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Archives by Month: September, 2010

Its so nice to receive such wonderful feedback from all readers, believe me it was as interesting and thoroughly enjoyable to me and the artist Mrs. Subhashini Balasubrmanian, as it has been to you, to finally be able to fulfill a long pending and cherish dream, of seeing this beautiful panel in one piece. But then, we wanted to share with you the journey of our recreation process, so that you also learn want we learn’t working on this assignment.

Thankfully, a lot of finer detail was made available to us by Jagadeesh’s high resolution photos of the four remaining panels of the Kanchi Kailasantha Somaskanda Pantings. We once again thank him for his timely support.

Having done the general composition of the panel, we returned to study the panels at more depth to figure out the gana and the attendant. The Gana was tough, as only a part of his face was available in one of the panels, so we had to do the rest from a bit of artistic license.

gana

The lady attendant and the details of the beautiful saree pattern of Umai came to us from the panel.

umai+dress+details+lady+attendant
sketch+umai+dress+lady+attendant

The next was the question of the pitcher or vase, though not there in any of panels - for all the panels have peeled off - we do not have any reference to this portion in the panels, people following the thread on Somaskanda Evolution would have found the small pitcher being a permanent feature in all of Rajasimha’s Somaskanda Panels. Take for example this somaskanda from the Mallai shore temple, though the gana and attendant are not there for sure, we do get to see this prominent pitcher / vase.

shoretemple+somaskanda+vase

So, the vase finds its place in our recreation as well.

gana+lady+attendant+vase

The next ofcourse was Brahma. Only one of the panels, has a outline of Brahma.

brahma+outline

Depending on this, showing the side faces of Brahma was a bit tricky. So we decided to take inspiration from the splendor of Pullamangai temple.

pullamangai+brahma+as+guide

and fashioned our Brahma. ( the lower hands must be changed to anjali - praying posture - we should do it soon)

brahma+showing+the+faces

Thankfully, Vishnu was pretty straight forward with one of the panel surviving completely giving us a shot at the magnificence of the Pallava artist.

vishnu
sketch+vishnu

So the next question before us was Skanda.

detail+umai+crown.jpg
shaping+up.jpg

We needed to get upclose to see if we could spot the features of baby Skanda, it was very important, for isn’t he the most beautiful of Gods and imagine his as a small baby.

skanda
skanda2
sketch+skanda
sketch+skanda2

While, we were looking at the closeups, we realised that the Throne did not have lion motifs as had envisioned them, but were just decorative patterns.

no+lion+legs
normal+legs+throne

Now, to get Umai’s face, headdress and posture correct.

umai+face.jpg
sketch+umai+face

Shiva, was especially tough, the toughest being the Hand mudras, ( we were helped by a small note - but we will see that in the concluding part of this series). Take for eg, his upper right hand.

shiva+hand+mudras1

The Makuda of Shiva, was especially tough one, as we wanted to get as close as possible to the original.

detail+shiva+makuda
detail+shiva+makuda2
detail+shiva+makuda3
shiva+face+makuda
shiva+face+makuda2

There was this particular design on the head dress, that was very vaguely familiar, but searching for it in sculpture and paintings, finally stuck pay dirt in Dr R. Nagasamy sir’s Masterpieces of South Indian Bronzes. This Pallava bronze, had a very unique twin makara clasps.

twin+makara+illustrated
twin+makara+makuda+clasp

So,we could add that authentic detail into our sketch as well.

shiva+crown+detail

and here we have arrived at a basic prototype, to further iterate and work on adding embellishments.

whole+composition

I am sure, all of your are eager to see the finished color version, but that will be in the third and concluding part of this series.

