More details on the website and post performance reviews later tonight or tomorrow morning!
October 24, 2009
Beautiful! the programme ended past 10 pm...the Dakshina presentation always comes before the featured artiste. More on this later.
Alarmel Valli, performing after 10 years in DC was her elegant, sparkling and vivid self. As was expected, her training in the Pandanallur style of bharathanatyam, brings forth the exquisite aspects of abhinaya in her presentations.
The choreography and the understanding between the artist and her accompanists was seamless...the dancer and her musician/violinist were in a delicate rythm and tune during the entire session... even when Valli would end a piece, go off the stage and come back..the impromptu piece that Sigamani did flowed into her arrival in the music of her chellangai.
Seeing an artist on the stage it is easy to forget that some of them can also express themselves in words. Many artists who work in one medium and language and try to explain it through words in the English language, fall short.. not the case with Alarmel Valli.
For someone who hears Alarmel Valli for the first time, it is something like a 10 year old's excalmation, "she speaks as well as she dances!"Erudite, not preachy, with just the right amount of translation into English, never losing the beauty of the original language, Valli has a beautiful voice too!
In her performance yesterday, she focussed on her composition: The Forgotten Seed. She started off with Shiva Pancharatna Stotra which incorporated five rythmic variations, in cycles of 5, 4, 3, 7 and 9.
Just got to my notes made during the Summer of 2009.Pictures left behind in India: awaiting their arrival through email or post!
Website:Not a very classy website, more in the lines of standard Indian textbooks and GOI websites announcing various vacancies.
Museum The sculptures and the Harappan collections are the strongest in this museum. Is it displayed well? Yes and No. Looked after well? No. People happily, randomly and specifically touch all sculptures as they please! Small random signs advising not to touch, but advice not enforced!
Museum Shop upstairs: Disinterested keeper, random kitschy junk which has no rhyme or reason to be there. Some random portfolios thrown among crafty cards, covered in dust. Reflects the worst kitschy-ness in Indian Art: jumble of Kashmir-Rajasthani-North Indian random crafts which is someone's idea of India!!!! A few minutes away one will find better products on the pavements of Janpath and Connaught Place. Forget it!
Museum-Counter Shop with half empty shelves behind: Good service.Not enough goods! The museum was in a frenzy of closed galleries, renovation works, non-functioning fountains bare in blue plastic in the central courtyard for the 2010 Commonwealth Games. The better portfolio collection carried only one portfolio: that of the 1982 Asiad Games! Pictures tomorrow! Some good reproductions from the Harappan Collections but none available except for the exquisite Harappan seals-reproduction copies in plaster-of-paris. Then only some of them! Ok, not great. some portfolios, slightly dusty book collections: Bought the Chola Bronzes and the Harappan Civilization book.
Museum Cafe: If the electricity is out, be prepared to stew on the top most floor. Attentive service, red checkered table cloths: why? Don't we have enough fabrics or designers to come up with something unique?
Menu: Fair priced menu, for the location and good food. Not exceptional. The plate of Rava Idlis: 30/- came with 2 fat idlis sambhar and chutney. Rs. 30/- for an cold coffee, Indian style: good! Buffet was on with 4 covered containers. Did not check. Server suggested Masala Dosa as being a 'good item'. The elderly manager, a Sikh gentleman eating masala dosa but not forgetting to say 'thankyou for coming'!
One of the better maintained websites with ease of navigation and information plus images of the collections
Hosted in the beautiful Jaipur House in Delhi, the NGMIA was undergoing extensive renovations during the summer of 2009 when I visited. The Museum opens at 10 am.The India Gate is across the street, if you negotiate the road circle and hop across the grass lawns of the India Gate.
The original wing was closed and the collections were in the new wing, inaugrated by Sonia Gandhi in January 2009.
The new wing has been constructed in keeping with the old building.
Screeching sounds of tile polishers, strong smell of polish and paint in the upper levels of the first building.
The old banyan tree on the way to the 'canteen' is one of the most beautiful 'living' features on the grounds among the scattered art works.
The new building is well organised and the staff was helpful and courteous. One can have a locker with a key to put in the bag. Photography and videos are not allowed.
Loud bustling entry of the cleaning crew in blue and strange contrast between the luminous displays and the mundane conversations echoing across the canvas space.
Peace and solitude with only art for company.
Few visitors but a glass polisher peeping from outside the french window.
Yellow upholstered sofas, stained on close-up.
View of the Jamini Roy prints in the Museum Shop through the glass and Nandlal Bose's enchanting works in the ground level and as the eye travels upwards, one catches glimpses of Modern Indian Art through the years...
Abhanindranath Tagore, Shanthiniketanartists: Nandlal Bose's works arranged in the lower level are
among the best in museum displays/organization.
