...these silver lines, travel from my thoughts to yours, wavering, floating like spirits dancing...

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Small cities

Small cities
with your big people
and big hearts
how generous and quaint are your ways

I smile as I recall
those bygone days
in those chilly cities
where pine trees soar
in cloudy skies
giving off their sticky sweet scent
the fragrance I love so much

and that wonderful birdsong
that accompanies you wherever you go
in small cities
with big people
and big hearts

how delightful that waft of smoke
that rises from your houses
as meals are prepared over fires
after a long day's work
I catch a whiff and smile
in small cities
with big people
and big hearts

and how cheerful those early morning monkeys
that climb onto the aluminum roofs
hungry for a bite of fruit
from my hand
I shall miss and savour each memory
of those small cities
with big people
and big hearts

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Two poems

Run away home, little bird, run away home
with a tuft of grass tucked between your beak
run away home.

Fly away home, little bird, fly away home
I watched you as you sat perched on the railing
from the kitchen window
the sun blazing through the afternoon sky
fly away home, little one, fly away home

The clouds were aflame with the sun's fiery glow
as you hopped away with your treasure in your beak
no doubt in a hurry to fix your little nest before the air chills
so run away home, little bird, fly away home
ere the hour grows longer and the shadows disappear


Things fall apart and fall together again
like little pieces of blocks they fall away again
I watch as they float around me
little pieces of a puzzle that is my life
I sit and question the stars when all is quiet
and watch as the moon moves silently, darkly on its orbit

An unknown feeling, silently, so silently
it creeps up my whole being until I am bereft
of everything that I call mine
taking over the tiniest moment in the present
and stretching it on till forever

The darkest shadows call out from the silent night
deafening in their beauty and relentless in their power
They seem to know me, and I know them
their secret is hidden in the curve of the moon
and the light that shines darkly from it's pale face.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Worlds within a room

Every room has a story. Sights and sounds. Feel and taste. Colours and shapes. Smells and mysteries. Every room is a wonder in itself. Just waiting for you to explore it. The moment you hold the doorknob and turn it, you are preparing yourself to enter a new world. And the moment you push the open the door with your other hand, you are instantly transported into an adventure. From that moment to this moment. From there to  here. From then to now. From the past to the future. And that room becomes your world then. It is as if, every room before it never existed in the eye of your mind. You only see what you see, you only breathe what you breathe, and you only taste what you taste.

Perhaps there are windows in this room, or perhaps there are none. Perhaps there are books in bookshelves, or perhaps there are pictures and paintings. Perhaps you have been in this room before, or perhaps it is your first time. But whatever may be the case, you want to store this memory of this particular room in your mind, exactly as it is, so that you may be able to recall it later. You want to remember it the way you are experiencing it in this moment.

And in this moment anything can happen. You can ride the carpet in the room and imagine it is flying far, far above land and sea to a place where there is only music and love and peace. You can take on enchanted journeys with fairies and kings, dragons and beasts, to dark forests and grand castles, deserts that stretch on forever and seas that never end. You can be a pirate or a sailor, a warrior or a king, a magician or a peasant, a beggar or a dancer. You can dine on lavish, luxurious feasts in gold trays, or nibble at some bread from an earthen bowl. You can be young and lean and strong or you could be old and charming and wise. There is a world of possibility just waiting for you to grab at it and love life with the full force of your entire being, as everything in this world that ever existed deserves to be loved. Or you could just sit quietly, on the floor, with your legs folded, calm and peaceful and still as a mouse. You could close your eyes and dream away.

Years may pass. Seasons may come ago. The trees outside may grow taller. The paint may peel and fall off, the metal may rust, the wood may lose it's shine and lustre. And you could plan your whole life in this room. You can fall in love, go the moon and back, see the autumn leaves fall and watch as the flowers bloom to take their place in spring and look outside the window to see the sun shining eternally with it's golden glow. And at night when you brush your hair and stare at your reflection in the mirror in the dark, do not be surprised to find a stranger lurking in the depths of the shadows. They are your own. And you have been prepared for another day beginning tomorrow, where your only strength and comfort will be this room. 

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Impressionism - a movement as a result of different scientific discoveries

An essay by Bushra Azeem

Impressionism was a 19th century art movement that originated with a group of Paris-based artists whose independent exhibitions brought them to prominence during the 1870s and 1880s in spite of harsh opposition from the art community in France.  Characteristics of Impressionist paintings include relatively small, thin, yet visible brush strokes; open composition; emphasis on accurate depiction of light in its changing qualities; common, ordinary subject matter; the inclusion of movement as a crucial element of human perception and experience; and unusual visual angles. Impressionism also describes art created in this style, but outside of the late 19th century.

There is no doubt that the Impressionism movement grew and rose as a result of different scientific discoveries. It was a time when lots of discoveries and inventions were being made, while a lot had been already discovered.

In particular, the invention of the light and the camera gave rise to new and different techniques in art. Among the preceding art movements, Baroque art in particular, saw artists like Sir Peter Paul Reubens of Belgium and Rembrandt of Holland making use of both light and the camera-like compositions. Both artists were greatly impressed with these two discoveries and it helped to shape the art and paintings they created.
The discovery of the camera and light – being made of 7 different colours when passed through a prism was revolutionary for both science and art. The artists in the Impressionism movement formed the basis of the 20th century art and related movements – these movements in turn gave way to later movie making ad animation, caricatures and cartoons.

