Friday, February 25, 2011

The Art and its Aesthetic Journey

By Sona Yeritsyan
Soon after finishing the opening ceremony of her wonderful exhibition, Contemporary Warli folk artist Ms. Babita Biswas wanted to see Yerevan, as well as get informed about Armenian culture. Members of India - Armenia Friendship helped her in this, among those I was also actively participated. She was very active and eager to see every corner of Yerevan. 
We started our trip from the Republic Square, where famous painter paid a big attention at the Art of Armenian architecture. She was mostly impressed by hearing that an ancient city was discovered underground, in the centre of the Republic Square. Continuing through our way, we walked along the Northern Avenue, and reached the musical monument of Yerevan - Opera House. Here Ms. Biswas saw monuments of two big representatives of Armenian Culture: Hovhannes Tumanyan and Aleksandr Spendiaryan. Our third station was Painting's show near famous painter Martiros Saryan's statue in the park after M.Saryan. Our steps slowed down. We were stopping near every painting and she was explaining the meaning of each, in which style it was painted etc. The most impressive thing was that the Indian painter met with Armenian painters and they had a little talk about paintings of both side.
In Cascade she liked sculptures sample of modern art and admired the beautiful scene in top of it. There was Yerevan with Its new and old buildings, and behind of it historical mountain Ararat. The painter was bowled over by its beauty. She saw Matenadaran and was informed a little about invention of Armenian Alphabet. Most of all Ms Babita was eager to see our churches. As you know we have many of them, but we visited the church of St. Gregory the Illuminator. Here we explained her about St.Gregory, Tiridates III and how Armenia became Christian country. In church we witnessed an Armenian wedding ceremony. 

Though we were already tired, but it didn't stop us to continue our trip. Continuing our way we went to Vernisage. Here Ms. Babita liked souvenirs sample of Armenian Culture, wooden handicrafts and Armenian musical instruments. During this whole tour Ms. Babita was trying to keep every moment, everything and everyone, even taxi drivers and shop assistants in her memory. Returning back to hotel our Ms Babita tried to make us feel ourselves a little part of Indian culture and drew Bindis on our foreheads: not simple ones but in Warli style.
At the end of the day she was full of happiness but a bit regretted too, because she had only one day for visiting Yerevan's beautiful sights. Nevertheless it was big honor for us to spend a whole day with Ms. Biswas and show her Yerevan, though the time was not enough to make it complete.

During her five day visit to Armenia, Contemporary Warli folk artist Ms. Babita Biswas contributed to the deepening of Indian - Armenian cultural ties. On the fourth day of her visit, embassy of India in Armenia organized special meeting - presentation for students, among them I was too present. It took place at Yerevan State Medical University. Ms. Babita specially organized a presentation for students. The artist shared some of her professional secrets of Warli art with both Indian and Armenian students. The most interesting fact was that, the Armenian students showed no less activity than Indian ones. 

Ms. Biswas explained in details the significance and importance of Warli art to all those present, as well as gave us information about its origin and further development. Warli art was first discovered in the early seventies. Maharashtrian women were mainly engaged in the creation of these paintings which did not depict mythological characters or images of deities, but depicted social life. There were many pictures shown which were telling us about different manifestations of Warli art. Then Ms. Babita showed us how we could draw animals, plants and humans (men) in Warli style. It was not a big issue for us to perceive that. Everyone was impressed. Though it was simple, it was meaningful and substantial in the same time.

Everything was explained and showed in details, so there was no question left to be asked. Some interesting questions were voiced, among them this one was the most impressive: whether Ms. Biswas could go for sightseeing in Yerevan during this short time, and if it's possible to draw those beautiful sights in Warli style. Famous painter liked this question very much and answered with regret. She told that unfortunately she could stay in Yerevan only for few days, and must leave the next day of presentation. She would be glad to stay a little bit longer, but the lack of time couldn’t stop her to fall in love with Yerevan, and assured us that she would draw Yerevan in Warli style. She was planning to return to Yerevan with her family in near future.

This answer pleased everyone present there, and was the final note for special organized presentation.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

A Saga of Immortal Love

Triangle, circle, point and line, trees and animals, people, sun and moon.
Simple and colorful images, which are reported immortal saga of love and glorify Krishna.

Within the framework of the agreement on expansion of the cultural ties signed between Armenia and India in 2010 November, Yerevan is hosting the exhibition of paintings of Indian contemporary artist Babita Biswas.  The inauguration of the exhibition took place in the National Gallery of Armenia on February 10. The exhibition is organized by The Ministry of Culture of Republic of Armenia, the Embassy of India in Armenia and ICCR (Indian Council for Culture Relation). The opening ceremony was attended  by Foreign Deputy Minister Mr Sergey Manasaryan, Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Culture Mr Arthur Poghosyan, the ambasador of Inida to Armenia, H.E. Mr Achal K. Malhotra, the director of the Gallery Mr Pharavon Mirzoyan.

The opening ceremony

In the opening speech the head of the Armenian National Gallery Paravon Mirzoyan mentioned that the Painter has filled the Canvas with Indian contemporary art.

“By the agreement signed between the Foreign Affairs Ministries of the two countries the cultural dialogue will not be limited by exhibitions of paintings, almost all the branches of art are involved in the programs,” the ambassador pointed out. These events are aimed at introducing the Armenians and the Indians the rich heritage of both countries,” A.K. Malhotra noticed.

‘If you watch the paintings attentively you will understand that they depict the outlook of the Indian people about the world, love and friendship,” the Indian painter said.

