai, 1999); to mention a few. Sheetal Gattani lives and works in Mumbai.
Harshavardhan : My works are not a means of communication of a message to the beholder. Indeed if there is a ‘meaning’ there should be a hundred ‘meanings.’ The works expect a sustained dialogue which is in the visual realm rather than in the verbal. The sensibilities of the process of creation, I feel, are independent of those of the created which may be different and manifold.
S. HarshVa rdhana (b.1958) is the son of the late master J. Swaminathan. He did his Masters in bioscience from the Birla Institute of Technology & Sciences, Pilani (1980) and Diploma in business management. He is a self-taught artist and has held solo exhibitions of his work in Singapore, Chennai, Mumbai and New Delhi. He has participated in numerous art workshops in India and abroad; has been a jury member in various art events and competitions; and his works are a part of various collections both public and private. His artworks have also been exhibited at a number of group shows, some of which include the Bharat Bhavan Biennial of Contemporary Indian Art (Bhopal, 1996); Group Show at Lakeeren Gallery (Mumbai); the pastel medium based shows curated by Prayag Shukla for Gallery Art Motif (New Delhi, 1997); Post-Modern Indian art group show curated by David Olivant for Turlock City Arts Commission (Turlock, CA USA); “Brush with Ghalib” NCZCC camp (Indian Habitat Centre, New Delhi); group show organised by Arushi Arts (New Delhi, 1998); 41st National Exhibition organised by Lalit Kala Akademi (New Delhi); “Veiled Spaces,” a four person show curated by Udayan Vajpeyi at Jehangir Art Gallery (Mumbai); and “Multi- Media,” a group show organised by CIM. S. Harshavardhan lives and works in New Delhi.
I think the hard-edged identities of religion or ethnicity are to a great extent modern constructs. If you look at pre-modern India, what you’re really looking at is a set of intersecting geographies. The three major dynamics are trade routes, pilgrimage routes and invasion routes. You find a constant migration of people: new cults, new texts, new religious ideas and also new secularities. From the 12th to the 18th century this is what you have. A lot of this activity is in fact confluential – people who extend themselves beyond what is permitted to them canonically. We’re still playing out the politics of the 20th century to a large extent – which was a really divisive, annihilative politics, creating hard-edged identities at the expense of the other. In a situation like that everybody suffers, but what are most damaged are forms that developed at the intersections..
Ranjit Hoskote (b.1969) is a cultural theorist, independent curator and poet. He is the author of nineteen books, which include five volumes of poetry; most recently, Vanishing Acts: New & Selected Poems 1985-2005 (Delhi: Penguin, 2006) and Die Ankunft der Vögel (München: Carl Hanser Verlag, 2006). Mr. Hoskote has also authored nine monographs on art and artists, some of which are Bharti Kher (New York: Jack Shainman Gallery, 2007), The Crafting of Reality: Sudhir Patwardhan, Drawings (Bombay: The Guild, 2008), and most recently, Zinny and Maidagen:Compartment/ Das Abteil (Frankfurt: Museum fur Moderne Kunst/Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther Konig, 2010) . He has collaborated on an artist book called Pale Ancestors (Bombay: Bodhi Art, 2008) with Atul Dodiya. He has co-authored a critical history of cultural confluence, Kampfabsage (München: Random House/ Blessing Verlag, 2007); and has curated twenty-one exhibitions of modern and contemporary art, including a mid-career retrospective of Atul Dodiya (Japan Foundation, Tokyo, 2001) and a lifetime retrospective of Jehangir Sabavala (National Gallery of Modern Art, Bombay and New Delhi, 2005-2006), and so on. Mr. Hoskote was co-curator of the trans-Asian collaborative curatorial project, ‘Under Construction’ (Japan Foundation, Tokyo and other Asian venues, 2001-2002), and of the 7th Gwangju Biennale (Korea, 2008) with artistic director Okwui Enwezor. He was a Fellow of the International Writing Program, University of Iowa (1995) and Writer-in-Residence at Villa Waldberta, München (2003). His poems have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies. As General Secretary of the PEN All-India Centre, he has also been a vocal and articulate defender of cultural and artistic freedoms, and the rights of embattled minority groups, and was appointed Commissioner for India’s first ever national pavilion for the 54th Venice Biennale (2011). Ranjit Hoskote lives and works in Mumbai, Maharashtra.
Uday Bhawalkar : Dhrupad is a musical form prevalent since the early evolutionary stages of Indian classical music (Margee sangeet) and derives from the sound of Omkar, considered to be the origin of naad (sound). Lord Shiva, believed to be the first Dhrupad musician, also inspired many rishis and munis to follow suit. Dhrupad is deeply rooted in this tradition of introspection. It diverges in its thought process and presentation from other forms of classical music, while the concepts of swar, raag, taal, niyam, spontaneity and expression are identical. Indian culture has been embraced in multitudinous ways resulting in numerous musical traditions. Consequently it would be unsuitable to confine dhrupad to a strict definition. A misconception I have often come across is the idea that dhrupad is a rigid genre that limits scope for the individual’s creativity. While any art, inclusive of its rules will always be an oceanic domain that none can conquer, it is the genius of the artist that pushes the limits of this universe. Hence, considering any art form to be rigid is passing a parochial judgement on it. Dhrupad is verily a royal path, delving deep into the study of the swar and raags. The endeavor, on this illimitable journey, is to understand the strength behind the swar and its multiple facets and to recognize its divinity.
