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Posts Tagged ‘Leonardo da Vinci’

ashokbhatia

A friend suggested visiting the National Gallery in Oslo. Having had the opportunity of admiring the works of Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Pablo Picasso and others in the last few years, I was naturally curious as to what Norwegian artists had come up with in the past. The visit turned out to be a truly instructive one. I realized the depth and range of work done by painters as well as sculptors and marvelled at the passion and artistic fervour of the artists concerned.IMG_1716

Founded in 1837, the National Gallery houses Norway’s largest public collection of paintings, drawings and sculptures. In its permanent and temporary exhibitions, the museum presents older art, with principal emphasis on art from Norway.IMG_1652

Highlights from the collection are shown in the permanent exhibition “The Dance of Life – The Collection from Antiquity to 1945”.IMG_1664

The exhibition presents a chronological overview of more than 300 Norwegian…

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A friend suggested visiting the National Gallery in Oslo. Having had the opportunity of admiring the works of Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Pablo Picasso and others in the last few years, I was naturally curious as to what Norwegian artists had come up with in the past. The visit turned out to be a truly instructive one. I realized the depth and range of work done by painters as well as sculptors and marvelled at the passion and artistic fervour of the artists concerned.IMG_1716

Founded in 1837, the National Gallery houses Norway’s largest public collection of paintings, drawings and sculptures. In its permanent and temporary exhibitions, the museum presents older art, with principal emphasis on art from Norway.IMG_1652

Highlights from the collection are shown in the permanent exhibition “The Dance of Life – The Collection from Antiquity to 1945”.IMG_1664

The exhibition presents a chronological overview of more than 300 Norwegian and international masterpieces from the Renaissance, the Baroque period, Romanticism, Realism, Impressionism, Symbolism, Cubism and modern abstract art. IMG_1658

Special attention is devoted to paintings by J.C. Dahl and Romanticism, Christian Krohg and Realism, Edvard Munch’s renowned works, as well as Norwegian evocative painting from the turn of the last century.The_Scream

Central attractions include Edvard Munch’s The Scream and Madonna and paintings by Cézanne and Monet.IMG_1672

Paintings by Picasso and several other artists are also on display.IMG_1683

In the exhibition on abstract art, one could see some striking works. A particular one I found of great interest was entitled ‘The Universal Flag.’IMG_1638

With more than 4,000 paintings, 1,000 sculptures and nearly 50,000 works on paper, the National Gallery’s art collection is the most comprehensive and wide ranging in Norway, and one of the largest of its kind in Northern Europe.IMG_1692

Michelangelo is said to have taken four years to adorn the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Leonardo da Vinci is said to have taken three years to finish ‘The Last Supper.’ Dahl is said to have taken six years to paint ‘Stalheim’; remarkably, he did it while he was nowhere near a fjord in Norway!Dahl-Stalheim

All these eminent artists worked in an age devoid of photography, computers, internet, trains, aeroplanes and mobile phones. They suffered innumerable hardships while creating their works. Since they simply loved what they were doing at the time, they would have surely derived immense joy and satisfaction while pursuing their creative goals.IMG_1678

Leads one to wonder how creativity originates. We may know the external circumstances and the trials and tribulations they faced. We may marvel at the outstanding works of art they have produced. We may surmise as to the motivation and the feeling behind each work. But would we ever know the precise moment when the germ of an idea really hit them? How long did it simmer within them before taking a tangible shape? Unless they have left behind an autobiographical account, or someone else has covered their life and times in some detail, we might never be able to identify the real point of origin of their creative outburst.IMG_1689

Surely, all great artists have a streak of divinity in them. Besides, they have passion for their form of art. Patience and perseverance would be only two of their several sterling qualities. They would also have been lucky to get mentors who spotted and nurtured their talents. Some blossomed in adversity, enabled perhaps only by their innermost conviction.IMG_1702

We may not know the exact point of conception. We may be unaware of the technical details or the process of eventual delivery. But we shall be forever grateful that they have left behind a rich tapestry of the dance of life, capturing its precious moments for posterity. It is a legacy which continues to attract, entice and inspire artists and laymen alike all over the world.

