The Game Changers.

I don’t remember exactly when and how I met them, but I do remember the time I first saw the stunning work and simultaneously met and realised how ‘real’ this duo was. The warmth and grounding, was perhaps the byproduct of a curious combustion of Jalandhar meets Delhi, or could well have been the resultant of discovering a creative soul-mate in each other …Whatever be the reason, Jiten Thukral & Sumir Tagra were a very welcome addition to the Art scene of India.

The reality aspect of course ends right there… for when it comes to their work (and their creativity in personal dressing), a pair of unconventional dreamers indulging in surreal expressions start to make their presence felt. T&T (as they are known) are like young scientists let loose in a laboratory, constantly experimenting and discovering newness. If not jet-setting across the planet, they will almost always be found in their studio spaces in Gurgaon. For artists who express in vibrant colours, the various shades of grey that surround them here are almost the perfect backdrop for their richly detailed canvasses.

They do work hard…very hard actually… and the effort in conceptualising and detailing is commendable. I also laud the fact that their works are so much more than just paintings or sculptures. In their own communique: Thukral & Tagra work on new formats of public engagement and attempt to expand the scope of what art can do. They break out of the mediated and disciplinary world and create multi-modal sensory and immersive environments. An unknown fact to most is that a fair amount of their work and creative expression revolves around games. They’ve taken some rather obvious everyday games (ping pong, snooker etc) and tweaked them into very original and meaningful activities… the resultant quirkiness and ingenuity, culminating in profound and important messages, reflect a unique creative prowess and a deeper thinking silently lurking somewhere beneath the art of the detailed brushstrokes.

Finally, and as always, I shall let the images say the rest.

PS* For those who may not know, the Indian art scene is a bit confused at present, having seen its glorious highs and its lamenting lows….the old masters still attract an impressive demand whilst the contemporary artist tries hard to make his presence felt. Barring the husband-wife team of Subodh Gupta & Bharti Kher, contemporary Indian art is slowly but surely finding its footing, both in India as well as Internationally. But as they say, the pleasure of life is in the journey and not in the destination; and it this very spirit that will continue to create great creativity and creators, and make the world a more beautiful place.

The masters too, after all, were newbies once…

Copyright: JJ Valaya/ All rights reserved. All images are the sole property of JJ Valaya. No part of this post/publication may be reproduced, stored in retrieval systems, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without prior permission of JJ Valaya. This applies to all acts of use, in particular such as the reproduction of pictures and text, their performance and demonstration, translation, filming, microfilming, broadcasting, storage and processing in electronic media

 

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Saffron Art.

 

 

That Saffron Art is one of India’s best known Art auction houses/ advisories is a commonly known fact… that its promoter, Dinesh Vazirani  clearly knows how the dice are rolled is also well known… that his company who’s roots run more than 17 years deep also dabbles in Antiquities, Jewellery and fine Properties may also be known….but what may be lesser known is the fact that they also possess the ability to create veritable Art oasis’ in the middle of bustling cities where ‘living in a shoebox’ is the general norm; it certainly did come as a surprise for me a few weeks back.

Quite frankly, I believe that Art spaces in India still don’t enjoy the sense of scale and drama that a lot of international spaces globally do. I’ve also believed that Art needs a degree of solitude along-with subtle loneliness on the wall it is displayed on to be able to be seen in the right perspective… to be able to speak to its viewer…to be able to be intimately interpreted.

Saffron Art in Mumbai has managed all of the above and more….it has silence, another mandatory element required to appreciate intense creativity and plenty of ambling space, which gives room for the viewer to see the works from multiple distances and angles. The core reality that it is indeed just a very large square multi-textured grey space with the freedom to pull up, shift, tilt, levitate or drop walls in order to appease the curious whims of artists or collectors makes it even more appetising.

There’s an interesting choice of works on display at present in Mumbai, and whilst I have not been to their Delhi and New York spaces (which I am sure would be more than inspiring), I am looking forward to attending their auction coming up on the 21st in Delhi, where, I have no doubt, that I will witness, first hand, the master auctioneer playing to the gallery (no pun intended)!

Kudos Mr. Vazirani… for believing in a dream and for creating the perfect space to incubate it.

Copyright: JJ Valaya/ All rights reserved. All images are the sole property of JJ Valaya. No part of this post/publication may be reproduced, stored in retrieval systems, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without prior permission of JJ Valaya. This applies to all acts of use, in particular such as the reproduction of pictures and text, their performance and demonstration, translation, filming, microfilming, broadcasting, storage and processing in electronic media

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Lalala…

Yes, I’m a late bloomer but so what… and whilst I have no desire to ‘moonlight’ as a film critic, this just had to be shared…

Lalaland is an intriguingly sensitive story about dreams, passion, love, defeat, heartbreak, fate and so many other yarns beautifully and indeed, masterfully woven together using the thread of music and more specifically, jazz. I’ve always believed that brilliant cinema, like Art, should never be actually be reviewed … because that would mean the passing (and also possible mass acceptance) of a judgement based on the opinion of a solitary individual, one that may or may not reflect the soul of the masterpiece as understood and embraced by another. Art demands individual interpretation by all, each taking away something special from it… each understanding its fabric through their own will… each reminiscing about its mysterious impact on their very spirit.