Uday Bhawalkar was selected at the age of fifteen to study at the Dhrupad Kendra in Bhopal. He lived there and studied dhrupad for twelve years in the residences of his Gurus, Ustad Zia Fariduddin Dagar and the Rudra-Veena Maestro Ustad Zia Mohiuddin Dagar in Bhopal and Mumbai. In 1985 he gave his first performance at Bhopal, and has since performed at many prominent music festivals in India and abroad, including at the Tansen Samaroh (Gwalior), Sajan Milap Gharana Sammelan N.C.P.A. (Mumbai), Saptak Music Festival (Ahmadabad), Shriram Shankarlal Festival (New Delhi), Sawai Gandhrava Sangeet Mahotsava (Pune), Samrat Sangeet Mahotsav (Goa), Bhakti Utsav (New Delhi), and the Prithvi Music Festival (Mumbai), amongst others. In addition to having performed for Spicmacay for the last eighteen years, Mr. Bhawalkar has presented many solo concerts in Europe, USA, Canada and Mexico, and has performed in world music festivals in England (WOMAD) and Belgium (SFINKS). He has collaborated with artists from other disciplines including the contemporary dancer Astad Deboo, the group Ensemble Modern (Germany) and professional musicians from Spain and USA. In addition, he has contributed to the soundtracks of international art films including Mani Kaul’s Cloud Door, Aparna Sen’s Mr & Mrs Iyer and Amol Palekar’s Anahat. Mr. Bhawalkar is a recipient of many awards such as a Gold-Medal presented by Ustad Nasir Aminuddin Dagar, the National Scholarship, the Junior Fellowship from the Government of India, and the Rashtriya Kumar Gandharva Samman, given by the Madhya Pradesh Government in 2001. Uday Bhawalkar lives and works in Pune, Maharashtra.
Surupa Sen : For years, I have not quite known how to describe my ‘work.’ I dance and I make up dances. This, in a nutshell is my ‘work.’ I took charge of the Nrityagram Dance Ensemble in 1993, three years after I came to Nrityagram. It happened that way quite naturally. I started by re-staging solo and group compositions that my teachers at the time taught me. It turned out that most people who saw it thought that I had a gift for choreography and presentation. Gaurima (Protima Gauri Bedi) supported me a hundred percent and urged me to give free reign to my creativity. “I’ll back you all the way,” she said. I enjoyed creating new dances and soon that became the crux of my role here in the dance village and the central aspect of my work. As the Artistic Director of the dance company I have created five full length productions for Nrityagram’s dancers. I like to believe that each of these is different from the other and that I have hopefully grown ‘on the job’ both as a dancer and a choreographer. On the whole, however, the journey thus far has been shared equally by a group of people around me that have helped fulfill my vision for Odissi dance and enhanced it substantially. Learning and practicing Odissi in Nrityagram has been a transformative experience in many ways. An intense life of rigour and discipline practiced as a lifestyle, demands perseverance of a different kind. Living in such close proximity with individuals from varying backgrounds in a community, forces us to face our own inadequacies and that of others and cope as best as we can! The traditional relationship of the ‘guru-shishya’ in a more modern environment acquires a different perspective and puts important values in place.
The living transformation from inside-out finds a subtle way into the dance itself and becomes a part of all that I do. The way I live, breathe and touch the spaces I work with. This is all that I have lived for the past twenty-two years in Nrityagram and perhaps it reflects in my work. Even as I tried only to be a dancer, the mainstay of my work has become creating new work for others and myself. The art I seek to make is inspired by many. God, people and every other kind of impulse that comes my way! The vocabulary used for Odissi as we practice it here in Nrityagram has grown and developed much further than that which was handed down to me. Much of the language created has been the result of years of study and experiment. I like to treat my art in some ways as I believe I would, pure science. A large part of it is to simply observe and absorb information and then to use it effectively. And try very hard meanwhile not to let the little things go by. The ones that make life worth living. Dance and love mean one and the same thing to me. I pray that my work reflects that. Excellence and love. Simply that.
Surupa Sen was the first student at Nrityagram, and has received her training from Guru Kelucharan Mahapatra, Protima Gauri, and Smt. Kalanidhi Narayanan. As a child she studied Bharatanatyam, to which she attributes her pre occupation with form and line. Attracted to choreography from her first exposure to western makers of dances, she participated in the International Choreographer’s Residency at the American Dance Festival (2000), on a grant from the Asian Cultural Council. Over the years she has worked with dancers and choreographers from across the world. Ms. Sen, who is Artistic Director and choreographer at Nrityagram, has performed in solo recitals and ensembles across India and the world. Her first full-length choreographic work, Sri: In Search of the Goddess (2000), consisted of both a non-traditional suite (Night, Fire, Dialogue with Death) and a re-working of traditional dance (Srimati, Srimayi, and Sridevi). Her next production Ansh (2004) was a reworking of a typical Odissi recital, which was followed by Sacred Space (2006), a show based on temple architecture and its relationship to dance, that used an expanded traditional Odissi vocabulary. Her newest production Pratima: Reflection, is a work that explores the relationship between the dancer and her dance as she seeks to find an image of herself through the essential truths – of Creation, Contemplation, Separation and the Duality of the human spirit. It was commissioned by the Joyce Theatre’s Stephen and Cathy Weinroth Fund for New York, as part of their 25th anniversary celebrations. In 2011 Nrityagram performed and toured with Sriyaḥ: a Decade of Dance-Making, and at present Ms. Sen is working on her full-length production Saṃhära. All her productions have toured extensively across India and the world. She is a recipient of several awards and felicitations including the the Nritya Choodamani (2011), the Yagnaraman Award for Excellence in Dance (2008) and the Raza Foundation Award for Excellence in Dance (2006). Surupa Sen lives and works in Bangalore, Karnataka.
Vanita Gupta : I believe in the ardent need to paint nothing more or less, in the adequate and the apt existence. The very desire is to arrive at the most precise form. My art does not depend on the tangible visuals or things around but I want to give form to the intangible within. The substance of my creativity could be defined as the ‘wetness of water.’ The content of my painting is exactly like this: it cannot be separated or explained further than the visual itself. It is what is. While in work I am the captive of that very moment, where the only way to freedom is total submission. I repetitively come in and out of that fire ring like in a circus, where a little imbalance could be fatal. I like to put myself through a testing ground with each work I do.
