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.
A tableau of flowers representing the face of famous Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh is revealed at Museumplein, Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
“July 29, 2015, is the 125th anniversary of Vincent van Gogh’s death. This past spring I fulfilled one of my lifelong dreams by taking a trip to Europe to follow in Van Gogh’s footsteps. As a teenager I checked out every library book about Van Gogh, and eventually read the unabridged three-volume set of letters he wrote to his brother, Theo. With so much time having passed, I was eager to see if anything from Van Gogh’s time had survived. Could I stand where he did and still make out the fields he painted, or would I be standing in the center of an unrecognizable suburb or, worse, inside a shopping mall?”