Note: ‘Scream’ and ‘Stalheim’ reproductions are courtesy Wikipedia. Others are a result of my photographic skills, which are severely limited. Please bear with me for deficiencies – if you notice any – in these.  

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When one speaks of an Indian-Italian courtship these days, one’s imagination invariably veers around to the recent diplomatic row between the two countries on a matter involving the highest ‘court’ of India and the unfortunate death of two Indian fishermen at the hands of two marines of an Italian ‘ship’. But the ‘courtship’ between the two countries is much broader and deeper than this!

Italy and India are so similar, yet so different. One is a developed country; the other is striving to meet its Ajanta_Padmapanidevelopmental goals. One has a population of 62 million; the other is struggling to cope with its 1.2 billion! Italy is placed 10th in overall GDP terms globally, whereas India is placed at 3rd. In per capita terms though, Italy (USD 30,116) is 29th in the world, whereas India (USD 3,851) is placed 129th!

Yet, the two countries are very similar to each other! Both Italians and Indians tend to be warm-hearted, open and talkative. Both share a common disdain for their politicians and judiciary. Whether it is art and culture, variety of cuisine and language, history and geography, heritage and movies, both share several common characteristics. Both are famous for their movies, motor scooters, cars and gossip magazines.

The Italian Charms!

Indians have fallen for Italian charms since quite some time. During the 1970s, the preferred choice of a scooter in India was Vespa, an Italian brand. Espresso coffee soon followed and quickly became a household name. Pizza was the next to captivate the taste buds of Indians of all age groups. Gucci, Prada, Armani and Versace are already the favourite brands of the well-heeled. Several other major brands – like Alberta Ferreti, Fendi, Byblos and Scorpion Bay, to name only a few – have already firmed up plans to woo the Indian customer in the days to come.Colosseum_in_Rome,_Italy

Each state in India has its own delectable cuisine. Likewise, all the 20 regions of Italy boast of their own cuisines. If India has its paranthas, chhole-kulche and dosas, Italy has pizzas, risotto, lasagne and pasta. In each category, both offer a mind-boggling variety to choose from.

Mamma Mia!

Both countries place a high emphasis on family values, especially the affection their own brand of tiger moms bestow on their respective precious cubs! Culturally, within a family, the male adult comes first, is served first at the table and is fussed over better. It is never in doubt as to who wears the pants in the family. Females in both countries play an important role in the kitchen and like to focus on displaying their culinary skills better.

Both Italians and Indians tend to be passionate and express their feelings loud and clear when upset! In both countries, weddings are increasingly based on love, as opposed to being ‘arranged’ in the past.

A Soulful Connection

For Indians who have perfected the art of living with filth and squalor all around them, visiting Italy is like a sophisticated and upgraded home-coming of sorts. Despite being a European country, Italy has a unique Indian touch which captivates and enamours the Indian soul quite effectively.IMGP9042

Taking a leisurely stroll near the Rome Termini Train Station, one is gently reminded of similar surroundings of the railway stations in India. Running into few homeless vagabonds sleeping in a corner is quite likely. The stench of stale urine emanating from a boundary wall makes one feel quite at home. However, one still misses the graphic art masterpieces in various hues of maroon so lovingly created by our paan-chewing brethren on all kinds of walls back home.

One will find laundry drying and ladies squatting and chatting away merrily on roads and streets. Driving on roads is the same, that is, on the left side. Also, there is no difference in driving habits; in India as well as in Italy, the values of Freedom, Fraternity and Democracy are upheld with remarkable zeal on the roads, holding all rules in sheer contempt!

How We Hate Our Courts and Politicians

There is a shared contempt of courts. Emblem_of_Italy.svg was sentenced to a year in prison but does not appear to be going to jail anytime soon. The Indian legislative bodies can justifiably claim to have a liberal sprinkling of criminals. If Italy has a strong presence of the mafia, India has its own share of the underworld dons.