My drawings are one-stroke achievements, as in the line would not break and the brush would not leave the canvas until it has arrived at the desired result. The area of creativity dwells in the infinite whereas its outcome certainly is in the concrete and the finite form. A form formulates the space either by formation, or even more by deformation. My drawings emerge out of the density of a black line beholding the energy of accomplishment. These forms alienate me from this very world and at the same time they expose me to an independent visual world. My acquaintance to this unknown world confirms my belief in searching for the unidentifiable but unified form. Another feature of my creative journey has been minimalism. The entire energy is concentrated or released at a particular area in space that holds the visual construction. The empty space is left unfilled but it is not unfulfilled.
Va nita Gupta (b.1972) completed her G.D. in fine arts from L.S.Raheja School of Art, Mumbai in 1992. She has held several solo shows in Mumbai on a regular basis since 1994, at the Jehangir Art Gallery and Pundole Art Gallery, as well as at the gallery at Red Church Street, London (2007) and the Singapore Art Fair (2006). She has participated in many group exhibitions in India and abroad, some of which are as follows: Annual Show at Gallery Art Motif (New Delhi, 2010); Raza Foundation Awardees Art Exhibition (Delhi, 2009); “Mapping Memories 2” (New Delhi, 2008); “The Eye Within” (New Delhi, 2007); at the Berkley Square Gallery (London, 2006); “Edge of Abstraction” (New Delhi (2005); “Ideas and Images” a group-show by women artists (NGMA, Mumbai, 2004); National Exhibition of Art, (Lalit Kala Akademi, Kerala,2004); “Shakti” (Hacienda Art Gallery, Mumbai,2002); West Zone Exhibition (Tao Art Gallery, Mumbai, 2001); Kala Ghoda Festival (NGMA, Mumbai, 2001); “Ideas & Images” (NGMA, Mumbai, 2000); “50 years of Art in Bombay” (NGMA, Mumbai, 1997); Miniature Format Show (Mumbai, 1996-2000); Annual Show (Art Society of India, Mumbai, 1993); and “Citi Art Utsav” (Citi Bank, Mumbai, 1991), amongst others. She has also participated in fairs, festivals and auctions such as the Singapore Art Fair (2006) and the “Art for Hearts Sake” auction conducted by Bowring’s in 2003. Ms. Gupta has received Certificates of Merit for her Self-Portrait by the Bombay Art Society (1992), and for On-the-spot pictorial composition, by Camlin India (1990). In 2007 she was awarded the Raza Foundation Award for Art. Vanita Gupta lives and works in Mumbai.
Avadhesh Yadav : I believe bhaav or emotion is very important in the fine arts. I am interested purely in using the visual to evoke emotion in the audience. All art can do that: literature through words, dance through mudras and paintings via form, color and other elements. My titles are not directly connected to my paintings .In fact I title my paintings only after I complete them. I can’t claim any spirituality in my work, but I believe that a simple act of doing something can attain spirituality if the doer is in tandem with his karma. I usually listen to music while painting. It helps create a good rhythm: my listening and handling of painting. In between I take a break to draw a line or to put a dot, even a moment to decide what to do on the canvas. My mind is never completely blank or focused. There is much, related and unrelated, that glides through it as I paint.
p> Avadhesh Ya dav (b. 1972) completed his Masters in fine arts from the Government Institute of Fine Arts, Indore (1988). In addition to three solo exhibitions in 2000, 2004 and 2008 called DUO at Alliance Francaise DE (Bhopal), “Does She Appear in Grey” at the Daira Centre for Arts and Culture (Hyderabad) and “Vilambit” at Museum Art Gallery (Mumbai), he has showcased his work in several group exhibitions as well. Some of these are as follows: “Young Indore,” curated by M.F. Husain (New Delhi, 1996), “Art from the Land of Heart” (New Delhi, 1997), “Anadi” (New Delhi, Kolkata, Bangalore, Mumbai, 2001), “Similarities And Dissimilarities” (Mumbai, 2001), “Apparition” (Trissur, 2002), “Gangcey 13” (Colombo, 2002), “Middle Edge” (California, 2008); and “Chaturdha” (New Delhi, 2010). Mr. Yadav’s works are included in numerous private art collections in India, USA, UK, Australia, Singapore, Holland, Germany, Japan, Egypt, Bulgaria, Kenya, amongst other countries. Avadhesh Yadav lives and works in Indore, Madhya Pradesh.
Yatindra Mishra : Writing or speaking about yourself, is perhaps the most challenging and risky act. Doing this, one is responsible not only for the image one is creating through words but is also plagued by the worry if this will be understood positively in a wider perspective. As far as I am concerned, being a poet is my most natural and intimate identity. To prepare language and sensibility with words and their nuances excites me. For me, poetry is the true satyagrah of the citizen within your soul. It is home and haven to all who have no place to call their own.
To me, poetry and sensibility are, within language the oasis for humanity - something like Virginia Woolfe’s essay “On Reading” where a few angel-like persons can create their private heaven, even within the hell or world, where their favourite books are available. Poetry is a living, fascinating mix of Kabir’s dressing down, Ghalib’s playfulness, Kalidas’ classicalism and the surrender of bhakti poets, where irrespective of one’s success and failure, it is possible to remain human. I do not know what others do to save their individual dignity. I definitely know that the lone call of my language, a note sung true, the innocent spirituality flowing through the arts would save me and make my intimate world better and inclusive. For me, literature, music and other expressions are the necessities of life. Just as we all organize food to deal with hunger, I seek recourse to classical music almost daily. And I also stroll through the magic of the world of Kafka, Rilke, Proust, Wilde, Burtrand Russel, Shakespeare, Bhartrihari, Akka Mahadevi, Meera bai, Tukaram, Ghalib, Meer, Momin, Daagh and Faiz. I find Chaplin’s films a happy measure of my sensibilities. The place I come from - Ayodhyais a town of vairagis, the ones who have forsaken the world. It is filled with families of world-forsakers. The town is a rare duet of a strange coldness and alienation. And this is where I want to be. This is where I want to live as a poet: encountering the music of the maestros, listening to dhrupad and thumri, enjoying raag Malkaus or Lata Mangeshkar’s songs, reading Hemingway or Nirmal Verma, lost in the baanis of Paltudas or the songs of the romantic bhakta poets.
