Aditi Raychoudhury. You are missing (Detail). November, 2020. Watercolor and Gouache.
Having lost my mother to cancer at 26, and my father to a heart attack 16 years later, I am no stranger to losing those we hold dear. While I still miss them after all these years, I was able to hug them and kiss them as I said my final goodbye.. a privilege that so many families across the world have not had as their loved one fell victim to this deadly virus. I can’t imagine the heartbreak of not being able to hold your loved one and say that final good bye.
As you struggle through this festival dedicated to gratitude and love of family, I can’t say that you will stop missing those you have lost. But as the years go by, may that empty chair that you are can barely look at through your tears today, fill up with love and cherished memories that you share with generations around the table, just like I share the memories of the grandparents my daughter couldn’t meet.
Much love to all Americans during this difficult Thanksgiving. Cherish love, and have a safe Thanksgiving.
“Pictures on the nightstand, TV’s in the den, Your house is waiting, your house is waiting, For you to walk in, for you to walk in, But you are missing, you’re missing..”
Reposting with a new image. This post is from 2014
When my father died last summer, so did my childhood. Pouf! Just like that! UNEXPECTEDLY, in that very moment as I stared at the slowly forming words, ” Your father passed away”. To this, and, with this one person in the world, I was, and, could always be, a child – not just middle-aged progeny, whose achievements (or lack there of) one could gloat or bemoan about. And his very last birthday wish to me said just as much.
It recalled an incident from nearly forty years ago. I was around 2 years old, hovering around my brother, who had just started kindergarten, struggling to write his lower case ‘a’ in cursive. Fluttering about him, I boasted that it was so easy that even I could do it. Surprised, my parents asked, “How so?” “An ‘a’ is nothing (Yes, kids can be insensitive!). During my last birthday, this incident was still fresh in his mind.
And, just like that 2-year-old, who hadn’t transcended the plasticity of time inside his mind, I continued to make demands long after I had left home. In the US, it was for the things that were almost impossible to find outside of Bengal – Gobindo Bhog Chaal (an incredibly fine-grained fragrant rice), Shona Moongeyr Daal (fine grained gold colored mung bean lentils), Moori (Bengali puffed rice), Mukhorochok (a sweet, salty, and sour snack mix) and Mokaibari tea. I knew that despite his failing health, and limited mobility, he would never fail me. And, sure as ever, he would arrive, with these common Bengali treats, packed in (and sometimes, disastrously strewn all over) his suitcase. Along with them, would also arrive a few banal trinkets that weren’t special to anybody, but me.
When he died last year, 16 years after my mother did, not only did I become a middle-aged orphan – but, I also lost that last refuge where I could always be a child.
That child who led a simple life, in a simple town, in a simpler time. That child who spent most of her afternoons reading, drawing, chasing butterflies, climbing trees, eating guavas, and, running around the neighborhood sucking nectar out of wild flowers. That child, who stared, with wondrous rapture at the birds flying across a bright fuschia sky, and, knew that it was time to wander her way back home from the hills behind her house, where she had just whiled away many happy hours. That child whose heart burnt just as brightly as that spotless evening sky.
As a parent to a pre-schooler, I know that it may be many years before I can shrug-off the self-generated urge to stress over school, organize my space to mimic an IKEA display, and make my meals look like they had just jumped out of the pages of Vegetarian Times, and release my heart instead, to long afternoons amidst the wild flowers of California, and, sink my feet into the wet ocean sand.
On the other hand, as a parent to a pre-schooler, it might just be more possible than ever to relive those childhood wonders of peering through grass, looking for snails, squeezing my eyes as the ocean surf hits my face, and dissolving into laughter at the first lick of ice-cream on a hot day.
While I no longer draw with the passion and freedom that I did as a child, my daughter’s free forms lead me to where I want to be.
Here are some of the things she drew when she was a little over two years old.
Picasso had said, “It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child.” May be by the time she is my age, I will learn to draw and laugh like her again.
I was in Los Angeles for the President’s Day weekend and was fortunate enough to catch the last day of Drawing the Line at the Japanese American National Museum, in Los Angeles, California.Drawing the Line was part of Pacific Standard Time – an unprecedented collaboration, initiated by the Getty, to bring together more than sixty cultural institutions from across Southern California for six months from October – April 2011 to tell the story of the birth of the L.A. art scene. Los Angeles, can be pretty cool that way. The exhibition was a selection of the dynamic and diverse Japanese American contributions to the visual landscape of L.A. in the period following World War II.
Two of my favorite artists were Ben Sakugochi and Qris Yamashita.
