Tuesday, April 20, 2010

A Fools Journey/Salvador Dali' Inspired - Exhibition of Surreal Tarot Cards by Baba Anand

Revisiting Salvador Dali

An East Indian painter, who draws inspiration from Dali & MAE WEST.

He's been called a surreal egoist, as eccentric in his art as in his behaviour, but Salvador Dali has never failed to move Indian artists to high emotion. Delhi-based Baba Anand is a die-hard fan, and his exhibition is a tribute to the late Spanish Artist.

Major Arcana
- A Fools' Journey' literally means "trumps" and it is a suite of 22 cards in tarot, which have occult or divinatory symbolism. Anand's work (22 Tarot card paintings, each 6 feet tall) draws references from some of Dali's most important pieces like the Three Graces, the Mae West Couch & Adonis .

Artist Baba Anand, now 48, has been fascinated by the works of Salvador Dali form the age of 13 & has been into tarot card reading for 10 years. Based out of New York and Paris until recently, shifted base to Delhi. Appeared on the Indian Art Scene in 2002, with a solo show including Bollywood posters with sequins & spangles.

Coming back to public arena after a long gap in which he travelled and exhibited in New York &Paris, Anand says his move back to Delhi was aimed at placing himself in the emerging art space in India.

Working with embroiderers & sequin craftsmen to cover the oil paintings with glitter & 24-carat gold leafing.

Not taking all of the 78 cards that are usually in a tarot deck, Anand balked at the idea of making that many crafted works. Instead, he chose the Major Arcana cards, which show symbolic figures like the High Priestess, Justice and the Hermit. Exhibit's depictions of the Sun, the World, the Old man with the Lantern, the Lovers and Death. "Everyone assumes that Death is a negative card but it actually symbolises a big change. Rendering a beautiful rose & skull in the middle of the tree. The skull has echoes of Damien Hirst.

Each card is priced at Rs 15 lakh & available individually.

Also seen are 12 installations, inspired by works of Dali. Sculptural references to Dali's Bleeding Roses, his Burning Giraffe & two heavily embellished chairs with tarot images.

The exhibition bears the opulence & love for the oriental that was Dali's signature.

As part of our commitment to showcasing new and contemporary art, we at Religare Arts Initiative are excited to revisit the magical and mystical world of Baba Anand through this seminal body of 22 paintings and many curious and captivating installations, inspired by Salvador Dali’s World Tarot deck.” - Mukesh Panika, Director, Religare Arts Initiative

Exhibition - 17 April- May 17. 2010 at Religare Arts. CP

Check all 22 tarot Crad Paintings at


Baba Anand say's
Knowing my fascination for all things Dali and my love for Tarot, my friend, who is a Tarot card reader presented me with the perfect gift ten years ago. I dove right in, spent hours looking at each card, and finally pronounced it my Blood and Butterflies deck. Perhaps it was the fever that turned into a flu within 24 hours which made me see so much of the color red in the cards. I loved the deck, but felt that it was more of a collectable deck than anything that I would ever use in an actual reading.I also was starting to learn the Tarot. Little did I know I would end up using them in a most unexpected manner.

Last year I unshelved the Tarot Universal Dali, to share with a friend, and found myself taking a second and much deeper look. The deck is packaged in a box within a box. The outer box is covered in burgundy-red velvet with gold lettering, and the inner case containing the cards is a sturdy, dark brown, cardboard affair, also with gold lettering. Dali as The Magician (El Mago) graces the cover of the inner box, and he immediately confronts the Reader with his amazed countenance over a work table that holds a broken loaf of bread, a glass of half-consumed wine, a roll of parchment, and a clock face melting off the table away from the artist.

And so, I searched the deck for ants, grasshoppers, female genitalia, and more fabulously melting clocks. I did not find many more trademarks of Salvador Dalis early surrealist years. Instead, I stepped into a collaged world of clipped, classical Western art and Dali doodles which mimic and mock the very art upon which they are superimposed. I realize that is a lot of alliteration for one sentence, but after looking at this deck more closely, I have added brooding and bruised to Blood and Butterflies.I was fascinated.

The edges are gilt and the borders are gold and narrow. The cards are larger than standard at about 3 by 6 inches, and the deck feels and looks rich. The card stock is not heavy, but sturdy.

The book that comes with the deck was written in Spanish, with English, French and German translations, and provides brief descriptions of the Major Arcana, hinting at alchemical symbolism. It also contains diagrams for three layouts, but fails to describe any method for interpreting the cards within any of the spreads shown. There are a total of 78 cards, 56 being the Minor Arcana.