Yat indra Mishra (b. 1977) is a poet, editor and music aficionado, who has three collections of poetry to his name – Yada Kada (1997), Ayodhya tatha anya Kavitayein (1999) and Dyodhi Par Alaap (2005) – besides which he has written a book on the classical singer Girija Devi called Girija and a book of conversations with the dancer Sonal Mansingh called Devpriya. He has also edited selections from the poetry of Agyeya, Jitna Tumhara Sach Hai (2011), the prose of Ashok Vajpeyi, Kis Bhogol Mei Kis Sapne Mei (2011), and the poetry of Gulzar, Yaar Julahe (2009). His book on Ustad Bismillah Khan, Sur Ki Baradari, is soon to be published by Penguin (Yatra) Books. In addition, Mr. Mishra has edited the arts and cultural magazines “Sahit” and “Thatee,” and has travelled extensively in India and abroad to attend several cultural symposia.
In 1999 he founded the Vimla Devi Foundation to promote literature and the arts, and since 2006 he has been organizing an annual festival of performing arts called ‘Ishwar Allah Tero Naam,’ aimed at highlighting India’s Ganga-Jamuni tehzeeb. He is the recipient of the Raza Award (2007), the Bharatiya Bhasha Parishad Yuva Puraskar (2006), the Hemant Smriti Kavita Sammaan (2005), the Bharat Bhushan Agarwal Smriti Puraskar(2004), Rajiv Gandhi Raashtriya Ekta Award (2004)and the Rituraj Sammaan (1999). He was also awarded a fellowship by the Department of Culture (2003-04) and an independent fellowship from Sarai, New Delhi(2006-07). Yatindra Mishra lives and works in Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh.
Preeti Patel: Manipuri dance traditions have always been surrounded by an aura of mystique. In reality this tradition is very different from other Indian dance traditions.
In my frequent stays in Manipur, I was always intrigued as to what was prevalent before the Rasleela tradition evolved in the 18th century. This made me go deeper into the study of the traditions of Lai Haraoba. This is a pre-Vaishnavite form of tantra worship, the worship of nature and the elements and ancestral spirits. The history of these traditions go much before 33 A.D. and they have been sustained down the ages through the dances. Interestingly, today you see the pre-Vaishnavite and the Vaishnavite religion and dances surviving side by side in Manipur.
My choreographies, concepts and inspirations are from both these traditions which are so unique. Since most of these are living traditions, it is my aim to keep them alive and vibrant, the way they have been down the ages. This can only be done by keeping them alive in the temples and bringing some of their aspects to the stage through new choreographies.
Priti Pat el (b. 1960) was initiated into the world of dance at the age of five and received her training from eminent Manipuri dance gurus, Late Guru Bipin Singh and the Jhaveri Sisters. Through the rigorous training she underwent under her Gurus, especially Smt. Darshana Jhaveri, she excelled as a danseuse in this form of dance and especially in the Vaishnavite Ras Leela form of the Manipuri dance tradition. She then went on to take lessons in the pre-Vaishnavite dance forms of Thang-ta and Lai Haraoba, the martial and ritualistic forms of the Manipuri dance tradition respectively. With the intention of imparting education in this unique dance tradition, Ms.Patel laid the foundation of a school called ‘Anjika’ in Kolkata. This school has a dual curriculum that includes movement therapy for children suffering from cerebral palsy. This aspect is strengthened by the fact that she has undergone formal training from the Lesley College, Boston, USA, in dance and movement therapy and has worked with special children in collaboration with the Indian Institute for cerebral palsy. Over the years, under her leadership, Anjika has performed in several prestigious dance shows all over the world and has won a number of laurels and accolades for itself. Ms.Patel and Anjika are the recipients of several awards and felicitations including the Raza Foundation Award for contribution to Manipuri dance (2008), the Fulbright Fellowship for Performing Arts (2000- 2001); the Second Mrinalini Sarabhai Award for excellence in Classical Dance (2000), the Surendra Paul Award” for her contribution to dance in the decade 1990-1999 (2000), the Golden Rosed Prize, China (1993), and the Shiromani Award (1990), amongst others. She also has some new choreographies to her credit in which she has incorporated all the four styles, Thang-ta, Lai-Haraoba, Sankirtana, and Rasleela of Manipuri Dance. Preeti Patel lives and works in Imphal, Manipur.
Dhrupad is a divine form of music. When I play the Rudraveena, I feel as if I am in prayer.
My father would often tell me, “In the beginning, your Ustad teaches you; thereafter, your instrument teaches you. You have to work equally hard with both of them.” I am now beginning to understand what he meant. One solution is singing the whole dhrupad composition first to familiarize the audience with its melodic contours, and then playing it on the b‑een. This method is getting a good response. I am not sure this is a perfect solution. But, I don’t have one today. It could take me another ten years to find one.