Ben Sakoguchi was born in 1938, in San Bernardino California. During World War II, his family was incarcerated by the United States government because of their Japanese ancestry, so he spent his early childhood in an internment camp at Poston, Arizona.
Between the lab, a duplicate negative and digital remastering, The Apu Trilogy, has been restored to its former glory.
And, this summer, we shall see the sketches, notes and scribbles that culminated in this groundbreaking trilogy. The Pather Panchali Sketchbook has been culled together from posters, sketches and on-location photographs of the 1965 release, and a scanned copy of the sketchbook Satyajit Ray had donated to the Cinematheque Francais in Paris.
Which child, who grew up in India before air travel became the norm, can forget the joy of traveling by train through India? A joy that swelled in equal measure on both sides of that barred train window, and was expressed through waves exchanged between the rural children who stared at this iron beast speeding through their fields and little passengers like me who delighted in their lush green pond-filled villages.
The Pather Panchali Sketchbook provides a glimpse of how Ray imagined his adaptation of Bibhutibhushan Bandyopadhyay’s novel of the same name to be. The publication includes Ray’s original drawings that served as the visual blueprint for the screenplay, photographs of the cast and crew on location, and his illustrations from Aam Aantir Bhenpu, a children’s edition of the novel.
He did some sketches in a drawing book after he had come back from London in 1950 and illustrated a succession of pictures (in pen, brush and ink) for the sequences of frames as they would come up in the film. He used to take them to the producers and explain the sequences. The producers he approached, however, had no interest, nor could they understand the whole process.
Some of the shot divisions were scribbled on chits of paper and cigarette packs.
While most of the world’s attention stays on the The Apu Trilogy, I remember seeing his sketches in a book that came out in the 80s and has been updated since – Satyajit Ray: The Inner Eye: The Biography of a Master Film-Maker, that captured not just his directorial genius, but, was an attempt to deal with a Renaissance man: a writer, composer, artist, typeface, graphic and set designer, and film maker. This particular one, of the dishevelled, crazed Doyamoyi from Debi, has always stayed in my memory.
Yesterday I was looking for covers of Sandesh (Children’s Magazine), which, were designed by Satyajit Ray. Today I see this. “Although it premiered 60 years ago this week at the Museum of Modern Art, Satyajit Ray‘s Pather Panchali remains among both the most accomplished of debuts and cinema’s most universally relatable experiences. Accentuating the basics of human emotions to result in the most complex of reactions, Ray’s subsequent trilogy of films follows the hardships of a Bengali boy as he passes into adulthood, a delicately powerful tale of transition that’s now been gloriously restored.” BEST.TRILOGY.EVER. Now you can watch it on Amazon. That man was talented beyond belief – artist, movie maker, typographer, set designer, writer, storyboard artist…. anything in the arts- he had done it fabulously, and on a shoestring budget, no less – well…. hmm.. he didn’t act. More on the Trilogy here.
As a long time fan of scroll books and Studio Ghibli, I am expectedly taken in by their latest short inspired by a 12th century manga called Chōjū-Jinbutsu-Giga Emaki, or Scrolls of Cartoons of Birds, Animals, and People. It is one of the first shorts produced for Marubeni Power . The full short will air on April 1st, 2016. In the meantime enjoy 30 seconds of beauty.
The short was directed by Katsuya Kondo, character designer and animation director on Kiki’s Delivery Service and Ponyo, and producer Toshio Suzuki was the voice speaking the company name at the end. The background music is by acclaimed pianist Nobuyuki Tsujii and the tagline reads “There is a Japan I want to leave behind for future generations.”
Chōjū Giga, which depicted life as it was eight centuries ago through anthropomorphic animals, is recognized as one of the oldest known manga in the world. The emakimono, or handpainted, scrolls from which it originated are considered national treasures and can be found in the Tokyo and Kyoto National Museums.
Studio Ghibli co-founder Isao Takahata is a noted fan, alongside Hayao Miyazaki, and has written a book on emaki scrolls as well as drawing inspiration from them in making The Tale of the Princess Kaguya. Scholars continue to debate whether this or the Shigisan-Engi- emaki can be considered the first manga published.
The unexpected math behind Van Gogh’s “Starry Night” by Natalya St. Clair and Avi Ofer. 2014
A new animated movie, Loving Vincent, offers a fresh recreation of his life by painstakingly weaving oil paintings inspired by his work into an animated movie. This is the first fully painted feature film in the world, directed by Polish painter and director Dorota Kobiela and Hugh Welchman (Oscar winner for producing “Peter and the Wolf”). The film is produced by Oscar-winning Studios Breakthru Films and Trademark Films.
Looks amazing, doesn’t it? I can’t wait to see it.