Thursday 27 February 2014

From shy to photographers delight!

However shy one may be to begin with, there's no stopping once confidence is triggered. The thought crossed my mind when I was clicking this cherubic, reticent little adivasi boy and saw him transform into a photographer's delight at Rekha Rana's recent 'Art Food for thought' study trip. This composed picture brings together multiple shots, to express what I felt.  Digitally composed by Anu Suhas.
However shy one may be to begin with, there's no stopping once confidence is triggered. The thought crossed my mind when I was clicking this cherubic, reticent little adivasi boy and saw him transform into a photographer's delight at Rekha Rana's recent 'Art Food for thought' study trip. This composed picture brings together multiple shots, to express what I felt.  Digitally composed by Anu Suhas.

Wednesday 26 February 2014

Sharing the gay abandon of an art field trip.

What an exhilarating experience

Imagine a day where you are in the outdoors, with likeminded people, doing what you love most, under no compulsion, simply liberating to say the least. Yesterday was one such day, thanks to Rekha Rana, artist and initiator of the ‘art – food for thought’ WhatsApp group. The venue for the
field trip was an adivasi village within the interiors of the Sanjay Gandhi National Park, Borivali, Mumbai.  We met at noon, artists Ratan Saha, Rekha Rana, Amit Kumar, Sujiet Podar, Arabinda Samanta and myself and drove deep into the unkempt woods when Ratan spotted the spot. ‘Let’s park here’

We packed our haversacks with art material, some snacks and water and began to explor. Dry shades of earthy brown was the overwhelming hue. Mud houses layered with the paste of dung and dry hay, sparse and clean environs housed the adivasi tribe at Teenchwadi. What got my notice was the absolute absence of any art. No wall paintings, no symbols, no signs of ritual spaces. Nature itself was the canvas here and we were let loose to find our subject of interest for our study.

Noon was nap time and so there was stillness around. Our audiences were the frisky black dog, white cat with unique yellow ochre eyes, loads of desi roosters and chickens with broods of chicks and highly intelligent crows. We had become the entertainers and they the entertained and all of us loved it. The surprise was the odd bangle seller who was on his rounds when all houses were shut. Left us wondering!

In the midst of drawing and sketching breezed in an adivasi girl with a broad smile and a glistening metal plate holding six cups of piping hot tea – That was our moment of the day. So while we take our tea break enjoy our experience through the picture gallery and let the pictures speak for themselves. Should any artist feel tempted to join us on our forthcoming trails, do call, my coordinates are mentioned below.
We all seem to have found our muse
The seller who came when customers were asleep
Feeling accomplished
Nature's dryer for handwashed clothes. Reminiscences of yesteryears

A splash of colour amidst dry brown hues
Amit's impression of me

Display time

Tuesday 25 February 2014

Remembering Dad

Many years ago in Delhi my father was at my brother DK Bose’s house, at the breakfast table he said -from this distance ‘I feel as if I am watching over the family in Mumbai from the sky’ he turned to mom saying ‘wonder whether, one day without us being there, will they all remain together in the years to come?’ Today it’s twelve long years without his physical presence and I know for sure, with a chest filled with pride he is telling Mom and my eldest brother who have joined him, to enjoy watching the united Basus and its many offshoots. 

Mid way my sis in law Anita’s father who had heard this concern /comment of Dad mentioned at his hospital bed “I will go and tell your father, his fears are groundless and to the contrary the family has only gone stronger” 

Today on this 12th year of remembrance as a tribute to dad let’s all pat each other for keeping the family strong with unity. A special thanks to every youngster of the 2nd and 3rd generation for tightening the bonds. 

I personally believe we all 49 members hit the jackpot at inception when we were chosen to be a part of this family. From all of us a chorus “Thank you Dad, for building this family factory”. 

Monday 24 February 2014

Tree of life

An interwoven tapestry of Indian motifs painted to express that all of life is connected. 
Acrylic on Canvas, 36'' x 48''
Artist : Mithu Basu.