Baha’ud- din Dagar belongs to the 20th generation of the Dagar family. He started his training on the sitar under the tutelage of his mother, Smt. Pramila Dagar, at the age of seven, and went on to learn the surbahar and then the rudra veena from his father, and then his uncle, Ustad Zia Fariduddin Dagar. Mr. Dagar first performed at a concert at the age of twenty, and has since been responsible for keeping the Dagar Vani style of dhrupad alive on the rudra veena. He uses the dhrupad syllables in the playing of the rudra veena, which give him a unique and precise sense of timing in the cutting of phrases while presenting the aalap, jor and jhala. Based on his research at the IIT Mumbai, he has also rediscovered a new veena that brings together both the north and the south music traditions, and has named it the ‘Ras Veena’. Mr. Dagar has performed at various audiences festivals across India and abroad, such as the Tansen Samaroahs (Gwalior), Dhrupad Samaroahs (Mumbai & Delhi), Sangeet Natak Akademi Fest (Delhi), Zeitfluss Fest (Austria), Festival Du Fes (Morocco), and the Darbar Festival (London). His music has been recorded by Music Today (India), Makars (France), Ragini Sutra (India), Sense World (London) and India Music Archives ([USA). He is the recipient of several awards such as the prestigious Sanskriti Award (New Delhi), the Yuvak Sadhak Award (Bhopal), and the Raza Foundation Award (New Delhi). Baha’ud-din Dagar lives and works in Mumbai, Maharashtra.
Atul Dodiya : In recent years I have allowed all of the world to enter the loneliness of my studio. I have painted, as if, at the crossroads - where East meets West, the popular and native meet the high classical or the very personal, autobiographical image overlaps with the universal icon. From these apparently anarchic hybrids I hope to understand the nature of creativity. Creativity earlier meant that I was a link in a long chain of art-makes from the ancient to the postmodern. The inclinations and obsessions have moved. Almost dramatically the earth has shifted beneath my feet. As my notions of security and beauty have changed, a deluge of images has hit me. Living in a nation seeped in poverty may be it is unavoidable. Death, decay, corruption, compromise, struggle are not distant metaphors of the fall of man. These are real, right here, lived with. Metallic omnipresence. Metal as a roller-shutter-guard to a shop. Opening/closing it is a symbol of the daily grind. Time passing by, the cruel industrial sounds, the lonely labourer, the glamour and glitz of the city.
The city for me is the chief inspiration. The overlapping contradictory images which I paint are born here. Constant contradiction is truth. Imagine the earth shifting beneath one’s feet perpetually.
Atul Dodiya (b.1959) received his diploma from the Sir J.J. School of Art (1982) and Ecole des Beaux-Arts, Paris (1991- 92). His strongly realistic works are subtly nuanced to provide a reflective medium to middle class homes, family life and his own life. Thin layers of painting and deftly painted strokes mirror suggestive situations. In his latest works he freely quotes his artistic peers like Hockney and Bhupen Khakhar to reflect on the act of painting itself. He has held several solo shows in Mumbai and New Delhi (2007), Singapore (2006), New York and Vadodara (2005), Chicago and Madrid (2002), Berlin and Tokyo (2001). He has also extensively participated in several residencies and group shows, including “Saptapadi: Scenes from Marriage” (New Delhi), “Here and Now: Young Voices from India” (London), “New Narratives: Contemporary Art from India” (Chicago), and “Private/Corporate IV” (Berlin). His works have been part of tours and travelling shows, such as “Hungry God’ (China & Korea, 2006-07) and “Edge of Desires” that traveled to Australia, Mexico, Toronto and New York. Among his other prestigious participations are “I-con: India Contemporary”, 51st Venice Biennale (2004), “New Indian Art: Home-Street-Shrine-Bazaar-Museum” (Manchester, 2002), and “Century City: Art & Culture in the Modern Metropolis Bombay/Mumbai” (Tate Modern, London, 2001), amongst others. Mr. Dodiya is the recipient of several awards such as Sotheby’s Prize, the Civitella Ranieri Foundation Fellowship, the Sanskriti Award, the French Government Scholarship, and a Gold Medal from the Maharashtra Government, to mention a few. Atul Dodiya lives and works in Mumbai, Maharashtra.
Jayashree Chakravarty: Being an interpreter of myth, epic, memory and utopia, I enter metaphorically, mythically and concurrently, the all-inclusive time of the present. In my work the positivist time of the epic - this really happened - and the nostalgic time of the utopia - this may have happened - combine in the absolute present of the myth; this is happening. There is, however, something simper, clearer and deeper at the same time. The works are also a visual metaphor for humankind’s desolation and fear on earth; of initiating a regression into nothingness. The image becomes an act of birth, of creation, a space that is all-enveloping; the scar of time; the enshrinement of all times; the meeting ground of memory and imagination; a common present where everything can begin again; a painting
Jayashree Chakravarty (b.1956) graduated from Santiniketan in 1978 and then obtained a post- graduate diploma from the MS University, Baroda. She has also been an Artist-in-Residence at the Ecole d’Art, Aixen-Provence, France. Her paintings are mostly autobiographical. At a mere conventional and figurative level, they reflect the unity of man with nature. Some motifs like dogs, waves and serried crescent shapes constantly recur in her works. She has held several solo shows such as “Where the Sand meets the Sky” (New York), “New Narratives: Contemporary Art from India” (Chicago, 2007), “Route Map of Experience” (New Delhi, 2003), at Ecole d’Art, (Paris, 1995), and so on. She has been part of prestigious group shows in India and abroad, which include “Crossing Generations: Divergence” (Mumbai, 2002); “Moving Ideas: A Contemporary Dialogue with India” (Vancouver, 2001); “Boundlessly Various and Everything Simultaneously” (New York, 2000); “Fire and Life” in Canberra after an Indo-Australian residency in Kolkata and Brisbane (1997); and “Women Artists of India: A Celebration of Independence” (Oakland, 1995), amongst others. She has exhibited her works across India and Sweden and they can be seen in the National Gallery of Modern Art and at the Chandigarh Museum. They are also held by several prestigious collections in India and abroad. Ms. Chakravarty is the recipient of several awards such as the Bombay Art Society Award, II Bharat Bhavan Biennial Award, British Council Visitorship Grant, French Government Scholarship, Honourable Mention Award, and Asian Art Biennial, to mention a few. Jayashree Chakravarty lives and works in Paris, France.