The Major Arcana or the 22 major cards bear English titles on top and French titles below, each upon a broad, gold band, and are numbered I through XXI from the Magician to the World. Justice is numbered VIII and Strength is XI. Hebrew letters are assigned to the cards starting with Aleph at the Magician through Resh at Judgment, and Tau is assigned to The World. The Fool is unnumbered and the Hebrew letter Shin graces the top band. Planetary and Zodiacal associations are somewhat different from those found on many modern decks. For instance, The Empress is Earth, Temperance is Aquarius, and The World is Taurus.

With few exceptions, the Majors are active, masculine and forceful. Even cards that traditionally feel contemplative, are interpreted with a sense of urgency in Dalis world. The High Priestess is almost standing, her eyes are open, and she leans forward toward the Reader as if SHE is asking the question! The Lovers, classically nude or would be if the artist had not placed that great, blue butterfly over the male lovers mid-section, while leaving the female lover quite unclothed watch a bright red, doodled snake drip down between them from the red, doodled tree above. And all the imagery of The Lovers is placed upon a red background that simply screams, Do something even if its wrong!

As the cards come packaged, Dalis is the first face you see on the brown box in the image of The Magician.

Dali turned 80 in 1984, the year this deck was first published in Spain. Rumor has it that he created this deck at the behest of his wife, Gala, who was fascinated with the Tarot. More plausible an explanation is that the artist accepted a commission to create a Tarot deck at the behest of his wife who handled their financial affairs to make money to support the couples extravagant lifestyle in their waning years.

If it isnt enough that Dali signed every single card in the deck with a flourish, the card backs are a symmetrical design of Dalis famous signature.

Do I love these cards? I have peeked into the mind of the aging Dali skewed, human, and found blood and butterflies, brooding and bruises and I do love this deck. Yes, its a collectible, and one that I will share often. And perhaps, one day, when I'm brooding, I'll even read with it and....

Loving these cards, I decided to paint, collage using my various techniques of using glitter, sequins, embroidery and 24 karat gold leafing to produce a series of 22 paintings of the Major Arcana as a homage to Dali and his Tarot. I omitted the Minor Arcana as it has 54 cards and is not as significant as the Major Arcana.

TAROT for me
Since the Tarot has become an integral part of my spiritual journey,my views about religion and spirituality have changed drastically. I have become like a modern gnostic, believing that all people through their Selves take part in divinity through a divine spark, and this divinity has something to do with knowledge and knowing.

The Tarot for me, is a tool to access this knowledge. It is of great help in exploring my inner self and that of others; and the interaction between us. The deck is my best friend for creating my future, to remove confusion, and smooth over the ripples of pain and unrest.

The cards are always there when I need them, they are my greatest coping companions and take care of me every single day of the year.

The Tarot is like a living picture book that changes every time we read it. Hence I use it as a way of getting a different perspective of things and situations in my life, sometimes something as simple as the color of my shirt to something on a spiritual level. It is something that allows my conversations with the Source to be more of a two way street.

As I am greatly drawn to the insight to human nature, astounding artwork and human psychology, the Tarot is useful in discovering both, the human experience and universal truths.
Words have their limitations and language barriers but the pictures and imagery of the Tarot convey meaning across time and culture.

The function of the Tarot is helping us tap into our own inner wisdom. It is a teacher and a friend. It helps us build and fix our lives, gives advice and encouragement and can even warn us of impending dangers. It is a connection to mystical dimensions and planes like spirits and the like. Some hear the voice of the Divine through Tarot, for without Tarot there would be no other way.

This is the true beauty of the Tarot. The richly woven symbols are like beautiful multi faceted gems which allow you to express your fascinations, your fantasies, your deepest, darkest desires and the stirrings of your soul. It encourages the psyche and your imagination to explore your fanaticism, removes dogma and reveals your beliefs, hopes and dreams.

It has a divine intelligence and is the greatest form of divination, helping one to be one with the Divine.


Salvador Domingo Felipe Jacinto Dalí i Domènech, 1st Marquis of Púbol (May 11, 1904 – January 23, 1989) was a Spanish Catalan surrealist painter born in Figueres.

Dalí was a skilled draftsman, best known for the striking and bizarre images in his surrealist work. His painterly skills are often attributed to the influence of Renaissance masters. His best-known work, The Persistence of Memory, was completed in 1931. Dalí’s expansive artistic repertoire includes film, sculpture, and photography, in collaboration with a range of artists in a variety of media.

Dalí attributed his “love of everything that is gilded and excessive, my passion for luxury and my love of oriental clothes” to a self-styled “Arab lineage,” claiming that his ancestors were descended from the Moors.