Favourites among others:
Bose's Haripura Posters and postcard pictures in pen and pencil.
And then one walks back up to see the European Colonial Artists- The Company School
Not so much enamoured!
The Tanjore and Mysore paintings have been juxtaposed between two different periods and felt a little strange and out of place.
The Miniature paintings also felt forlorn, as in the National Museum ... in comparison to the jewels that India lost to what now consists of the MuraqqaImperial Mughal Albums collection in the Chester Beatty Library, Dublin.
Muraqqa': Imperial Mughal Albums from the Chester Beatty Library, Dublin at the Arthur M Sackler Gallery, DC from May 3, 2008-August 3, 2008
The next wing through a connecting corridor hosts the more contemporary paintings from modern Indian artists.
Since the official website hosts a good view of the collections, will not rave here on the favourites nor rant about the some of the more opposite..:-)
However, I draw the line at giving valuable gallery space to sculptures/installations, with old railway line bleachers, a torn dirtied plaster of paris screen and assorted bent wires.
While not looking for 'pretty art', there is a fine line between what is 'art' and...the unecessary!
A walk around any one of our cities will promise you much more refined living versions of the above...which are far from contrived and also aesthetic to the eye and mind!
Huge canvases popping out with the 'poster-art' of bollywood films from the South: Vijayanthimala, Nutan...
Could not see much of Lala Deen Dayal but there were fun and interesting Black and White Bollywood pictures of choreographers like Saroj Khan and various bollywood actors.
A good visual position from the lobby of the museum.
Museum Shop Salesperson: droopy, slow to pick out the prints and products pointed out. He was being courted by an earnest young man, trying to sell him a new mobile phone and a new plan.
Salesperson bends down and picks up a clear bottle with clear liquid, adds water from an orange plastic mug with a white lid, downs it in a gulp. Puts the bottle back in the closed cabinet beneath the counter which displays the sample portfolios of the Museum Artists, turns back, sadder and droopier! Products: The prints are not stored well..since many of them have dings and dirt finger marks and the salesperson licks them to separate them from the piles.
Museum Shop Products: a good set of coffee mugs with Jamini Roy and K G Subramanyam prints among others. Some good paperweights, well packaged and eye-catching. Some of the prints advertised in the website might not be available and the toddly Museum Shop-keeper might just block you off with his potent drink!!!
Refreshments The 'canteen'/cafeteria is a smallish alcove on the side of the building with random chairs in colorful plastic and serves coffee,tea bottled water and serves one of the blandest 'aloo-puffs' [pastries filled with a spiceless potato mix] in Delhi!!! Inrs 7/each.
Clean well maintained bathrooms. At least the one in the galleries housing the most recent works.
In the height of summer in Delhi, you can walk down to the Lodi Gardens and relax, or walk a little further, straight down Lodi Road ending at the gates of Safdarjung's tomb. While the walk is along the shady pathway, there is no let up to the heat and sweat.
Walk on a little bit more, pay the Rs 5 fee, walk on past the waterbody onto the main building, climb up the stairs and collapse near one of the doorways, either side of the main entrance: the breeze is unbelievable and calm and quiet is broken only by the laughter of college kids playing hide and seek: boys and girls free from supervision and perhaps the unwanted attention a single woman visitor garners:
Can I sit here?
It is a public place
Am I disturbing you?
Are you alone?
No, waiting for someone.
Do you work?
Is this your first time in Delhi
No, I keep coming for work
Do you like Delhi?
Not so much... need to be careful of Delhi folks.
Oh no, we have to change your impression..now that we have become friends.
We are not friends!
Are you married?
Are you from South India?
Are you Christian?
No [ my bindi must have fallen off with the sweat beads!]
So you are Hindu!
Slight nod. "No, I am pagan!" remains in the mental realm
Do you have kids?
Oh! ...Silence for a few minutes
"This peace is beautiful and these silly college kids are breaking it..."
They are fine! I like it!
After finding out the fact earlier, Shri Govind was shaken off by a remark to find out whether the door to the upper level was open or not.
By the time, Shri Govind went all around Safdarjung's first upper level looking for the stairs, moi was down the stairs and out through the entrance.
The ticket counter hosts the afternoon snooze of 3 employees with the fourth one manning the counter.
A request for brochures and other documents gets a nod towards the empty display counter and a question towards one of thesnoozers who obviously cannot make the effort and gives the usual Indian Babudom-brush-off, of finding it somewhere else and sometime later!!
With the kind of efforts and money being pumped by the GOI to primp the city in time for the 2010 Commonwealth Games, an eye and attention to Safdarjung's Tomb employees attitude might really spruce up the monument!