Just die for one minute
Before reading this poem
Just forfeit a one minute from your longevity
Just one minute
Because I want to be the last creature on earth
I want to knead my fervent life with death on this planet
I want to see the world’s last scenes---
The lights getting dark, the greens growing yellow,
The yellow assimilating in the darkness, the steady sea waves,
The restless of desert houses, the great deaths of the rivers and mountains,
And the last screams of all burning matters.
I want to see—
The fall of high structures, the rise and fall of civilization, stillness of the five
And my soul
Foaming with infinite longevity
At the edge of your doom
Kindly leave me alive
To see the scene of this dear world
Donate a one minute from your longevity
I assure you, I would compose my last poem
In praise of your generous heart
And the great death of the world
Just die for one minute..
Nilim Kumar is one of the most popular poets of contemporary Assamese literature. He has published a total of seventeen collections of poems, some of which are Achinar Akhukh (1985), Bari Kunwar (1988), Swapnar Relgaari (1991), Seluoi Gadhuli (1992), Topanir Baagicha (1994), Panit Dhou Dhoubor Mach (1990), Narakashur and Atmakatha. He has also authored a number of novels such as Matit Uri Phura Chitrakar, Akash Apartment and Athkhon Premar Uppannyas. Nilim Kumar ki Srestha Kabita, a collection of his poems in Hindi translation was published by Presidency University, Kolkata, 2011. He is the President of ‘The Call of the Brahmaputra,’ a socio-cultural literary organization of Assam, and has translated poems of Kedarnath Singh into Hindi and published it as an anthology, Bagh Aru Annya Kabita. He has also attended poets’ conferences for international exchanges organized under the aegis of Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi, held in France and Bangladesh. Mr. Kumar is a recipient of several awards such as the Raza Foundation Award (2009) and Uday Bharati National Award (1994). His poems are being translated into Spanish and Manipuri and have been published in Treasure Trove, a twentyfive-volume literary project on Assamese literature in English, edited and compiled by Abhigyan Anurag. Nilim Kumar lives and works in Guwahati, Assam.
I think that change and innovation are a necessary aspect of any art form and that Odissi is no exception as long as one maintains a strong link with the tradition. A teacher and a choreographer have a very serious responsibility to maintain the link with the artistic tradition which they have inherited from their teacher. One should think before teaching or choreographing about where one’s work will lead three or four generations of dancers down the line. One also needs to always work from a strong text in abhinaya. We interpret text through dance and if the themes are classical, elevated themes, then the interpretation through gestures and body language will flow naturally in our classical form.
SUJATA MOHAPATRA , one of the leading soloists of the country, is an accomplished and versatile Odissi artiste from Bhubaneswar, Orissa. In addition to her training in Odissi, she holds a Master’s degree in Oriya literature from Utkal University and has extensively researched temple architecture relating to the dance form. Disciple and daughter-in-law of the legendary Padma Vibhushan Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra, her interest in dance was nurtured at an early age by her parents. Intensively trained and groomed by her guru for more than eighteen years, she has also undergone training at the Odissi Research Centre in Bhubaneswar. Ms. Mohapatra has a compelling and arresting stage presence, with an exhilarating combination of intensity and spontaneity, and her dance is noteworthy for its grace, depth of expression and technical perfection. Widely travelled over the world as a soloist and a leading member of the Srjan Dance Troupe, she also runs this dance school along with her husband Ratikant Mohapatra, who is also a leading Odissi dancer, choreographer, and musician. Ms. Mohapatra often conducts workshops in the major centres of Odissi teaching across India and the world. Her significant performances have been at the Konark Dance Festival, Mukteshwar Dance Festival, Khajauraho Dance Festival, etc. She is a recipient of numerous awards including the Raza Foundation Award (New Delhi), Aditya Birla Kala Kiran Award (Mumbai), Pandit Jasraj Award (Mumbai), Mahari Award, and the Second Sanjukta Panigrahi Award (Washington DC). Sujata Mohapatra lives and works in Bhubaneswar, Orissa.
Manjiri Asnare : Gharana is a very important phrase in Hindustani classical music, which refers to a particular style of khayal singing. Although the raga may be the same, its rendition differs in terms of alaap, taans, swar-lagaav, laya, and many other aspects. I am proud I belong to the Jaipur Atrauli Gharana. Normally it is assumed that the Jaipur style is very complex to sing as well as to understand. Listeners love this gayaki and yet at times have some reservations and prejudices about it. I follow all the Jaipur Gharana concepts, including clean aakars, intricate swaras and laya weaving. Raga swaroop is clearly given in the bandish((composition) and it is strictly followed even in the taan part. Each and every awartan is beautifully designed right from the first matra (beat) of the tala (rhytemic cycle).I like to listen to singers of all the Gharanas, genres.I sing many complex ragas like Daguri, Khokar, Shivmat Bhairav, Vihang, etc., and I love to sing the evergreen ones such as Miyan ki Todi, Bhairav, Marubihag, Tilak Kamod, Malkauns, etc. I like to sing bhajans, and tappa is one of my favorite light classical forms.
