New, Improved, Same Old Art

Sunday mornings, up with the lark, photographing my latest crop of paintings, drinking mystic tea, and waiting for Dev to wake up and take over everything. My third set is ready to set sail. Do let me know what you think of them.

Devil King of the Sixth Heaven 2015, 8" x 10" Oil on Canvas, unmounted

Mara has been called the devil king of the sixth heaven in the teachings of Shakyamuni and the writings of Nichiren Daishonin. The sixth heaven is the ultimate selfish manifestation of desire, or the Heaven of Freely Enjoying Things Conjured by Others, and its ruler delights in manipulating others to submit to his will. In my pursuit of art, it also pertains to the resistance to paint or draw or write for that matter. In Buddhism, devils indicate those functions that block or hinder people’s efforts to complete their Buddhist practice, including propagating the teachings.

Man, Child and Door 2015, 8" x 11" Oil on Canvas, unmounted

The last two years have been the most wonderful time of our lives, with each other and with the coming of Dev. It has been a time of doors - opening, closing, as our inner landscapes evolve. We have been fortunate to be able to spend all our time together over this time, and many a times, the canvas and the brush would decide that is what it wanted to become.

Self Portrait 2015, 8" x 10" Oil on Canvas, unmounted

Studying art marketing with my agent has been fun, fun, fun. It turns out Buddha faces are the easiest to sell. But then, I don't have a clue what Buddha looked like beyond the one I see every morning in the mirror.

View of Tirumala Hills 2015, 10" x 8" Oil on Canvas, board-mounted

I am an out and out Tirupati obsessive, I love the place, the energy and the healing nature all around. This time, I quickly made notes of what I was seeing and tried to paint it.

Windows Vista 2015, 8" x 11" Pencil and Ink on Paper, unmounted
My homage to the information highway, online holiday planning, the Hyderabad metro rail, and to all 50 million plus displaced people (not counting the pigeons of course) on this planet who wonder what their next step should be.

My First Virtual Flash Art Exhibition And Sale

"Then you have an artist who says he doesn't want to paint at all." ~ Mark Knopfler, In The Gallery

I have a tea business and a digital marketing business. And while I have tea and worry about how to keep my digital marketing business afloat, I write and draw. I first shared my artwork on this blog when writing about Hindi poetry bloggers, and since I didn't get any adverse comments, I thought I would put some more out. As a digital marketeer I will do what I can to sell my work using social media. Once the groundwork is over, I will carry on with my life, only to come back in 24 hours to shut shop. (Update: The exhibition was ultimately kept open for 36 hours in order to include 12 hours of Monday - from Sunday early morning to Monday evening.)

These are from the last 10 years of my journey as an art student and aspiring artist and as a social entity living in the most challenging of times. Like my writing, my painting tends to be aimed at dissecting ideas rather than achieving anything of substance. As an amateur (one who is in love with what he does as opposed to professional), I feel totally within my rights. However, I accede to my times the right to not know WTF I am talking about.

This is a flash sale. Prices do not include shipping, framing, or digital reproduction rights. Most of these works are available online for lower priced reproductions. Prices of originals apply only to this experimental sale. I will do my best to update in real time, and I promise to put out more work if and as I clear my inventory. Commission undertaken subject to availability. (Update: I sold six paintings in the 36 hours out of the 9 that I exhibited. Two of these were by family members so they don't count. One was not for sale. That makes 4 out of 8, house-half-full. Pleased and grateful.) 

More than anything else, I would like this exhibition to be the beginning of a new conversation, a new dialog, one without a discriminatory or judging tone, to discuss where art goes from where it has been over the last few very exciting decades. I invite art students, scholars and lovers to jump in. Let us find, nurture and cherish the art that should define our time.

For everyone who happened upon this post, enjoy!!