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The lure of the recreating the lost treasures of Rajasimha’s famed paintings has been on my drawing board for long. Having experienced the sheer ecstasy of seeing the fragments of brilliance that are still remaining, my heart wept with a strange mixture of joy and sorrow. Joy at knowing that the pinnacle of artistic talent that my land had 1300 years ago, that he could still take my breath away - albeit only in traces, the grace of his lines, the versatility of his palette, the excellence of form , stumped me. Sorrow at the realisation, that having survived for so long, the day that these would not be there anymore to inspire and impress a future generation, was not far away.

pallava+somaskanda+remananets.jpg
pallava+somaskanda+remanents2.jpg
pallava+somaskanda+remanents3.jpg

Modern photography techniques and the net, could help me to a certain extent, to at least capture these for posterity, but then there was always a niggle, a silent wish to be able to see these beauties in their original finery. My imagination helped in painting them in my mind, but to be able to transfer this onto the physical plane, needed greater acumen. My early attempts are tracing them, using manual tracing paper and online trace software, proved that this was not a task for technologically empowered, but for someone who had it in the genes.

Call it luck and chance, or maybe an inner desire of these beauties to be recast and re adored - a causal visit to a Art exhibition, of friends from Facebook, led to an introduction to none other than the clan of Sri Maniam. yes, the master who illustrated Kalki’s immortal works,Immortal works , whose Son Sri Maniam Selvan has continued in his tradition, - his works ,but it was not he, but the granddaughters of the great man. The fertile minds of the master has indeed spawned a second generation of divine artists ! So, i did get to meet Mrs. Subhashini Balasubramanian . We talked about Kalki, his works and obviously about art. Being the greedy guy that I am, I immediately sought her help on the long standing wish, and she readily agreed. We decided to start with the Somaskanda Panels of Kanchi Kailasanthar temple.

The task was not easy, but we didn’t know that fate and destiny had in store for us. The paintings are in really bad state and we had to form a collage of about 4 different works, to compare and pick out missing details. Unfortunately, despite my claims of having a large database, i could not get decent quality / resolution of these paintings. A frenetic search with friends and well wishers didn’t yield the desired results either.

faintpanel+netsourcejpg
from+ravages.jpg

We had to work with what we had in hand, putting together the bits and pieces. Just as i was loosing heart,I got the first cut from Subhasini…

first+cut

I was clean bowled by the clarity in the work and the inherent beauty in the form. Clearly, the genes have gotten to work and I knew that my objective was not a distant dream but a definite reality. We were working for a week on the details, but the problem of obtaining high resolution photos for closer study loomed large. Just then, a mail arrives from a school boy. He had chatted with me sometime in May through sculpture chat on the site, …he was from vellore and was waiting for his ICSE X std results. The mail reads

“You are invited to view prithviraj’s photo album: kanc
Hello anna! Do you remember me? Am Rajakesari. I would like to share some photographs i took in Kanchipuram with u. I would be happy if these photos will be useful to you.”

And inside we see the exact photos which we wanted, the exact angles and he sent me the high resolution images as well. What a coincidence !! I can see you asking me, why all this about high resolution images, well you will understand as we see the recreation process.

Here is our Hero, Jagadesh, studying 11th Std now in Vellore.

hero+jagadesh

The art of the Pallavas, so superbly nurtured by Rajasimha Pallava, finds release through the lens of a 11std Boy today and feeds our aspirations to recreate them.

Brahma

brahma+closeup
brahma+outline
brahma+test

Umai

umai+high+resolution

Vishnu

vishnu+high+resolution

The need for high resolution images, comes to the fore as we explore the numerous highlights and new motiffs and features come to the fore. This Gana and lady attendant are spotted.

gana+lady+attendant+below
lady+attendant+below+umai

We try and experiment with Lion motifs for the legs of the throne - like the ones we saw in the Mallai Mahishasuramardhini Mandabam

somaskanda+mahishasuramardhini+mandabam+detail
the+lion+legs

To come up with the next versions of the sketch.

second+cut
third+cut

Its shaping up quite well, but you have to wait for the next part of this post to see more !!

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