Saturday 22 February 2014

I'm high on 'Highway'

To me a movie is all about story telling. Nothing more nothing less. Technology, stars, budgets, strategy's are all handmaidens to the story, precisely speaking - to how the story is told . Highway is simply the journey of a kidnapper and the kidnapped. but Director Imtiaz Ali turns it into an experience. Unknowingly you become a co- traveler journeying the highway together. What I found unique is that my emotions compassionately empathized with both, Alia Bhatt the kidnapped and Randeep Hooda the Kidnapper.

Two actors who made me believe that they weren't acting. They had got under the skin of Veera Tripathi and Mahabir Bhati. When a Director is bullseye focussed he finds his characters - actors, who leave themselves behind to become the clay muse for the Director to mould.. Alia's innocence, Randeep's 'beaten by life' ruggedness and the humane essence that lies within all of us, unfold transparent on celluloid. 

There are moments that you just want to hold on to "Alia's spontaneous outburst of dance, Randeep's inner turmoil and the riot of anguished emotions when Alia's beckons him into the dream home that they had found in the mountains. There are many such unforgettable moments on the highway journey and in the parallel child abuse undercurrents that run through the firmament of the film.

The music score by AR Rehman, Alia's song in her own voice embellish the story with purity. The snow capped mountains, cascading rivers, salt blown locales, untraveled mountain paths were caressed by the lingering, indulgent camera lens, allowing our eyes to drink in some more of the bewitching landscapes. If a film is all about team every player was committed to excellence. I heard some cinegoers say it was a tad bit slow and here I was so happy that it wasn't rushed. There may have been some glitches but my eyes were misty and I was high on Highway. Imtiaz Ali all strength to you to make the kind of movies you make right from your debut 'Socha na tha' I have loved them all. Saw it on the opening night yesterday and going back to see it again tomorrow. Greedy me.

Are my raves for Highway heightened because I went straight thereafter to see Hasee toh Phasee? Just a thought!

Friday 21 February 2014

Emotions by nature

My niece Nikita Das fills my home with joy. 
Her visit spilled my happiness onto this canvas I painted. 
(Acrylic on canvas, 24 x 36 inches)

Thursday 20 February 2014

Life - Let Go

When you live in surrender, life becomes a celebration.

What is life but a short journey, with a predetermined beginning and end, with just the middle to be lived? Life can go on without you but you are nothing without life. These realizations startled and awakened me into understanding the paradox of our insignificance in our significant lives. Who are we? What are we here for? What is expected of us? Setbacks were coming my way, as if life was applying its brakes for me to stop and introspect.

It seems like only yesterday, but it is close to four years now. The darkest night had descended on me. My parents, who were my world, were no more. I felt desolate. In spite of a large and supportive family, fear and insecurity engulfed me. Wrenching memories rushed in of the day when, as a new bride, I hadn't even exhausted my trousseau and had to return home for good. Unconditionally, my parents had cocooned me, like an oyster would a pearl. Being a divorcee is sad enough, but being one amidst a family of nine siblings, all happily married, is cruel. Juxtaposed, your incompleteness hits you on the face any which way you turn. My life had hit rock bottom. The hidden blessing was that it couldn't get worse.

Like balm, I took succor in the memories of my childhood. I vividly remembered and could even feel the abundance of love and pampering I grew up with. I was always made to feel very special. What had happened along the way? What went wrong? Why me? Persistent questions whirled within my mind. The inward thinking went on relentlessly, dissecting, analysing and evaluating every incident of my life. It was as if I was living in the past, with a present I didn't want to face and a future I didn't want to see. Unanswered questions heaped up. The chaos was getting unbearable. Just when the mind was about to snap, on hindsight, I saw a pattern in the events of my life.

A simple pattern, yet so radically profound that it revolutionized my thinking and gifted me my second lease of life.

I realized on reflection that all the positive milestones of my life were triggered by unplanned occurrences. I hadn't planned my education beyond graduation. I never dreamt I would be an artist or a writer and public relations was nowhere in my scheme of things. On a friend's insistence I did my post graduation. A brother initiated my vocation as an artist. A chance meeting opened for me the doors to writing. My foray into public relations added to the string of unplanned occurrences. In the negative instances, my effort in planning was evident.

