“It takes a very long time to become young.” ~ Picasso

Reposting with a new image. This post is from 2014

Aditi Raychoudhury. My father readied for cremation as I bid my last goodbye. 2019 . Watercolors and Goauche.
Aditi Raychoudhury. My father readied for cremation as I bid my last goodbye. 2019 . Watercolors and Goauche.

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.

Last message from Baba. March 20, 2013.
Last birthday wish from Baba via Skype. March 20, 2013. (A rasgulla is a spherical Bengali dessert)

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.

Inika Moni RayMukerji. Plane. 2013. Crayons on Paper
Inika Moni RayMukerji. Plane. 2013. Crayons on Paper
Inika Moni RayMukerji. Whale. January 2013. Crayons on Paper
Inika Moni RayMukerji. Whale. January 2013. Crayons on Paper
Inika Moni RayMukerji. Pig. 2013. Crayons on Paper
Inika Moni RayMukerji. Pig. 2013. Crayons on Paper
Inika Moni RayMukerji. Pig. 2013. Crayons on Paper
Inika Moni RayMukerji. Pig. 2013. Crayons on Paper
Inika Moni RayMukerji. Helicopter. 2013. Crayons on Paper
Inika Moni RayMukerji. Helicopter. 2013. Crayons on Paper

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. 

 

 

 

Day of Remembrance: Ben Sakugochi

 

Ben Sakugochi. Post Cards from Camp: White Man's Neighbourhood. 16
Ben Sakugochi. Post Cards from Camp: White Man’s Neighbourhood. 16″ x 11″. Acrylic on Canvas.

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.

Continue reading

Satyajit Ray Trilogy (Part Two): “The Apu Trilogy” Story Boards

Satyajit Ray. Birth of Apu. Watercolors.
Satyajit Ray. Birth of Apu. Watercolors.

Four weeks ago, I had published a post about the painstaking restoration of the Apu Trilogy by Bologna’s L’Imagine Ritrovata, using negatives that had been for a good part destroyed by a July 1993 fire in London’s Henderson’s Film Laboratories where the  original negatives of The Apu Trilogy were stored.

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.

Satyajit Ray. The Iconic Train Scene. Watercolors.
Satyajit Ray. The Iconic Train Scene. Watercolors.
Satyajit Ray. The Iconic Train Scene. Watercolors.
Satyajit Ray. The Iconic Train Scene. Watercolors.

 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.

-Excerpted from Rare sketches and photos of the making of Satyajit Ray’s ‘Pather Panchali’


 

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.

Satyajit Ray. Debi.
Satyajit Ray. Debi.

 

Satyajit Ray Trilogy: Part One – “The Apu Trilogy” Available on Streaming

Satyajit Ray. Anu Trilogy. 1956.
Satyajit Ray. Anu Trilogy. 1956.

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.

 

Another (short) Masterpiece from Studio Ghibli

 

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.

Loving Vincent

Aditi Raychoudhury. Copy of Portrait of Vincent Van Gogh. 1984? 1985?. Raurkela, Orissa. Gouache on Paper.

More than a hundred and sixty years ago, in this month, a man was born in the Dutch village of Groot-Zundert that may be best-known for being this man’s hometown.

This man was Vincent Van Gogh – the subject of continuing fascination for lovers and non-lovers of art, writers, movie-makers and movie-goers.. even scientists!

A tableau of flowers representing the face of famous Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh is revealed at Museumplein, Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
A tableau of flowers representing the face of famous Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh is revealed at Museumplein, Amsterdam, the Netherlands. 2015.

 

 

The Eyes of Van Gogh by Alexander Barnett. 2005

 

Vincent and Theo by Robert Altman. 1990.

 

The unexpected math behind Van Gogh’s “Starry Night” by Natalya St. Clair and Avi Ofer. 2014

 

Aditi Raychoudhury. Copy of Portrait of Vincent Van Gogh. 1984? 1985?. Raurkela, Orissa. Gouache on Paper.
Aditi Raychoudhury. Copy of Portrait of Vincent Van Gogh. 1984? 1985?. Raurkela, Orissa. Gouache on Paper.
Study for "Portrait of Vincent Van Gogh (with Candles)". Chalk Pastels and Charcoal on Newsprint. 18" x 24".
Aditi Raychoudhury. Study for “Portrait of Vincent Van Gogh (with Candles)”. Chalk Pastels and Charcoal on Newsprint. 18″ x 24″.

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.

 

Forms in Nature

Forms in Nature by Chromosphere.

Stunning! By Chromosphere.

RIP: Umberto Eco

The Bomb and the General by Umberto Eco. Illustrated by Eugenio Carmi. 1989.

One of my favorite anti-war, picture books. 

The Bomb and the General. by Umberto Eco. Illustrated by Eugenio Carmi. 1989.
The Bomb and the General. by Umberto Eco. Illustrated by Eugenio Carmi. 1989.

 

Excerpt:
“We’ve spent a pile of money
To make these bombs.
Are we going to leave them here to collect mold?
What’s a general like you for, anyway?

“It’s true,”
the general replied.
“We really must start this war.
Otherwise my career will never get anywhere.”

 

The Golden Calf (Return of the Goddess) by Nina Paley

Nina Paley. The Golden Calf (Return of the Goddess). 2015.

What more can I say, except that this is brilliant? Female Gods Rule, but, women… umm… not so much, even today!