Dalí was highly imaginative, and also had an affinity for partaking in unusual and grandiose behavior, in order to draw attention to himself. This sometimes irked those who loved his art as much as it annoyed his critics, since his eccentric manner sometimes drew more public attention than his artwork.

Gaurav Kapoor; Artist/Curator/Publicist

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Matali Crasset - Milano 2010

Milano 2010 : matali crasset for Pallucco : Foglie
Milan International Furniture Fair 2010 preview

Pallucco will launch at the Salone del Mobile a new lamp collection “Foglie” designed by matali crasset.

The natural elegance of the branches of a tree provides the inspiration for the new family of lights called Foglie (“leaves” in English).

Available into three different versions: in the floor version, the stem of the light becomes the tree trunk and the branches are transformed into unusual minimal leaf-like appendages. In the wall light the branches are grafted onto the walls while the ceiling light has leaves hanging down, creating light and shade effects on the walls and surfaces below.

The inspiration for the Foglie design is a fractal: a geometrical shape which is repeated throughout its structure in different sizes. It reflects the principle of nature which determines growth: from simplicity to complexity


Milano 2010 : Matali Crasset for Moustache
14-19 April 2010, 10 am – 9 pm
Press preview : tuesday April, 13, 3 pm – 8 pm

For the second collection of Moustache I strived to consider objects matching and protracting the instant chair and table. I’m set on developing with Moustache a series of objects both ingenious and complementary. They contradict existing codes offering free choices to accessorize, conserving an assertive personality, but nevertheless creating a family.

The “Instant” family range is developing with an integrated right or left-sided elbow-rest creating a small bench with two, three … parts.

The elbow-rest is perfectly shaped for placing a glass or a book.
This version is available in wood or covered with natural Pyrenees sheep skin.
Once upon a time ….
there was a coffee table which aspired to being alive:

It’s a 3-legged round table, composed of a central chest cleverly hidden by a removable tray. Each of the 3 legs is topped with a tray of varied size and height.

The trays revolving around the center unfurl in space, outfitting this small console with amazing flaccidity and resembling extended hands inviting you to gather around.

The trays can be folded away to save space.

…an interactive and natural coffee table completely opposed to the typically canonical appearance of living-rooms … it offers bygone times a durable forward-looking presentation.

… a table used for modern needs, becoming a plastron for all electronic devices requiring plugs. Adopting an electrical connector role, a power-strip is concealed for charging all sorts of different apparatus – family computers, games, cellular phones … – any items which could momentarily be placed on the various trays.

An entire birch plywood plastron for storing technology of new household rituals.

The table’s compactness gives numerous possibilities for placing it in the home – as a coffee table in the living-room for placing a newspaper or a drink, in the bed-room as a night table … in a hallway to recharge cell phones or a perfect place to empty your pockets.

The table exists in 2 versions: in silver birch and natural whitened birch.

The trays boast leather or metal tinted patches.


Milano 2010 : matali crasset for galleria Luisa delle Piane : Volte-face

14 – 19 April 2010
Vernissage Thursday 15 April 2010 : 6:00pm – 10:30pm

Concurrently with the Milan Furniture Show (Salone Internazionale del Mobile 2010) the Luisa delle Piane galleria presents a project by matali crasset entitled Vole-face (French for “About-face”).

This project is part of matali’s research on functionality. Faithful to a strict style, matali shows figuratively and literally that when “you drop the mask”, true purpose finally appears. Volte-face thus presents the coexistence of two identities for the same object; by turning it around (in French, faire volte face), you switch from one state to the other, from one function to another.

This duality represents two central and complementary aspects of design objects:

- symbolic: the convex shape, like a mask hung on a kitchen wall, is turned to the outside and represents an invitation to the supernatural. It reveals what may be hidden.

- domestic: turned to the concave side, the shape becomes suitable for everyday use. Physical rather than metaphysical, it is now a container that may hold anything. It may become an offerings cup or an object for “face to face” exchanges. The shape of the object is determined by the use given to it.

The Volte-face exhibit consists of four objects in duplicate: four masks/implements presented simultaneously on the walls and on a large kitchen table.

A series of photographs by Cécil Mathieu accompanies this project, depicting matali’s pieces in scenes inspired by Samurai armor.

Galleria Luisa Delle Piane Via Giuseppe Giusti, 24 20154 Milano – Italy


Thursday, April 1, 2010

Play 'Sara' - Sara Shagufta by Mahesh Dattani.

Sara is a dramatic enactment of the life and times of Sara Shagufta, one of Pakistan's most controversial poets whose life was troubled with personal conflict, which found expression through her creative outpourings. Largely based on her letters to Amrita Pritam, this dramatization takes us through her struggles and victories as it does try to fathom her innermost yearnings.

