I have been a professional artist for over 30 years. I am a figurative mixed media painter and printmaker but within this foundation is a quest for the psychodynamics of the work – the need to see beyond and yet, realize the moment and uncover the layers. My subject matter ranges from still life, landscape, theatre, and personalized interiors- I am deeply moved by color and light and form. You can visit my online portfolio and biography by clicking here. While my artistic adventures have taken me to so many exciting venues; backstage as the unofficial artist of Les Grands Ballets Canadiens, (2000 – 2010), a solo show in Florence, Italy (2010), as an artist in residence at the Banff Centre (Leighton Colony), (2011), to Vietnam and Cambodia, (2012) and recently to India (2013), my heart remains where I live, in Montreal, Quebec.
Touring the City Palace of Jaipur (Rajasthan) was to behold one beautiful thing after another. The ornate marble patterns, the carvings, inlays and even giant silver urns meant to carry water from the Ganges for the Maharaja’s travels, were all spectacular. One again, the colors shone for me.A memorable and suitable finish to our stay in Jaipur and our tour of India was the “Gaitore” Crematorium, a mausoleum for the Maharajas. It was quiet there. Peaceful. And for my daughter Tamara, who did not want to walk through yet another beautiful sight, there was a lady doing henna in a hut by the crematorium. So we were both quite satisfied.
Finally, the ladies of Jaipur chatting on our way home (why can’t I dress this way?) juxtaposed with a painting in the lobby of our hotel. Lastly, a Happy Hour good bye with my new favourite wine, Indian Fratelli Chardonay.
The Amber Fort was stocked with architectural and artistic wonders, like the mirrored rooms which glowed in the sunlight, the ceilings glistening silver and the inlayed semi precious stones radiating gem like colors.
Walking around Jaipur, founded in 1727 and called the Pink City, one might see shades of deep oranges and paler reds, and golds and diffused yellows, rather than pink. There are larger roads here, lined with bazar-like shops selling everything. All this was punctuated by amazing architecture like the “Howa Mahal” which was constructed for the Royal Harem to observe daily life, without being seen.
What I marvelled at was the architecture of this city, the woodwork almost looked lacy, delicate, ornate but not over powering, I love it. I love Jaipur.
The stops that nourished my artistic needs were as follows: First, a textile co-operative on Old Amer Road. I learnt how the textile industry came about and how fabric is printed upon today, in the old ways still. Harkening back to my beginnings as a print maker, I am always on the lookout for new ways of incorporating printing styles in my work…
Second, we went to a painting collective, The Khajana Art Gallery, specializing in miniature painting. I watched intensely as an artist painted an elephant with single hairs of his brush to represent the hairs of the elephants back, then wrote our names on a piece of rice. Talk about excellent eye sight!! I had to use my reading glasses to make out the perfectly written names. What dexterity! What skill!!Our first day in Jaipur was filled with the arts and color…
The five and half hour drive from Agra to Jaipur was delightful, like driving through a movie – brightly coloured saris on women laughing on the back of a truck… camels.. and best of all marble cutting and inlay places all along the road. Of course I had to get that hammer and chisel in my hand…As I knelt down to carve, all the memories of my workshop days with Stanley Lewis, lively stone sculpture teacher at the Saidye Bronfman Centre in Montreal, and advisor to Irving Stone’s “The Agony and the Ecstasy”.
It’s like walking into a post card. But even more grand. The marble is so white. The details overwhelm. Learning about the art of inlaying precious and semi precious stones, still done today but only by a handful of family descendants who know the secrets of the procedure and the guarded glue recipe. The Taj Mahal grounds are spotless. An oasis amidst the chaos.Agra has approx. 1.6 million people with a decaying third world infrastructure, but they are trying to rebuild. Driving mere miles is hazardous, horns blowing, cars, motorcycles, tuk tuks, bicycles, camels, cows, and people in a steady stream with no apparent order. But there is great beauty in the sheer exotic nature of it all.
Next up: Agra Fort. My reading for this trip is a series of historical fiction novels by Indu Sundaresan, so I felt like I was back in the 16th century of the Mughal empire, reliving what I had read about the Agra Fort. It’s spectacular.
Mark Twain said of Varanasi that the city is “older than history, older than even legend, and looks twice as old as all of them put together.” Varanasi, birth place of Ravi Shankar, famous for the sitar. His daughters, one of whom is Norah Jones (who I listen to in my studio) scattered his ashes in the Ganges last month. This was to be the spiritual centre of the trip, I knew this going in…
Every Hindu has the desire to come once in their life time to take a dip in the Ganges. If one died here, they would attain “Moksha” or salvation, and in turn be removed from the eternal cycle of reincarnation. Taking place 24 hours a day here, on two ghats or series of steps, are the cremations, the ashes of which are put in the Ganges. I asked the kind guide if it was so very sad here, with all this death. In response, he talked about the different Gods, like Shiva, destroyer of evil and Durga, Goddess of power and energy, and he seemed energized. He described the ritual evening prayer and how one can be cleansed of all sin if one is cremated here. And then, he quietly said: “Every one dies.” That was it for me. I cried.
The Ritual Evening Prayer is a sight to behold. Seven Brahmin priests are surrounding by crowds at the river’s edge and swing huge urns around and around weaving smoke into the air. My new camera, a Canon SX280 HS zoomed closer and closer despite being in a boat far from the action.
At night, within the corridors of the old city, my daughter feels on guard at all time, and I am guarding her. We are walking between hoards of humanity, people lacking limbs, peaceful sari clad women, men every where beckoning us to buy, children too. Cows every where even in the narrow ally ways. Competing scents of garbage and essential oils. A night never to forget.
How could one go to Paris for an overnight stay without going to a museum? Impossible, if it’s the Musee de l’Orangerie within the Jardin des Tuileries down the street. Monet’s Water Lilies lined the long walls of two oval rooms, still glorious, but darker than I remembered. So many Reniors that close up had a slight grotesque quality, I’d never noticed that before. Almost a hint of Picasso’s huge solid woman, also exhibited there. We had to ride the Ferris wheel of course. And now, my daughter Tamara and I are about to embark on our India adventure. I have no idea what we are in for…