A Series of Paintings on Postcards – A Sampling of Spanish Painters

I’ve been frying eggs for most days of my married life! And there’s nothing quite like a fried egg when made to order. Today I’m not exactly presenting you with a Spanish Omelet but rather a paella of Spanish painters, tossed together with joyful memories of their art.

VELÁZQUEZ_-_Vieja_friendo_huevos_(National_Galleries_of_Scotland,_1618._Óleo_sobre_lienzo,_100.5_x_119.5_cm)
Diego Velázquez – Google Art Project, commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=19980800

From Flemish to Spanish is not really from the frying pan to the fire but here is a painting that shows eggs being fried! This is the second postcard from my collection.

Diego Velazquez painted An Old Woman Cooking Eggs before he was 20 years old. It is clearly a demonstration piece. Everything is on display. The contents of the scene are laid out around the canvas like decorations on a Christmas tree. Let the eye circulate, checking each thing off: melon, glass flask, wooden spoon, terracotta pot, brass pan, egg, china plate, red garlic, brass mortar, red onion, earthenware jugs, tin dippers, woven straw basket, linen cloth.

From the INDEPENDENT

You can stroll through his other works here

This particular painting is termed A Masterpiece in Texture and Culinary History

Learn more about Diego Velázquez (1599 – 1660), such a compassionate, yet unflinching painter

Here is a video about one of his other famous paintings

Velázquez was a painter of the Baroque period – a period in Western European art and music from roughly 1600 to 1750. But, for me, he is mainly a Spanish artist – along with others whose art has given me such a world of joy:

El Greco (1541 – 1614)

El_Greco_(Domenikos_Theotokopoulos)_-_Laocoön_-_Google_Art_Project
El Greco (Domenikos Theotokopoulos) – Laocoön – Google Art Project

I chose this one because it is very powerful. Slightly disturbing too – qualities I associate with Spanish painters.

There seem to be two films about him and here is a trailer from one:

I’m putting Goya (1746 – 1828) next – a painter for whom I do have a special spot. However, I’ve merely chosen the one that remains representative to me of the Spanish Civil War.

1165px-El_Tres_de_Mayo,_by_Francisco_de_Goya,_from_Prado_thin_black_margin
The Third of May by Francisco Goya, commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=18777858

And, if we are speaking of  Spanish painters, how can we not mention Pablo Picasso (1881 – 1973) and Salvador Dali (1904 – 1989)?

guernica
Picasso’s Guernica, image from Mark Barry, flickr.com/photos/markart/236849245

Picasso’s Guernica was inspired by the bombing of Guernica, in Spain, April 26, 1937. It was the time of the Spanish Civil War. The bombing killed some 1600 people and destroyed the city. The Spanish Republican government commissioned the mural for the Spanish Pavilion of the Paris International Exposition.

Explore the range of Pablo Picasso’s art.

With both Picasso and Dali, I find it hard to get a good print to share with you! Here is a famous Dali:

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Salvador Dali’s Slave Market with the Disappearing Bust of Voltaire, wikiart.org/en/salvador-dali/slave-market-with-the-disappearing-bust-of-voltaire-1940

A short piece by Andy Warhol explores some of these ‘modern’ artists:

There are many books about these artists and here is one, merely as a sample:

 

 

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A Series of Paintings on Postcards – Petrus Christus, Portrait of a Young Girl

During my early childhood, my father received dairies every year. These were wonderful to me as each showcased  some aspect of India’s art and architecture. And then it was my sister’s school book which furthered my love for art as it had passages about paintings with some very good colour plates. Alas that textbooks in India today lack such quality.

My journey of exploration of world art settled on European painters for many years as our school had some fine art books and a serene room in which students could sit and explore such volumes. Somewhere along the way, people started sending me picture postbards with famous paintings.

Today I share with you, not the first such postcard that I received, but one that is earliest in terms of the period of the painter.

Petrus_Christus_-_Portrait_of_a_Young_Woman_-_Google_Art_Project.jpg
By Petrus Christus – UAGsuoFcmmRiTg at Google Cultural Institute, zoom level maximum, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=13333895

I will not go into detail about Petrus ChristusPortrait of a Young Girl, as there is a long and thorough discussion about it on Flemish Primitive Mystery Painting. He is said to be influenced by Jan van Eyck.