Mrs Biswas specializes in Warli style painting, depicting famous image of the Indian mythology – Krishna. Warlis or Varlis are Indian indigenous people, who live mostly in Dahanu and Talasari talukas of the northern Thane district, parts of Nashik and Dhule districts of Maharashtra, Valsad District of Gujarat, and the union territories of Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu. The ritual paintings of the Warli are usually done inside the huts. The walls are made of a mixture of branches, earth and cow dung, making a red ocher background for the wall paintings.

The Warli use only white for their paintings. Their white color is a mixture of rice paste and water with gum as a adhesive. They use a bamboo stick chewed at the end to make it as simple as a paintbrush. The wall paintings are done only for special occasions such as weddings or harvests. The lack of regular artistic activity explains the very crude style of their paintings, which were the preserve of the womenfolk until the late 1970s. But in the 1970s this ritual art took a radical turn, when Jivya Soma Mashe started to paint, not for any special ritual, but because of his artistic pursuits.

        Well, all these news you could read in almost all the news portals in Armenian network. Now I would like to write about a special day. The day when IAF members visited the exhibition and had the pleasure not only to enjoy the Indian exhibition but also to meet Mrs Biswas and watch the paintings along with her descriptions. A cheerful and lovely lady who was always ready to answer every question of the impressed audience. This exhibition is unique both for being the first ever to be opened in Armenia  representing Indian art and also the first one organized abroad for the artist.

As Mrs Biswas introduced the exhibition called "A Saga of Immortal Love", includes 22 paintings of Warli art. Most of them are  picturing love and life of the two gods of Hinduism: Krishna and Radha. Starting with his childhood Krishna is painted with his flute. When he plays his mesmerizing flute, the whole world is filled with love and compassion. Some paintings are of Buddha. Here you can see a painting with Krshna symbolizing love and Buddha  symbolizing peace. 
Peace and Love

Unlike the traditional way of Warli art Mrs Biswas's paintings are full of colors. "In that stage of my life I desperately was eager for light and purity, and I found it in Warli. The white was calling me, attracting me, an I felt it needed me as I needed it- purity and truthfulness. But I wanted to enrich it with lots of colors. And I started studying their culture from a folk artist". Since then she had several solo and group shows and was appreciated for her art with several awards.
Radha resembles to Krishna's shadow

The Rasa-Lila of Krishna (Love game)

  While discussing Warli and Indian culture with Mrs Biswas IAF members also had the opportunity to see who is the artist  Babita Biswas as a woman and mother.  Mrs Biswas has inherited her artist skills from her Grandparents. "My Grandfather was ա sculptօr and my Grandmother was painting too", she said. As a talented artist she is good at dancing and singing as well. She has got 2 children: a daughter and a son and  grows up her children in mixed Indian and western atmosphere.  She doesn't like getting presents but likes making surprises for her dear ones. She cooks very well, especially steamed fish and likes having evening gatherings for her friends in her house.

Lusine: I can hear melody in this painting: very gentle and live.
And I feel great love & tranquility in this blue atmosphere

Mrs Biswas also told us about her future planning. Back home she will prepare for another exhibition at The Nehru Center in London in June 2011.

Mrs Biswas shared her impressions about Armenia too. "Frankly said I had never heard about Armenia before I was told I would have an exhibition of my paintings here. I started surfing the net in search of the mysterious country called Armenia. Then only I fell in love with it. And now when I am here I think I should have planned my trip to be longer". Mrs Biswas ensured us that she will come back with her children to travel all over Armenia.

Next day 3 of IAF members spent the whole day with Mrs Biswas showing her Yerevan....

Thursday, February 3, 2011

We are more closer...

Dear IAF Members,

On behalf of IAF members, it is our immense pleasure in informing you all that, finally the government of Armenia has removed India from the list of countries which are granted visas in a strict regime /18 countries/. China is the other country with same news. This is released in the Press Release of  the press service of the government of Armenia.

Finally our struggle and solidarity paid off and we can now proudly embrace the great accessibility for each other in order to create a great People-2-People connection.


It would not have been possible without our ambassador to Armenia, H.E. Mr. Achal Kumar Malhotra's great effort. He led from the front along with Armenia's Abassador to India, H.E. Mr. Ara Hakobyan, who also became the pillar of strong relationship between these two countries.

Our heartiest thanks to both of them for bringing the much required things in order.

Congratulations to people of both of these countries for their love and support. India-Armenia Friendship will be much anticipating to bring in the utmost level of friendship & relationship between common people and respective governments.

Let's celebrate and cherish our togetherness

God bless you all

Best regards
Rananjay Anand & Ruzanna Ashughyan

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

In search of Armenians in India

While searching famous people all over the world I was trying to find Armenian celebrities in India. In this list only one name was there: Tulip Joshi . Her mother is diaspora Armenian who moved from Lebanon to India and got married to a Gujarati Indian.

Tulip Joshi
Although Tulip is not so famous in India as other Bollywood movie stars and has quite a short filmography but it helped me find another Indian. Joshi plays a suicide bomber in the 2007 film “Dhokha,” directed by Pooja Bhutt, who also shares Joshi’s Armenian lineage on her mother’s side.

Pooja Bhutt
It is quite difficult to find any information on this. Only thanks to the unique cooperation of these two beautiful ladies spread light on this fact. Tulip has promised to teach Pooja how to speak in Armenian and she is eager to learn.

Pooja Bhatt started her career as an Indian film actress, but currently devoting time to film production and direction. She is the daughter of Indian film director Mahesh Bhatt.

Apart from these charming celebrities no other information appears in the sources to witness the perfection of Indo-Armenian families.