Damien Chazelle, the 32 year old genius director first gave us ‘Whiplash’ and now this! No prizes for guessing who’s going back in time to discover more of his work…

Emma Stone… her performance almost warrants the creation of a new word in the dictionary as a new descriptive … an ubiquitous ‘outstanding’ and other such obvious parlance would perhaps be grossly inadequate to describe her brilliance.

Lalaland is a modern day classic … I’m sure many would have watched it by now, but for those who still haven’t, do so now… The film (and specially these words from an audition scene) will make you rethink about your own life, and, if indeed, the morning after has not obstinately pushed you back into the rigorous imprisonment of your routine existence, you may just have found yourself (and your purpose of existence) all over again… Enjoy!

Here’s to the ones who dream

Foolish as they may seem

Here’s to the hearts that ache

Here’s to the mess we make…
She captured a feeling

Sky with no ceiling
The sunset inside a frame
She lived in her liquor

And died with a flicker

I’ll always remember the flame
Here’s to the ones who dream

Foolish as they may seem

Here’s to the hearts that ache

Here’s to the mess we make…
She told me:

“A bit of madness is key

To give us new colors to see

Who knows where it will lead us?

And that’s why they need us”
So bring on the rebels

The ripples from pebbles

The painters, and poets, and plays
And here’s to the fools who dream

Crazy as they may seem

Here’s to the hearts that break

Here’s to the mess we make…

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Vayu

 

 

A few days back, an over-estimation of my driving time for a meeting and the resultant spare time at hand, bestowed upon me a princely 30 minutes of bliss amidst a beautiful space called VAYU, albeit, housed within another exalted one: Bikaner House.

Post India’s independence and the subsequent disposal of the Indian royal era, Bikaner House lost its noble residents and instead was bequeathed with government offices and alas, even a bus depot. It suffered its unfortunate fate until Vasundhara Raje, the artistically inclined first woman chief minister of Rajasthan petitioned the courts to move such agencies elsewhere. Furthermore, my dear friend, Malvika ‘Mala’ Singh (publisher of the legendary Seminar magazine), decided to get involved in putting together the ‘ new’ Bikaner House, now considered Delhi’s ‘it’ place for interesting experiences… be it Art, Fashion, Cuisine or just about any discipline which exudes a degree of pedigree. Priya Pall, who is the curatorial Director there ensures that quality is maintained over quantity and I am confident that this incredible bunch of women will continue to positively redefine Delhi’s style quotient to its maximum.

Coming back to VAYU… there’s a fair amount of reading that you can do on it because its had its paeans sung quite impressively across print and pixels…. the coveted New York Times & edgy blogs such as the Brown paper Bag will tell you all and more, so what can I add to a space which has already been accepted and appreciated?

To me, what matters most is the energy of a space… and the love and detail that has been put in to ensure that the energy never stagnates. Between owners Vivek Sahni and Dave Chang, an inherent sense of style and evolved aesthetics is almost a given, yet what this quaint shop has working in its favour (besides the environs) is the fact that its not quite a shop at all. Instead, its a leisurely set of rooms, with a warm and chic ‘air’ about it (wish they’d popped in a cafe though; what I’d give for that perfect cup of latte!) where one can amble, relax, take in a beautifully curated India and never want to leave. You’ll rarely be jostling for space, or feeling cramped (the high ceilings…sigh…) because VAYU simply seems to understand the joy of experiential shopping. The attention to detail is admirable as is the team; the manager Jimmy Golmei is a sartorial delight and VAYU amicably, and sophisticatedly, drives home the point that for any space to be special, all things (animate and inanimate) need to come together holistically to define its ethos.

But then again, don’t take my word for it… As always, I’ll let the images speak and as always, I’ll insist that you visit it yourself for self interpretation and perhaps, for that overwhelming sense of gratitude that one often feels when surrounded by good taste.

Copyright: JJ Valaya/ All rights reserved. All images are the sole property of JJ Valaya. No part of this post/publication may be reproduced, stored in retrieval systems, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without prior permission of JJ Valaya. This applies to all acts of use, in particular such as the reproduction of pictures and text, their performance and demonstration, translation, filming, microfilming, broadcasting, storage and processing in electronic media

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The Guilded Memory.

This is a pre-photoshop era picture of my parents when they’d just got married.

Have you ever noticed how we all find our parents looking so elegant in these beautiful old sepia toned images that we so fondly treasure and often, even share online with a proud sigh in the heart… the very same ones where we found our mothers looking elegantly beautiful and our fathers, utterly handsome. That happened primarily because of the unpretentious and very real lives they led in their times …. the smile was warm… the stance was natural….the laughter was from the core… the dressing was unrehearsed….essentially, they simply did not try too hard.