"Family" 2015, Oil on Canvas, 11" x 14" Mounted, 10,000 SOLD

"Ascetic" 2015 Oil on canvas board, 8" x 11" 40,000 SOLD

"Study for Three Treasures" 2015 Oil on canvas board 12" x 15" 10,000 SOLD

"Study for Ascetic" 2015 Oil on canvas board, 8" x 11" 5000

"Study for Queen of Arts" 1985, Ink on Paper, 8" x 11", Not for Sale

"Forest" 2011 Mixed media on cardboard, 8" x 11", unmounted, 5000 SOLD

"The raised hand/A double edged sword," 2007, Watercolor on paper, 8" x 11" unmounted, 2000

"Study for Forest" 2011 Mixed media on card, 8" x 11" unmounted, 2000 SOLD
"Self Portrait" 2011, Pencil on paper, 8" x 11", unmounted, 10,000 SOLD

An Artist's Date With Good

Every single day, for the last week, I pause at the top of the page. No, not time yet. I am referring to the things that I do outside this blog, and some of what is shaping up is really, really gratifying. Not only am I more than halfway into my 2015 targets on most fronts, I am also on my way to fulfilling a few dreams that are more than a decade old on the drawing board. But, wait, I can drop broad hints. Creative arts. Tea. Music. At a studio. Someplace nice. Soon. Out of my page now.

The fun thing about spontaneous writing is that what is most pressing tends to pop right out, whether you want it to or not, and right now – top of my mind – it is to continue exploring the question of reading, judgment, and the social responsibility of the artist. God. That is going to take a while. That is also going to be a whole lot of crib. Tea is ready. All rise.

Over the last few years, we have been actively seeking out and associating with creative communities, mostly writers, artists, filmmakers, poets. The purpose of this is to build up a network of people who will contribute to putting art back where it belongs, among the people. In the process, I am encountering various kinds of artists. Some of my encounters are extremely heartening. Some are downright shocking. Yet through it all, they are instructional. They help me understand the criticality of non-judgement, and help me accept the truth that all of us have a right to coexist meaningfully. Since I write more than draw or dance or sing, I can reflect on how I relate this with the need to judge when writing (or reading, knitting, whatever).

The world of contemporary creative writing, especially in India, is a divided one. On one hand you have the writers whose works need a footnote for every sentence. On the other, you have writers who write about irrelevant inanities and keep pinging you on the social networks to “like” their marketing pages. In between these two extremes, you have a silent majority who put out their work in journals, blogs, and self published books, much of which stands out for their mastery of the craft.

An Artist's Date With Reading

I continue to be pleased with the last two pieces (on writing and on tea), and at the same time, a little disappointed as I read them back to myself today. They did not hold up as cohesive pieces either by themselves or as a part of this series. It set out in one direction and ended up quite somewhere else. But one of the decisions I took when I started this series was to allow each work to assume its own life, to let it decide for itself what ingredients would go into its making, how long to simmer and when it was done.

What still pleases me was the fact that they got me to write about two “paradoxical” things about my life as a writer. Strangely, neither of them have anything to do with tea. I am referring to my poor publishing frequency and my absence of reading. Over the last several years, I have recommitted myself to writing, and we have slowly been blessed with a network of fellow writers. This blessing has resulted in the recognition of a few contrasts. Some of my fellow writers are terribly committed to what they believe in, much more than I am. I am happy shirking the call of writing much of the time. Most of them are extremely well read; I on the other hand have scant familiarity with contemporary writing, and it would not be entirely wrong to say that I tend to avoid it. I read what those who I trust recommend, and yes, I am often not disappointed.

Most of the writers I know frequent the company of fellow writers at conventions and literary gatherings. I, on the other hand, feel extremely out of place at such dos. I find them pretentious and self defeating. There goes any hope of being praised by my peers. The purpose of writing to me is to bring wholeness to the reader and to help him or her find the resources needed to take the leap, to make the change. This is a very personal belief, born out of how I felt reading Kafka or Dostoevsky, Celan or Brodsky and this is the belief that makes me give myself to writing.

