Sunday, November 17, 2013

Book Review : Asterix and the Picts

Asterix and the Picts : by Jean-Yves Ferri (Author) and Didier Conrad (Illustrator)

Its been a while since we got a well rounded adventure from the Asterix canon. With that master tale spinner Goscinny not around, Uderzo did a fabulous job at the art but not at the script. With that becoming the trend, this legendary world appeared to be doomed to be frozen.

Jean-Yves Ferri, the new story teller, has resurrected this celebrated village in style. It has all the magic of the olden times, the action, adventure, and at times predictable lines, yet with enough happening. The story is also refreshing and reminds of several past adventures. there is a lot happening, and is busy just as the Gaulish village is known to be. Its comical, funny and very colorful.

Didier Conrad, who has taken the mantle from Albert Uderzo, has brought the story to life faithfully in the Marcinelle style, that Uderzo popularized. and his style fits right in with so many things in each frame that came to define this adventure series.

I enjoyed reading an Asterix after a long time, and certainly recommend this for the fans of Asterix, and also to a new generation who can get started on this and go back to the original series.

This is an extract from my review at, You can find more of my reviews here. 

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Book Review : Treasures of South India - தென்னாட்டு செல்வங்கள்

Art of India, particularly the ancient South Indian Art, is synonymous with sculpture. Gods, Goddesses, Temples, Dancers, Door guardians, Commoners, Horses, Elephants and several mythical Animals, and others talk to us directly in the beautiful medium of Stone as well as metal. 

Hundreds of years have passed, in fact more than a thousand years have passed, since these wonders were made by master sculptors. The sculptors have gone, their Kings vanished, their homes, palaces, and even their cities exist no more, yet this magical essays and poems cast in stone have lived long enough to tell us the tales.

In the 40s and 50s, the most popular weekly magazine in the South, the Anadha Vikatan, began a fantastic series on the sculptures of the South. The mammoth task was taken up by the brilliant Pen and Ink artist P. M. Sreenivasan, rightly known as Silpi (Sculptor). For the next decade he traveled the breadth and width of the land of Temples, and made 1000s of sketches in indelible Indian ink, on location!

Silpi was an inspiration for me decades ago, when I was a kid, and had taken a liking to drawing. every little picture that would appear here and there would become a treasure, and I would keep them very safely. His drawings had a magical appeal, they reflected the realistic dimensions of the sculptures, with full of vigor and life produced by his brisk strokes which today reminds me of likes of Charles Dana Gibson, and Heinrich Kley.

After years of waiting, there is a fabulous treat for this New Year. Vikatan Media has published a massive two volume collection of the entire series titled தென்னாட்டு செல்வங்கள்  (Treasures of South India) in a beautiful Hardbound format. Apart from the fine pen and ink work, this series included some of the best paintings of the Gods, which adore almost every house hold. The book contains this collection as well!

One can see the mastery of the art, be it the form or the gesture, there is grace that goes beyond realism, and connects the viewer in a mystical manner.

The series takes us on a visual tour of several ancient cities that has very rich history that goes back thousands of years. 

Beginning at Madurai, some of the several places that are covered include Darasuram, Kanchipuram, Tanjavur, Chidambaram, Srirangam, as well as Belur and Halebid. We get to see the grandeur of the Big Temple, The Gangai Konda Cholapuram in all its glory. 

This book is a treasure. contains thousands of sculptures in 900 pages that form the two volume set.  One is spellbound at the masterly strokes of Silpi, capturing the essence, elegance, grace and the spirit of the ancient works , further making it available for millions to enjoy.

Hope you got a glimpse of it by clicking on the images to view in a fuller size, I could not scan it due to the copyrighted material. Hope you get your hands on this soon before it gets sold out!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Chitrasutra : Treatise on The Art of Painting

Chitrasutra is an ancient Indian treatise on painting, forming part of the larger encyclopedic text The Vishnudharmottara. It is dated around 7th Century AD. This text collected the theory and practise of the art of painting and covered several advanced concepts for the painter.

A few quotes from the text ..

The masters praise the rekha's –lines (delineation and articulation of form); the connoisseurs praise the display of light and shade; women like the display of ornaments; and , the richness of colors appeals  to common folks. The artists, therefore, should take great care to ensure that the painting is appreciated by every one.

The six limbs (anga) of painting as: rupa-bheda (variety of form); pramana (proportion); Bhava (infusion of emotions); lavanya-yojanam (creation of luster and having rainbow colors that appear to move and change as the angle at which they are seen change); sadreya (portrayal of likeness); and varnika-bhanga (color mixing and brushwork to produce the desired effect).

The concern of the artist should not be to just faithfully reproduce the forms around him. The artist should try to look beyond the tangible world, the beauty of form that meets the eye. He should lift that veil and look within. Look beyond “The phenomenal world of separated beings and objects that blind the reality beyond”.

Shri Sreenivasarao Subbanna has written a scholarly series of wonderful articles elucidating its contents and followed up with a beautiful research  of the application of the theory in subsequent centuries. I am providing a little index of sorts to his wonderful set of articles.

The Art of Painting

Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Annexure to Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Annexure to Chapter 5

Image Courtesy Shri S Rajam
The Legacy of Chitrasutra

Chapter 1
Chapter 2 - Pitalkhora
Chapter 3 - Badami
Chapter 4 - Sittannavasal
Chapter 5 - Panamalai
Chapter 6 - Kailasanatha of Kanchi
Chapter 7 - Brihadishvara
Appendix to Chapter 7 - The Maratha Nayak Paintings
Chapter 8 - Sri Pampa Virupaksha Temple Hampi
Chapter 9 - Lepakshi
Chapter 10 - Jaina Kanchi
Chapter 11 - Murals of Kerala
Chapter 12 - Murals of Kerala Mattanchery and Padmanabhapuram
Chapter 13 - Shri S Rajam Part I
Chapter 14 - Shri S Rajam Part II

This series of articles throws light on the rich tradition of the schools of painting in India from antiquity, and helps understand the evolution of style and methods, which fall highly on the Abstract and Symbolic side.

A 1928 translation of the original text can be found at the Archive.Org.