With enthusiasm, I checked with family and friends to see if the findings of my hindsight introspection applied to them as well. Surprisingly it did. Try it with yourself and see whether you too agree. It set me thinking. If the best things in our lives happen unplanned, is there a master plan charted out for each one of us that we are unaware of? Are we spending our energies in planning, when all we were meant to do is to live the plan, already drawn to its fullest? When we plan, are we swimming against the tide? Then again, if we just choose to 'flow', are we negating our individualistic existence? As if to quell the volley of questions, a visual rolled out before my eyes.

It was a busy road. Fast cars were whizzing past. I was back in time, a little schoolgirl. Hopping and skipping, holding on to my father's little finger, I was crossing the road. The fast cars didn't frighten me. In fact I hadn't even noticed them. I didn't even bother to look to my left and then to my right before crossing, as I had been taught to. I was safe, because I was holding dad's little finger.

That is surrender. That is flow. I couldn't have understood it better.

I now live life in the serenity of surrender. With my parents no more, I imagine myself sometimes holding their little finger, sometimes the Creator's or sometimes that of a high power. Whosoever it may be, it surely isn't mine. The 'me' ego has been washed away. I am again the child I once was. Life can now throw at me the highs and lows that are my due. My implicit clarity of understanding is that 'it is for my good'. If it is evidently good, I rejoice with gratitude. If it is evidently negative, I dig deep to extract the learning embedded within and on finding it, I rejoice with gratitude.

When the mind surrenders, you let go and flow naturally. Inhibitions, constraints and other knots of the mind loosen up and usher in a season of abundance. The giving mind eschews skepticism, apprehension, fear and judgmental thinking. Thus unburdened, the mind is playful and cheerful. Just as nature only asks a rose to exude its fragrance, so also does nature ask us humans only to spread the smile of gratitude.

Surrender isn't escapism as many misconstrue it to be. It isn't absolving oneself of one's responsibilities. It isn't about leading one's life to another's wishes. It is about reposing implicit faith, trust and belief in a benevolent caretaker and taking full responsibility for your thoughts, actions and deeds. Surrender gives much but makes demands too. Integrity and honesty coupled with values and principles must be in place for you to be in harmony with the flow.

When I experienced surrender, life turned beautiful, light and joyful, as it was meant to be. With surrender comes trust. Trust begets trust. Life in turn, trusts you and chooses to live through you. Doors open, opportunities come by, good people come your way, even your wishful whispers get heard and answered and life becomes a celebration.

by Mithu Basu for Life Positive Magazine, December 2005

Wednesday 19 February 2014

Upload your SOLD works here.

Your ARTJUSTSOLD ! Make sure to upload here, it shows what’s selling hot in the art world. Dolna invites worldwide artists/galleries/ collectors/Auction Houses/Art Museums to post. No details of sale wanted just share what went into the painting or what made a buyer choose it.
Mithu Basu, Founder, Dolna salutes every art buyer. They are the true patrons of art.  This collation will be a useful resource to understand trends and study the growth of artists worldwide. Participate and make this group buoyant. Correct the market perception and show the world that art is a viable career option.

Tuesday 18 February 2014

Imagine for a minute, a world without art!

I woke up with this thought one day and realized how frightening that reality would be. Do you agree?  Art is central to our lives; we all know its importance and yet allow the pressures of our everyday life to push art into the periphery. Pablo Picasso said it right “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.”  In a population that crosses 1.27 billion, can we as a country even claim to have a mere 0.1% of that as recognized artists?  No! And that is truly a devastating truth.