Manjiri Asnare- Kelkar, a Hindustani classical vocalist, is daughter of the renowned tabla artist, Anand Asanare. An approved A-grade artist of AIR for vocal music, she received her training from Pt. C.T. Mhaiskar (Sangli) and Pt. M.S. Kanetkar in classical vocal music. Her presentations of vocal recitals apart from the basic Jaipur style are impacted by the styles of various maestros like Master Krishnarao, Bal Gandharva, Pt. Gajananbua Joshi, Begam Akhatar, etc. She has delivered many prestigious performances, some of which include the 41st Sawai Gandharva Music Festival (Pune, 1993), Tansen Sangeet Samaroha (Gwalior, 1998), Basant Bahar (Mumbai, 1999), Shankarlal Festival (Delhi, 2000 & 2004), a Dubai tour (2002), United Kingdom tour (2005), Holland & Belgium tour (2006) and “Womad” (Australia & New Zealand, 2008). Her performances have received positive reviews in several newspapers and newsletters; the Alurkar Music House (Pune) and Navras Records (London) have released audio cassettes/CDs featuring her performances; and she was rated one of the ‘Faces of the Millennium’ by India Today (Nov. 1999) and one of the ‘Emerging Stars of India’ by The Week (Aug. 2003). Ms. Asnare- Kelkar is the recipient of several prizes and awards including the first prizes of AIR music competitions in both classical and light classical vocal music, the Music Scholarship by the Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India, the Young Performing Artist of the Year by the NCPA, the Sanskriti Award, and the first Bismillah Khan Award by the Sangeet Natak Akademi, amongst others. Manjiri Asnare- Kelkar lives and works in Nasik, Maharashtra.
Rm Palaniappan: During my schooling, interest in science made me imagine myself as a scientist; also my deep involvement in mathematics and astronomy gave me a doorway to see a new world of abstractions. Conscious dreaming of positives and building the imagination of the future and its collective sensibilities put me forth to be an artist by nature.
No one was born as an artist or everyone is an artist when they use the creative side of the brain. The physical and psychological aspects of theprocess of creation is always a wonder when you are aware of it. No matter where you stand on the line: it is the processes of extending the line by understanding the same in all respects by the total awareness of, in and out of the line that you have created-the breath, the life and the body.
My formal education in art unwrapped several origins of the creative process and its aesthetics. My interest in science and psychology is becoming the subject matter of my art and thought processes. Art is not merely aesthetics awareness. It is visual analysis and thought; above all, to me it is an expression of the Time–Space–Environment relationship in the context of a string between the physical and psychological perceptions of the matter.
Rm. PALANIAPPAN has a Diploma in fine arts (painting and post-diploma in industrial design from the College of Arts (Chennai), and studied advanced lithography at Tamarind Institute (USA). He was also Artist-in-Residence at Oxford University (1996). He has held several solo exhibitions in India, UK, USA and Holland; taken part in numerous group shows and international shows at home and in Singapore, Korea, Syria, Canada, Holland, Mexico, Cuba, the USA, Finland, Taiwan, France, Hawaii, Japan and Spain; and has visited several countries on grants and scholarships, as well as held workshops in print making on invitation. He has curated many important shows including the “Major Trends in Indian Art” on the occasion of the Golden Jubilee celebration of India’s Independence; served as International Commissioner in 1995 and member of the International Jury in 2008 for Bharat Bhavan International Prints Biennale, 1995 and 2008; and was a member of the jury in the National Exhibition of Art, 2008. A recipient of several awards, honors and residencies including the Fulbright Grant, Charles Wallace India Trust Grant, International Visitorship Program of USIS, and Senior Fellowship, Government of India, he is currently the Regional Secretary of Lalit Kala Akademi, Chennai. Rm. Palaniappan lives and works in Chennai, Tamil Nadu.
Because it is the art of the murmured voice. If it raises its pitch, it distorts its own reality, compromises its own integrity. It is a reminder of the magic of the whisper, the sorcery of the hushed voice. Because it allows me to inhabit a moment more fully than I would otherwise. Because it is the most vertical engagement with self that I know. Because its guile lies in taking me unawares. Someone said it’s like dropping a petal down the Grand Canyon and waiting for an echo. True. And yet, echoes do happen. Not audible, measurable echoes perhaps. But major shifts along internal fault lines, subtle enduring realignments. Because it disrupts all those snug oppositions I otherwise live by: day and night, precision and passion, mystery and illumination, work and play, truth and beauty. Poetry allows lunar concerns into my day. It brings question marks rather than full stops into my life. Because it’s a way of inventing and discovering, composing and revealing, making and disarming all at once. And because it has chemistry: you’ve got to be more acidic – or alkaline – by the end of reading or writing a poem, or it isn’t a poem. Because it reminds me that ideas are crunchy and things smoky. That there are passions of the mind and ideologies of the gut. Because of its suddenness, its toxic shock clarity, its verbal single maltness. Because words don’t come easy. And when they do, they’re meant to be watched -- not censoriously, with faith but also with caution. That’s because we don’t just use language, we’re used by it. It’s easy to turn words into weapons, armours, territorial markers. But with every parry and thrust, with every act of glibness, with every dogmatic full stop, we move further away from the possibility of surprise. Of discovery. Of the startling confrontation of self with self. Which is what poetry – when it works – is all about.
Arundhat hi Subramaniam is a poet. She has worked over the years as poetry editor, freelance arts writer and cultural curator. She is the author of three books of poems, most recently Where I Live: New and Selected Poems (Bloodaxe Publishers, UK, 2009). She is also the author of a biography on a contemporary mystic, Sadhguru: More Than a Life (Penguin, 2010) and a prose work on the Buddha called The Book of Buddha (Penguin, 2005). She has recently edited an anthology of essays on sacred journeys in the country, Pilgrim’s India (Penguin, 2011) and was co-editor of an anthology of contemporary Indian love poems in English called Confronting Love (Penguin, 2005). She divides her time between Bombay and a yoga centre in south India. Ms. Subramaniam’s poetry has been translated into Hindi, Tamil, Italian and Spanish and featured in several national and international journals and anthologies. She has been awarded the Charles Wallace Fellowship, the Visiting Arts Fellowship and the Raza Award for Poetry. Since 2004 she has been editor of the India domain of the Poetry International Web. She has worked at the National Centre for the Performing Arts, Mumbai, leading a discussion-based interarts forum named Chauraha. She has also been Head of Indian Classical Dance at the NCPA. She has written on literature and classical dance for several years. Arundhathi Subramaniam lives and works in Mumbai, Maharashtra.