I have certainly seen a Jan van Eyck or two in my time.  Continue reading

The Last Cop – Action, Fun and More

This 2016 Japanese drama surfs not only the cop genre but also that of Rip Van Winkle. You know, waking up after a ‘long sleep’ as in Hibernatus , for example, a 1969 French-Italian film starring the one and only Louis de Funès.

There is also a Japanese film and I cannot recall its name nor that of the actor! Hopefully, someone will tell me on Quora.

However, The Last Cop is a remake of a German series

The Japanese remake is very entertaining and quite well made too. 

Another whacky angle in this drama is provided a most plain looking woman. This is the wife of the cop who has come out of a coma of many years. He finds her remarried. To another detective! But that’s not all: long ago, he’d won her in a fair fight with another friend. And so we have this absolutely ordinary looking woman who has something like three men in her life! It’s very funny to absorb and watch in action.

The hero’s sidekick is a well known actor: the versatile Masataka Kubota.

Masataka_Kubota-p02

Since many seem to have seen Death Note (not in my favourite genres), he stars in it:

It’s such despair for me not to be able to access screenshots or links to sales of DVDs or anything else that can help me get you to love Japanese dramas as much as I do.

Another fantastic cop show is 7 Detectives or Keiji 7 nin.

Here are some videos that might help you get as addicted as I am:

 

What Really Happened or How Nice It Is Not To Have Anybody To Blame

Otousan wa Nido Shinu or Father Dies Two Times is a Japanese drama in four episodes.

A man is stabbed. His family of wife and two adult children attend his funeral. What happened? Why is this father never present in any family photo? Why was he stabbed? Who is the lady presiding over the funeral? Was he stabbed or …?

Replete with twists and turns, this drama takes you through a minor crisis only to resolve it most sweetly and benignly. The bereaved wife, who looks quite in control of herself, who is ever reassuring her daughter and son that their father really loves them, appears to us to be heaving with sobs as we see her from the back, huddled and racked with grief. Actually, she’s eating sweet bean paste buns!

The absent father whose funeral forms the background of the drama is a high class actor.

Sadly I can’t offer you any videos of the drama – Do try and see it though!

And then on to another and again it’s no big deal though the triggering crisis is worthy of a mighty explosion. And so on for a set number of times and, finally, it’s daijobu really.

It’s really zen, zen, daijobu!

Which is the name of another must-see Japanese film. The link has a trailer with English subtitles.

Kenichi Endo has not much of a role at all here but do try and watch Tamiou, where he’s an apparently heartless minister and his spirit gets exchanged with that of his good for nothing son and Otosan to Yobasete, where he’s son-in-law-to-be of a man somewhat younger than himself.

The DVDs seem expensive! But worth it if one has the money as most Japanese films and dramas are worth watching over and over again.

Tip For Indian TV: Take A Page From J Dorama!

Growing up in India in the sixties it was a taken that few had access to education. When I entered graduation years, the sister of a young girl who worked as our maid went to the same college as I. By the late nineties, I’d spent a few afternoons participating in an initiative to bring schooling to the children of migrant labourers in Gurgaon. Enter the mid 2000s and it was not uncommon to see classes being conducted on the roadsides, in the open. Fast forward to somewhere in 2010 and all children went to school – some went after hours. Zip to now and all children go to school when it’s school time.

Today, most people in their twenties and maybe even thirties, in India, have attended school. And I can well imagine an Indian version of Grade A Reversal or Gekokujo Juken being a hit here.

Shinichi Sakurai is a real estate agent who has not studied past middle school. Neither has his home maker wife. Kaori, their daughter and only child, is not so good at school either.

One fine day, her terrible grades stir a bee in her father’s bonnet and this lets loose a whole wasp’s nest of hilarious measures he takes to see her pass an entrance exam.

His pretty wife is at first of the opinion that the child requires to focus on friendships and the now and that making her attend “cram school” will be harmful to her.

There is also the question of expense.

Somehow a whole lot of people get tugged into this exuberant current of a father who wants to be worthy of his kid by struggling through schooling along with her.