“I believe we have to put art back at the centre of everyday life rather than allowing it to become a specialist activity at the margins of society.” Martin Firrell- Cultural Activist

Why am I advocating for the arts - visual arts to be more precise?
Music, dance and other performing arts have the support of the media; television, radio, youtube are doing  incredible yeoman service with their culture programs and uploads that showcase artistes and bring a million unknown faces to the forefront. The same cannot be said about visual artists. Dolna, is an effort like many more art initiatives, to steer the change and give the much needed impetus to art. It was appalling to discover that over eighty three art students in every hundred abandon pursuing art as a career for more stable livelihoods. Today art is more on the fringe, an elitist indulgence and like wine, still not quite understood by many.  
“Logic and reasoning can be used to analyze the results of imagination, but they cannot inspire it.”

Our education system values logic and math and sidelines imagination. Corporates who have the resources need to patronize the arts much more and see its intangible yet positive linkage to bottom line. Families must lay the foundation for discovering creativity alongwith chasing numbers. It is time we correct the disorders. I am sure many will join me in my passion to see art flourish and artists play an integral role in the development of our society. Like the Air Asia tagline that says ‘now everyone can fly’ I want India to work towards saying ‘now everyone can paint or appreciate paintings.’ We were a land of milk and honey and art and culture was at its thriving best, history has frozen that truth. We can learn from the past and enrich our future if we are willing to engage with art now.

“Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.” Pablo Picasso

In a world that has yet to feed, clothe or educate millions, asking to develop art may seem an indulgence and yet we know as an individual, community or country we are compromising on the quality of life if we neglect art. At Dolna we have overcome this obstacle by addressing social issues of concern through the medium of art. Our partner movement creates art platforms where artists get the required opportunities and exposure and social causes the much needed support. 

“The arts must be at the heart of every child’s learning experience if… they are to have a chance to dream and to create, to have beliefs, to carry a sense of cultural identity.” James D. Wolfensohn, former chairman of The Kennedy Center

Spreading the Joy of Art
You may be wondering why all of these things are so important to our daily lives and that you could probably survive just fine in a non-artistic world. That is just the reason why art is so valuable! While art may not be vital to fulfill our basic needs, it does make life joyful. The right selection of art by theme, colour, style or sometimes even size can be so powerful in creating the right ambience and feel of a space. Home, work, gym, public spaces and places could do wonders with appropriate art. Art can motivate, inspire, impact your emotions like the ragas do it for music and create a sense of joy and wellbeing.

Art is the intangible impetus to bottom lines in business, culture and refinement in homes, harmony and peace in communities, the distinguishing heritage of countries and the ingredient that makes an individual a wholesome being.

Article written by
Mithu Basu - Curator & Founder
For Cover Drive, MCA Magazine September 2013 (Unedited Version) 
All pictures courtesy
Reference links:

Monday 17 February 2014

Happy Fishes

This painting captures memories of the happy fishes coming towards us
while we were sea bed walking in Mauritius.
(36" x 36" Acrylic on canvas)

Friday 14 February 2014

When art speaks to you, you become an art lover

As appeared in MCA Cover Drive Magazine Vol 12- July 2012:
Art is an emotional expression of an artist. We laugh, cry, feel anger and experience a multitude of emotions all through life. For an artist these same emotions freeze into a work of art through the many mediums at an artists disposal. Art is therefore very subjective and has no predetermined parameters of evaluation. The magic of art is when a viewer feels the emotional connect with the creation. Art then touches a chord and speaks to him. Through this experience is born an art lover.
Love begins with the emotional connect and starts your affair with art. Art could be in any form; visual, installation, video, sculpture. Many styles; figurative, abstract or from eras that give us the isms; impressionism, expressionism and many more. But don’t let that clutter you or deter you. That is all the grammar and structure of understanding art. For now indulge yourself. Play a game of looking at a lot of art via the net or by visiting art galleries, observe the ones that speak with you. After a period of time ask yourself why? Is it the colours, the strokes, the subject, the style? Is there any commonality between all the works of art that you happen to like? What are the common factors if any.