Naturally, an artist is influenced by the discoveries made in his/her time and it is reflective in their art. The major artists in the Impressionist movement were certainly no exception and in fact, gave rise to further scientific discoveries. These artists, namely Edouard Manet, Edgar Degas, Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Gustave Caillebotte and George Seurat (Pointillism) paved the way for modern art by combining the influence of the modern scientific discoveries at that time, with their artistic expressions.

It is important to note that the Impressionist art was moving and was largely focused on the artist’s impressions, quick glances, where details of the paintings were gradually withering away and strokes by the brush were becoming more popular, i.e. the dots, dabs and dashes.

George Seurat’s ‘A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte’ was a masterwork which gave rise to Pointillism. In it, Seurat used a mixture of blue and yellow dots to give the impression of greens, instead of using solid colours. This entire painting was made by the application of dots whose colour combined in this way to make the eye perceive it as a mixture of the different colours. In replacement of solid colours, now a combination of different colours were used to make shades and hues.

This painting in particular gave rise to the modern colour theory and colour photography. Another noteworthy fact about the Impressionism movement is that it helped to formulate much of modern art, and video and animation as we know them today.

The Impressionism movement wasn’t entirely about the application of colour under the influence of scientific discoveries, as quite a lot of work was done for the artist’s own pleasure along with the commissioned work.
The term ‘Impressionism’ was coined during the movement’s tenure, unlike the other art movements. It was first used by a critic, Louis Leroy, who coined the term in a satiric review about Claude Monet’s work,’ Impression, Sunrise’. This review was published in the Parisian newspaper ‘Le Charivari’, in which Leroy stated: ‘this is not a painting, this is an impression’. And it was true in a way. It was Monet’s own personal impression of the rising sun. And the term, therefore, stuck and gave way to the movement. The artists exclaimed that yes, they were impressions, very personal expressions.

Claude Monet was an artist who closely observed the light and used to sit and watch as the shadows changed and the sun threw different shades on everything around him. Often, he used to change his canvas after every 20 to 3 minutes to observe and capture how the light changed and the shadows lengthened.

Of particular importance, are his:
  1. Haystack series
  2.  The Roven Cathedral series
  3.   Water lily  series

...as he painted all three series during different times of day and studied them closely. He was in a way, photographing these, although he was not imitating photography.
The water lily series, of the garden in which he often painted, made a lot of use of dabs and dashes. This was a period in Monet’s life, when he had retired to this house near the garden, spent a lot of time there and grew his favourite plants.

Edgar Degas, on the other hand is famous for his:
1.       Ballet series
2.       Keyhole series

Degas was an artist who was very inspired by the camera and he painted a lot of ballet scenes in his paintings. This new form of art, however, did not enjoy any patronage from the traditional ‘Royal Society of Arts’ – people were not ready to accept this new style and technique. However, Degas, had unknowingly, set the groundwork for modern camera composition and dramatic compositions in unlikely and unusual angles and scenes – such as the backstage of a ballet room, showing young dancers in preparation for the performance – not the performance itself. These dramatic composition, making use of the subjects seen in a new pose and angles, seen in a visual movement, and captured in a dramatic light, are arguable, just like modern film compositions or photography. His paintings seemed a lot like camera compositions – moments captured in a split second – as if the fleeting glance was all it took for him to capture the image in his brain and then paint it.

Moreover, the paintings in this series show a spontaneous movement in action, by ordinary subjects –such as the ballet dancers. This is important to note, because ballet paintings, before, were painted with a lot of grandeur and were shown in a glamorous light. But Degas, introduced the element of everyday reality, by showing ordinary scenes related to the ballet – the backstage etc. They had no approval from the Royal Society of Arts – unlike the other commissioned artists.

Degas combined two mediums together – pastels and paints to give the illusion of fabric. Since he was not committed to one technique only, he was open to experimenting with a mixture and combination of different mediums to get the desired results.

His painting ‘Jockeys before the start, with flag-pole’ in particular, has an asymmetrical composition and looks just like a photograph would if captured at that moment. The flag pole in the painting is towards the right side of the painting and so is the subject. It is important to note that Degas was not trying to imitate photography.

Pierre-Auguste Renoir was an artist who believed in traditionalist art but had a natural inclination towards impressionist art; therefore he combined both beautifully. He often used subtraction in his paintings. In his painting ‘Le Moulin de la Gelette’ , Renoir combined the use of light and composition both. Lights and shadows can both be seen and the subjects are painted as if caught in a split second of action. He was also very fond of stripes and contemporary fashion for both women and men can be seen in his painting ‘La Roge’, which is a scene from the opera house.

The Impressionist artists formed the basis of the 20th century art and related movements – these movements in turn gave way to later movie making and animation, caricatures and cartoons. No other art movement, in my opinion, gave so much to the modern art or inspired in us to create more and expand and explore our human capabilities in expression and technique as the Impressionism movement.

The Impressionism movement both grew out of and rose as result of different scientific discoveries, such as light and camera, but also gave birth and set the groundwork for future scientific discoveries, such as colour printing, colour theory, camera and photography composition and the study of light. It was a symbiotic relationship; both needed the other in order to survive and could not exist without the other. Needless, to say, the Impressionism movement was a highly important movement that paved the way for modern art and helped to shape it into what it is today and how it is viewed and critiqued today.

The Impressionists ignited a revolution with an explosion of colour and movement. Their vibrant canvases confounded critics, defied conventions and sparked scandal. A century and a half later, they are among the most revered and influentional artists of all time.

Friday, August 3, 2012

''Recall those days
Look back on all those times
Think of the things we'll never do
There will never be a day when I won't think of you...

Flowers fade
The fruits of summer fade
They have their seasons, so do we
But please, promise me, that sometimes
you will think of me..''

- Think of Me, Phantom of the Opera