All sections of society are represented from the super richie rich classmate of the kid whose father happens to have been classmate of Kaori’s father to the cute school teacher, almost a kid herself, whose attitude is well representative of teacher mentalities even here in India, to Sakurai’s workmates, his carpenter father…

Such a TV drama can be made anywhere in India and would be a huge hit if suitably adapted to our current conditions. I’d suggest only the most minor of tweaks.

Sadao Abe is such a great actor that I’d watch anything that has him in it. Crazy For Me or Kokoro ga Pokkito ne deserves a blog all to itself. A superlative experience.

It’s hard to get good trailers/teasers of Japanese shows 😦

Kyoko Fukada is just too cute as is to say more about but it’s not that she’s not a great actor in her own right.

I’m so sorry I can’t give you anything other than this but she’s just toooo pretty! Khaaaaaaaawaaaaaaaiiiiiiii!
Kyoko Fukada - red carpet at Harry Potter 2007 Tokyo
Grandfather, Kaoru Kobayashi, is a veteran  and entertains as always.

Midnight Diner is a must watch, drama or film, season 1, 2 or 3 and, hopefully, the new Part 2 of the film.

Japanese dramas routinely tackle school stories.

However, the sad fact remains that most of us cannot access J dramas, easily or at all. And this blinds us to a wealth of beauty.

In the name of copyright, piracy and DMCA, we’re being herded into a narrow pen where we shall, in the name of so-called law and order, only watch anything made in India (or whatever region you are in) or from Holy Hollywood and ilk.

Growing Hope And Nourishing Sustainability

Late November 2016 saw us in Chennai for a workshop on writing science. This was held in the MSSRF building there. The M. S. Swaminathan Research Foundation brings together people interested and engaged in sustainable livelihoods among other things. And, indeed, throughout our brief stay there, we not only interacted with such men and women as part of the workshop but also witnessed the coming and going of others. Each one involved in something thrilling like coastal systems, fisheries or forests.

As for the workshop, you will find more about it here.

This blog post is about the garden in the main Foundation building.

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We were told that the garden reflects a classification of lands into 5 categories in ancient Tamil literature dating some 2000 years back. Sangam literature, we were informed, contains references to this phenomenon.  

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Kurinji or hilly areas, Mullai or forests, Marutham or croplands, Neithal or seashores and Pālai or deserts.

There were even iconic animals for each region: Monkey, elephant, horse and bull for Kurinji, deer for Mullai, water buffalo, freshwater fish for Marutham, crocodile, shark for Neithal and fatigued elephant, tiger, or wolf for Palai.

Tolkappiyam deals with it in detail.

It was indeed very gratifying to see that this foundation has replicated those categories in the small garden that nestles in the heart of the main building!

MSSRF works hard and with youthful vigour, celebrating global initiatives like the Year of Pulses and Pulses Panchayat through the many men and women engaged in implementing and broadcasting its mission.

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There is also a Touch and Smell garden for the visually impaired in another part of the complex.

Such keen engagement with the human and geographical environment interface is surely a reflection of aspirations of the Foundation!

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Unexpected Faces Of Death In Japanese Films

What if Death was not a Bogeyman?

What if Death was a cute little girl?

A down on his luck Samurai, one day, drunkenly invokes the gods. Inebriated, he does not realise that he has called on the gods of misfortune!

After a roller coaster ride through the many and hilarious things that befall him the hero comes face to face with the worst of them all. A film to be enjoyed again and again and again.

Sadly, the above trailer is not subtitled but do try to get your hands on this film!

Japan seems to have evolved a concept of shinigamis. There are many dramas about these beings who help humans through the time of transition between life and death.

In this film where God is possibly a cute dog and the hero, a most adorable Shinigami, could it be that a human has finally found a way to outwit Death?

Watch Sweet Rain if only for the exquisite beauty of Takeshi Kaneshiro.

Among dramas, I’ve watched and enjoyed the following:

Loss:Time:Life

Ryusei Wagon

One such is actually ongoing and quite cute

Omukae desu

Please do find a way to watch these films and dramas and if you’ve seen any of them I’d love to discuss them with you.