An Artist's Date With Tea

I was among the ones gloating as day 5, 6, 7 and 8 of the Artist's Date series rolled past. I knew I wouldn't make it. I was writing every day, but elsewhere, breathlessly, desperately, pointlessly. I thought about this blog every morning as the flavors and smells of my tea mingled with the wind and brass, bass and drum of my staple fare. How I wait for winter, when listening to music becomes a pristine activity, especially early mornings and late nights. So as I determine to spend more time (if not every day) here, I feel like writing about tea, music, technology, anything, anything but writing. These are the things that really turn me on, writing is more like work on most days. Chore. So, without any further ado, here's what every asdfasd thinaking adtiv ofa dasdl tea drinking creative artist needs to know about tea - and for all who have been with me so far, a three, a four, a five, six, seven, eight.


Tea is classified typically into white, green and black teas. The same, with a few variations, applies to e-stores like Blend Of Tea that home deliver premium tea. More than 90% of the world’s tea production is used to make black tea. At home, we drink black tea on an everyday basis, several cups of it every day. Even though we receive and stock the finest green teas, they are usually relegated to the occasional use shelves. What makes black tea such a hot favorite, pipping its allegedly more salubrious cousin, green tea to become the most widely consumed type of tea?

The secret lies in what tea does to you – stimulating and relaxing you as you need at that point in time. Black tea is significantly more stimulating than green tea, and several times more stimulating than white tea.It compels your mind to recognize its forays into the tea gardens, the misty mountain mornings, the sunny hillsides, and come back to the brew at hand and the ugly city soundscapes. The repeated straying and returning is a kind of mental push-up, strengthening that faculty of ours which defines, interprets and judges everything. This is one of the fundamental practices of mindfulness.

An Artist's Date With Writing

Less than a week into my determination to write a post a day that will meet your and my approval, I am blessed with an excuse to not write. Discomfort. Not sure it has anything to do with anything, but from yesterday, I have developed a not-nice physical sensation made worse by sitting at the computer. When it struck me last night, I experienced a secret moment of relief, that I can take today off from my writing challenge without any sense of having let me down. I happily occupied myself otherwise, helping Hyderabad poetry lovers to get to listen to Neal Hall and Rochelle Potkar read their political poetry on June 21, and it wasn’t till now, early in my afternoon (it is just past 10 a.m. IST), that I sat to take a look at my schedule for the day and what’s left of the week. I almost crossed out my artists’ date item, when it struck me I was actually pleased I didn’t have to write. So I sit, Dev in arm.

A few years back, we made the acquaintance of a talented poet whose obsession with the art rapidly made us friends. Expressive and vocal, able to draw us quickly into deep and meaningful conversation, not an easy task, it made for a fun friendship. At one point, this poet was traveling on work, and after a couple of days silence, there was an update on social media. It was something to the effect of “I feel like dying.” Of course, poets say it very differently. Knowing obsessive nature and the depth of this person's struggle with expression, we were naturally concerned. There was a storm of “whys?” and “what happeneds?” from friends. When the poet finally did respond after several agonizing hours, the explanation was not having written anything in over three days. Come on, now!! I don't get to play my organ every day, ever heard me complain?

Like most good Bengali boys, I read and wrote poetry as an adolescent. Almost every day, or more accurately – all the time. In Bengali and in English, more English, but wrote many years in both. I was fortunate to have a mentor in my father, who guided me to the masters, and by the time I was a teenager, I had read a lot of what I wanted my writing to measure up against. I struggled till my early 20s, and by the time I was in my late 20s, I gave up. I gave up writing altogether because I realized I would never be able to write what I wanted to, the way I wanted to, that it was beyond my abilities, especially so in my mother tongue. I resigned myself to the fact that I was not the guy I wanted to believe I was - in Bengali, English, Dakhni or Esperanto. Additionally, I discovered material success could buy you purpose and meaning faster than poetry could. Or so it seemed then.

I did not write anything of consequence for the next 15 years. I felt awkward whenever friends and family would ask me if and what I was writing. I would write the cursory one or two poems a year, on birthdays or when great change took place in my world, more habitual wordplay than true poetry perhaps. The important thing here is in all those years, I never felt the urge to write, or experienced any distress about the fact I was not writing. So when I read my young poet friend’s social media SOS, I realized how differently the call to write affects different people. Anyway, let’s return to what we were looking at.

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