shall we walk at snail’s pace


At a snail’s pace: pathways to the ‘other’ side

While dealing with children we have often observed how to make them do some thing, we have to ask them to do the opposite. The rebel in fact resides in all of us. Most of us tame it as we grow, some don’t.

I saw an exhibition yesterday of an artist who is a rebel at heart, and has reverence for the weak, forbidden, and the ability of the ‘other to touch our spirit. In contemporary times, as ever in history, probably artists alone can trigger  thousand mutinies in our head and heart about the injustice, inequity, and all the other social imbalances.

In his painting showing a dragon fly resting on two barbed wires, pravin misra has achieved like a dragon fly almost an impossible task. Not many may know of the work by  prof  Z. Jane Wang, a professor at Cornell University. She found some thing very counter intuitive. She observes,  “an airfoil uses aerodynamic lift to carry its weight. But the dragonfly uses a lot of aerodynamic drag to carry its weight. That is weird, because with airplanes you always think about minimizing drag. You never think about using drag.” Can a dragon fly use barbed wires as pathway to reach the unreached. It is difficult for me to explain the beautiful colours and composition of this painting. But the thought, which made me feel, a bit liberated was, why do we always consider barbed wire as an obstruction. Is it inherent in the nature of barbed wires that they obstruct. These are normally expected to keep unauthorised people out of the boundary. But this dragonfly is using the same wires to reach out. In another painting the artist has demonstrated  an on going tug of war among unequals. The phirkis are often made by muslims and used by them as well as Hindus at the time of Uttrayans for flying the kites, It is rather is well known. Why is then the thread of bondage, love and understanding not visible in his painting of phirkis. Is it because the power of aesthetics is never at play in an obvious way. How many know that Hitler was a lover of art and culture at heart. But what kind of art, what kind of culture?. He wanted to purify the German art of the modernist influences of those times.  The pursuit of the moon by a threadless phirki as a ladder, as shown by the artist  is perhaps a pursuit of love, peace and amity.

When pravin was a child, he had a maverick sense of humour. His father was in fire brigade department. Often if there was a fire incident, he would go and come back late at night. By that  time every body at home would have slept. He didn’t. One day when his father came late, on seeing him awake, he asked,” why have you not slept till now?”, pravin, a little child said, : kyun, sab karey karayey par paani pher kar aa gayey? Now, what does one say about this.  This exhibition is an amazing assortment of visuals, messages, boats coming back, birds uncertain about whether to fly or not. And snails traversing at their own pace. Today when life has become so fast, why will we walk at snail’s pace. But tell me, can you really observe life, nuanced manifestation of its texture, colours and vibes, if one does not walk slowly. Pl visit this exhibition at Hutheesing visual art centre and absorb all the serenity of aesthetics, its power, its subtleties and its painful reminder that we are not after all helpless.

Next week, I will share with you some memorable moments at fifth biennial award grassroots innovation award function held at Delhi recently. What did President Patil say about beauty of mughal garden and the creativity at grassroots, wait till next week.

Anil K Gupta