A. Balasubramaniam (b. 1971) received his Bachelor’s degree in fine arts from the Government College of Arts, Chennai, in 1995. In 1998 he studied printmaking at EPW Edinburgh, UK, after which he pursued his love for the genre at the Universitat fur Angewandte Kunste in Wien, Austria. He has travelled extensively and exhibited in France, Spain, Egypt, Japan, Malaysia, Finland, Norway and USA. Some of his well known exhibitions include “Contemplating the Void” (Guggenheim Museum, New York, 2010); “*(In)between” (Talwar Gallery, New Delhi, 2009); “Chalo! India: A New Era of Indian Art” (Mori Art Museum (Tokyo); National Museum of Contemporary Art (Korea); Essl Museum, Klosterneuburg/ Wien (Austria, 2008); “Belief”(Singapore Biennale, 2006); “Unfixed Being” (Davidson College, North Carolina, 2005); “Indian Summer” (Ecole des Beaux Arts, Paris,2005); “Into Thin Air” (Talwar Gallery, New York, 2004); and “Traces” (Fundacio Pilar i Joan Miro’s, Spain, 2002), amongst others. Mr. Balasubramaniam was also invited as a Speaker to the TED India Conference in Mysore (2009) and to teach at Cornell University Art Department, Ithaca, New York (2008). He is a recipient of several awards such as the Fundacio pilar i Joan Miro’s Award (Spain), Kunstlerdorf’s Fellowship, Schoppingen (Germany), The Charles Wallace India Trust Arts Fellowship Award (UK), the 2nd Egyptian International Print Triennial Award (Egypt), the Grapheion Review Award in International Print Biennial (Czech Republic) and the Sanskriti Award (India), to mention a few. A. Balasubramaniam lives and works in Bangalore, Karnataka.
Kaivalya Kumar : It is important for musicians to think, all the time, about enriching the content of their music……..You rarely find musicians even attending concerts of other musicians, especially those of comparable stature. Each one is so involved with his own little world, that the sharing of musical ideas is negligible; and that too is taking place by imitation, rather than by an interactive process. From the accounts of our elders, this was not so in earlier days. There was a healthy exchange of ideas even between rivals. Great musicians attended each other’s concerts with great respect. The music of our generation is missing out on something valuable because we are not willing to make such efforts.
Pt. Kaivalya Kumar belongs to a tradition of classical vocal excellence. A true gharanedari, his grandfather Pt.Ganapatrao Gurav was one of the first disciples of Ustad Abdul Karim Khan, the founder of the Kirana Gharana. His father, Sangameshwar, who groomed Kaivalya Kumar into an outstanding vocalist, trained under Pt.Ganapatrao Gurav and was known for singing in the true Kirana tradition. Gifted with a naturally high pitched, mellifluous voice, Pt. Kaivalya Kumar’s rendition of ragas is marked by natural phirat, murki, rigorous tans, infallible rhythm, imaginative content and an aesthetic approach to Hindustani classical music in general. He is one of the youngest Hindustani classical vocalists to get a top grade categorization by All India Radio and Doordarshan, the country’s national television network, by the age of thirtyfive.
Amongst the several honours conferred on Pt. Kaivalya Kumar are included the Aditya Vikram Bhirla Kiran Puraskar (Mumbai), the Sarvashreshtha Kala Puraskaar (Kolkata), the Diva Puraskaar from the Music & Film Industry, the Pandit Jasraj Gourav Puraskaar (Mumbai), the Dattopant Deshpande Smriti Puraskaar (Pune), the Surmani Title (Mumbai), and the Outstanding Performance Award by the Raza Foundation, New Delhi. Pt. Kaivalya Kumar lives in and works in Dharwad, Karnatak.
I always tell my students, first you have to be passionate about yourself, love yourself. You are representing Mohini, so you must have that grace within yourself. You have to start evolving that art within you. Mohiniyattam is the dance of love. It is the dance of enchantment. So you have to tell yourself that you are the enchantress. You have to give value to divinity. Do shringara with divinity.
Gopika Varma is one of the leading Mohiniyattam artists of the younger generation. She started learning Mohiniyattam at the age of ten from Smt. Girija and Smt. Chandrika Kurup, both senior students of Smt. Kalyani Kuttyamma, whose student she continued to be for another ten years. Later she specialised in the form under the guidance of Smt. Kalyani Kuttyamma herself and her daughter Sreedevi Rajan. She also learnt abhinaya, which is the quintessence of Mohiniyattam, from Sri. Kalamandalam Krishnan Nair, the doyen of the Kathakali stage. She has performed extensively at various art festivals, sabhas and temples all over India and has won laurels abroad when ICCR chose her to represent India. Love for this dance form has enabled her to transmit through movements and expressions that at times sigh with nostalgia, purity and sanctity, which translate as her own personal worship of the Divine. She has received a number of awards and recognitions for her contribution to the traditional repertoire of Mohinattam. These include Abhinaya Kala Ratna Excellence Award, and the Nritya Choormani (2010), Sathya Abhinaya Sundaram (2007), the Kalaimammani Award (2004), and the Kaladarpanam Award (2003) amongst others. Ms. Varma is currently running a Mohiniyattam Dance School, Dasyam at Adyar, Chennai. The purpose of the school is to train young aspiring Mohiniyattam artists as well as to provide a platform for those already established and practicing the art. Gopika Varma lives and works in Chennai, Tamil Nadu.