A world renowned English Playwright, Mahesh has directed various plays in English but 'Sara' is his first attempt with the Hindustani Language.

Sara Shagufta’s is an important voice because it came from a deeply conservative society of the seventies and early eighties. She flouted the rules laid down by her society and yet deep in her heart she yearned for the very things that a civilized society offers an individual. Love, family and life lived with dignity. Did she acquire these in her short time on earth? Yes and no.

Her poetry is searing and deeply personal. It dazzles with metaphor and compels the reader/listener to try and understand her life better through her words.

The play has been written by Delhi based journalist Shahid Anwar and Seema Azmi (NSD) will portray the role of Sara Shagufta.

Directed by Mahesh Dattani, SARA is an attempt to recognize the contributions of Sara Shagufta and for what she stood. The play, a one-person show by Seema Azmi will be staged at various centres in India, especially in the non metros. Part of the proceeds from the play will be donated in support of Dr. Kiran Bedi?s NGO, Navjyoti India Foundation that campaigns for women empowerment.

Invited audience comprising of the various celebrities such as Javed Akhtar, Gulzar, Farooque Sheikh, Waheeda Rehman, Manu Rishi, Suchitra Krishnamurti, Suchitra Pillai, Mohan Kapur, Achint Kaur, Sandip Sickand, Divya Dutta, Sanjana Kapoor, Piyush Mishra, Perizaad Zorabian Irani, and many others.

Poet as a Rebel
by Mahesh Dattani
Source Credit;THE WEEK, March 20th 2010

When playwright Shahid Anwar read out the script of Sara to me, I felt compelled to direct it. I must confess my Urdu is not that hot so it took me a while to understand and appreciate the late Sara Shagufta’s poetry. What first struck me was the remarkable life that she led and the challenges she faced as a woman and a poet in a stiflingly male-dominated society of Pakistan in the 1970s. To quote a male poet of her time and place: “A woman with a pen is a nuisance to society.”

Lest we think we are better off in India or in the 21st century, a friend of mine recalls with some amusement that whenever she travels by taxi and instructs the driver to take her on a particular route, he invariably tells her it’s not a good idea and suggests an alternative route. Once when I took a taxi with her, she asked me to give directions. Not a word out of the driver. She paid the fare, but the change was handed over to me.

Why do we think that women do not have a right to use their brains or to express themselves freely?
Sara, the play, is a dramatic enactment of the life and times of one of Pakistan’s most controversial poets whose life was troubled with personal conflict. Largely based on her letters to Amrita Pritam, this dramatisation takes us through her struggles and victories as it does try to fathom her innermost yearnings. Her poetry is searing and deeply personal. It dazzles with metaphor and compels the reader to try and understand her life better through her words. One gem in translation—Does a woman have any territory beyond her body?

Sara Shagufta’s is an important voice because it came from a deeply conservative society. She flouted the rules laid down by society and yet deep in her heart she yearned for the very things that a civilised society offers an individual. Love, family and life lived with dignity. Did she acquire these in her short time on earth? She did have her moments of victory like when she walks out of a marriage riddled with oppression and humiliation. She fought bitterly for the custody of her children. In court, her ex-husband decided to put a slur on her character to win the case and questioned her fidelity. Sara responded to this by telling the judge that he was absolutely right. She was immoral and unfaithful. That the children were not her husband’s and so he had no right over them. She implored the court to hand over possession of her children, as the man had no right over children that were not his. The court ruled in her favour!

Yet, she failed to gain the acceptance and validation as a poet she longed for in spite of becoming a famous “shayara”. Critics and society continued to pull her down, and she was branded as an indiscriminately sexual woman. Finally, she committed suicide unable to bear the guilt of bringing ruin to her family as a result of her poetry and public appearances in “mushairaas”, the bastion of male privilege.

In my production, I am fortunate to have an actor like Seema Azmi essay the role of Sara. The play deals with the suffocation Sara experienced in the hands of her many husbands and in-laws.

Sara was not a feminist writer by any standards. She rarely questioned gender politics, but when she did, her words stung with their acrid tone. Once when she was divorced from a husband who wrongfully suspected her of infidelity, she wrote with sarcastic intent—“On the streets of fidelity, the dog is considered more faithful than the bitch.”

To me, the play speaks of a search for freedom. All of us, no matter how free we consider ourselves to be, are bound by custom, decorum or good grace to censor our true feelings from being expressed. Sometimes, we allow these constraints to kill our inner voice. Sara felt no such compulsion. She chose death over the indignity of submission.