Cut to today! I wonder if this generation’s kids are going to sigh or gasp in the future, when they see their parents photos from this era…. you know, the ones that are buckling under peer pressure (thought that was primarily for teenagers?)… the very same ones who seemed to have discovered that puckering lips towards a certain direction is seductively hot! (Not!!)… the ones who believe in (un)healthy competetion (with their kids)… the ones with a rampant penchant for tummy tuckers, jabs in the face, and (for some of our country-women specifically, who need to believe in their own country’s style quotient a lot more), that LBD which never was really meant for them in the first place or worse, that ‘gown’ which may look  gorgeous on a leggy Gal Gadot but not on our flabby Wonder Women (no offence)

People….embrace true style….be beautiful within and the external will naturally fall into place …. consider making your parents your style icons … and improvise to become one for your own kids.
And yes, the way we’re going, I don’t think our pictures are getting posted anywhere by our kids in the near future… other than perhaps, in a virtual frame with a garland of virtual flowers (with virtually no feelings) when we decide to cross over 😇.

Get Real!

Ps* Thoughts triggered on chancing upon my parents photo, shown above.

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Italy

 

I’ve always been biased towards Europe…. the fact that this delicious pie is made up of so many parts, each slice with its own delightful and distinct spirit…the fact that the old and the new coexist within the same geographical boundaries with such ease … the fact that history romances modernity is near perfect proportions… and the reality that one can literally hire a car and drive from one experience to another on the most scenic routes known to man are perhaps amongst the few ingredients that enrich my penchant for Europe. And yet, there is much I have to see there… there is much to be absorbed…much to be shared… and these are the journeys I much look forward to.

Italy! A country I have visited several times and yet, it fascinates me more each and every time. I do however believe, that I still have to take in the true soul of this country… yet, i must admit that it remains one of my most favourite destinations in the world… for within (and besides) the usual suspects i.e. its Architecture, Art, Style and History lie several of its hidden secrets. You need to simply walk in its cobblestoned alleys, manoeuvre its mysterious canals, drive through its usually gratifying countryside and feast on the multitude of all that satisfies one’s senses, (and never in the garb of a tourist.)

Much more to be said and shared when i actually visit Italy next and soak myself in its magic once again, but till then, thought of sharing a few images made in Florence (Firenze) and Milan (Milano).

Have a Pizza today ! Celebrare!!

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Copyright: JJ Valaya/ All rights reserved. All images are the sole property of JJ Valaya. No part of this post/publication may be reproduced, stored in retrieval systems, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without prior permission of JJ Valaya. This applies to all acts of use, in particular such as the reproduction of pictures and text, their performance and demonstration, translation, filming, microfilming, broadcasting, storage and processing in electronic media

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Chapter Open.

I’ve never read a single book in my life (other than my school text books) and yet, I house a significant library, both at my home and in my office. I’ve also published 2 books of my own plus I write my own blog and sometimes, also for leading publications as a guest writer. Never ever have I felt the temptation to read (other than Rumi’s quotes) simply because my world in purely visual, the books in my library are coffee table books full of wonderful images and my own books are also based on photography. What this essentially implies is that I am more than content in my world of visual nirvana where words are merely used to express thoughts connected with strong imagery.  Yet, I have scores of friends who are avid book readers; some almost go weak in their knees when they get their hands on a paperback or hardback they’ve been (im)patiently waiting for; so whilst I’ve never understood the euphoric moments of such beings, I’ve always respected the literary types for their passion and knowledge. Recently however, I almost secretly wished, perhaps for the very first time, that I had the interest of reading in me and what triggered this rare desire was a simple book shop!

Chapter 101, a bookshop located in the New Delhi suburb of Gurgaon (now dismally renamed as Guru Gram) is pure romance! It is owned by my friend, Raju Singh (a fact that i was not aware of when someone suggested that i visit the store), a book-crazy banker and entrepreneur to fulfil his lifelong dream of owning such a bookstore. In their own words: “A den, a private retreat, the charms of a classic understated era… Chapter 101 is a bookstore intended to build a quiet literary atmosphere with carefully curated books beyond the bestsellers. It draws on the quiet to create a space where people are encouraged to spend time with the books and browse at leisure – a safe space for revisiting the time-cherished classics and also to find a new favourite among contemporary authors.” To drive home the point that there is pure passion behind the concept, the store is also managed by Rohan Dahiya, a young author, blogger and visual artist whose love for books drew him to the store.

As always, I find it unfair to give away too much in a blog (the images will speak as much as they can) as it is my belief that spaces created with such love are meant to be experienced to be able to assimilate the romance that they permeate.

Whilst i may still never get down to reading a book, I do see myself visiting C101 several times… to listen to the great background music, to enjoy the (free) coffee (and hopefully some interesting company), and to witness several enlightened individuals select, from the multitude of options available, a place to rest their derrière on, to browse through an inspiring and rare collection of published treasures whilst simultaneously experiencing what i am sure would only qualify as induced literary orgasms.

PS* Raju Singh, whose baby this wonderful store is can be spotted in shorts matching his hair in one of the images.

Copyright: JJ Valaya/ All rights reserved. All images are the sole property of JJ Valaya. No part of this post/publication may be reproduced, stored in retrieval systems, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without prior permission of JJ Valaya. This applies to all acts of use, in particular such as the reproduction of pictures and text, their performance and demonstration, translation, filming, microfilming, broadcasting, storage and processing in electronic media

 

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