People in both countries are perhaps tired of the ruling dispensation as well as the opposition camps of all hues. Recent elections in Italy have thrown up a hung parliament. India has been experimenting with the coalition model of governance for more than two decades now and can offer rich expertise to Italy on managing Emblem_of_India.svg‘coalition compulsions’!

The Begging Bowl Syndrome

Italy and India share the same level of income disparities amongst their populace. If one were to go by the UN Gini index, Italy was assessed at 32 in 2006, whereas India was assessed at 33.4 in 2005. (Nil disparity would mean the Gini index would be ‘zero’; maximum disparity would mean the Gini index would be ‘100’). India has a middle class which keeps suffering in the space of public delivery of services in dignified silence.

It comes as no surprise that begging is an invariable part of life and is an art practised in both the countries. However, it is far more sophisticated in Italy. Boarding a train, one could find a pretty young lady claiming to be deserted by her boy-friend openly seeking money to raise her kids. On the streets of Florence, one could encounter statuesque artists dressed up in plaster-of-paris-like costumes, seeking alms.

History and GeographyVitruvianMan

Historically, India had been mostly ruled by the Mughals and the British. Italy had been under the influence of Austria, France and Germany. Both were cobbled together by several princely states, distinct kingdoms or regions coming together.

Geographically, both countries have similar profiles. Italy has the Alps on its Northern side, just like India has the Himalayas. Sea beaches are in abundance in both the countries. Italy shares its borders with France, Switzerland, Austria and Slovenia. India does so with China, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Bhutan and Nepal. In fact, Andaman and Nicobar share a maritime boundary with Thailand and Indonesia.Luciano_Pavarotti

Fine Arts and Science

Both Italy and India have had truly illustrious people in the realm of fine arts, literature, sculpture and science. If Italy can boast of Leonardo da Vinci, Galileo Galilei, Enrico Fermi and Dante, India can talk of Aryabhatt, C V Raman, J C Bose and Rabindranath Tagore. If Italy has Pavarotti, India has Pandit Jasraj and M S Subbalakshmi. If Italy stakes claim to as many as 47 UNESCO World Heritage sites, India does it for 29.

Language, Religion and Regional InitiativesPandit_Jasraj

Italian language has several dialects. Indians cope with as many as 26 scheduled languages, many of which have several dialects.

More than 91% of Italians are Christians. India has Hindus, Sikhs, Muslims, Christians and Jains as major groups of a diverse religious landscape.

Italy is a founding member of NATO and EU. India had espoused the cause of Panchsheel and is a founding member of BRICS. Italy is home to the Vatican. India is home to diverse ethnic groups and religions. Both are held to be important regional powers.

Architectural and Artistic Elegance

India boasts of the Taj Mahal which took 16 years to build. Italy boasts of St. Peter’s Basilica which took 120 years to get compTajleted. India has the Qutab Minar; Italy has the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

The difference surely lies in the attention paid towards maintenance of museums, heritage buildings and the exquisite paintings and sculptures Italy possesses. Visiting ‘The Last Supper’ by Leonardo da Vinci in Milan, one would notice the exquisite care with which the humidity and temperature are controlled in the hall containing the famous fresco. The care with which Michelangelo’s original masterpiece of ‘David’ is maintained in a Florence museum is something to be learnt from.

In India, tourists keep defacing the Ajanta and Ellora murals as well as all historical monuments with utter disregard and impDavid_von_Michelangelounity, slowly destroying a very rich heritage that the country possesses.

Lessons in Governance

When it comes to governing the ungovernable, there is a lot that Italy can learn from India. The latter has unique expertise in managing a complex country which can justifiably boast of flourishing black markets, mobsters, super-slow courts, crooked politicians, warring business families, hosting mega religious gatherings like the Kumbh Mela, cities which think they are states, states which believe they are independent countries and regions which believe they are continents.

Coming back to the marines imbroglio, diplomacy has won the day. Both Italy and India have managed to avoid embarrassing each other in international forums.The_Last_Supper

One has no doubt that despite occasional friction which is the hallmark of a deeper engagement, the two countries will continue with their courtship for a long time to come!

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