If you are enjoying this explorative journey until here, sheer passion will want you to know more. From here on the study begins. Today one is very fortunate to have the web at ones disposal. Ask any question to Google and you will find your answer. Begin by brief studies into the history and evolution of art. Drool over the works of the great masters. Study art from the perspective of the artist; When, where, how and why did he create the chosen subject. What were the symbols of that era, most of them hold good even today. A cross can represent suffering; The sun can express heat and life; A river is often a symbol of change and the color red gives the feeling of anger or passion. Having said that, all objects or colors that appear in a painting or drawing are not necessarily symbols. Read about his life and times, his story, his circumstances and you will see that great art, mirrors the times and yet is timeless. It captures emotions and emotions universal.
You are now ready to explore the grammar of paintings, again the web will come to your rescue. By now you know how to look at art and talk about art. At this point you may decide to halt. That is fine. The in-depth walk through into understanding art can be kept for another time.
Make art appreciation a part of your everyday life
Don't feel intimidated to talk about art. Share how you feel, because your opinion is a valuable one. Remember, the more you look, the more you will see. Discuss different works of art with likeminded family and friends. Join the elitist club of art lovers, have fun and remember that talking about art can be cultivated and developed. Go ahead and acquire the skill.
Article written by
Mithu Basu
Curator & Founder
All pictures courtesy
Reference links:
Click here to see the Cover Drive Magazine -

Thursday 13 February 2014

Great news for the Indian art fraternity.

Tate to work with Indian culture ministry on art initiatives

India’s Ministry of Culture and the United Kingdom’s Tate Museum signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on 6 February 2014 to collaborate on projects and initiatives related to the modern and contemporary art of both countries.

Tate Modern: Turbine Hall. Photo by Tate Photography.
The signing of the agreement signifies a mutual interest by India and the United Kingdom to develop institutional and artistic collaborations. The project will involve exhibitions, research, fellowships, collection care, educational programmes and loans. The agreement was signed in New Delhi by Shri Pramod Jain, Joint Secretary of theMinistry of Culture, Government of India, and Tate’s Head of International Partnerships Judith Nesbitt.
In the press release, Tate Director Sir Nicholas Serota said:
This timely agreement will support the reciprocal exchange of ideas and knowledge in the field of modern and contemporary art in India and the UK, allowing deeper engagement with art for audiences in both nations.
A series of collaborations
This agreement is the latest in a series of collaborations between India and the Tate. In 2007, India’s Ministry of Culture and the National Gallery of Modern Art worked with Munich’s Haus der Kunst and London’s Tate Modern on an exhibition of Amrita Sher-Gil’s work that was subsequently shown in Munich and London.
Tate Modern has also been collaborating with Khoj International Artists’ Association on an exhibition titled “Project Space: Word. Sound. Power.” Project Space at Tate Modern began in 2011 and is a curatorial exchange programme that aims to collaborate with cultural organisations across the world to feature contemporary art. The programme brings together emerging and young curators from Tate and international institutions to curate an exhibition to be shown in both locations. “Word. Sound. Power.” was exhibited in London in 2013 and in New Delhi in early 2014.
Additionally, Tate and the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) have worked in partnership to exchange expertise on heritage and collection care.

Amar Kanwar, still from ‘A Night of Prophecy’, 2002, part of the exhibition “Word. Sound. Power.” Image courtesy the artist and Marian Goodman Gallery, New York.
Forthcoming projects
From 6 June to 5 October 2014, Tate Liverpool will present an exhibition featuring the work of Nasreen Mohamedi (1937-1990), who was born in Karachi, Pakistan, and raised in Mumbai, India. The exhibition will be comprised of works brought to the UK from private and public collections across India, and is the largest solo show of her work in the UK to date.
India’s international collaborations
The Secretary of India’s Ministry of Culture, Shri Ravindra Singh said that the agreement with Tate,
is a part of a series of international collaborations undertaken by the Ministry of Culture, which would strengthen the Museum sector in the country and lead to a cross pollination of ideas.
In December 2013, India signed an agreement for a three-year cultural exchange with Venezuela, which includes exchanges and institutional links in the fields of visual art and film.
In October 2013, the National Gallery of Modern Art in Delhi hosted an exhibition of Hungarian contemporary art, showcasing 40 artists from Hungary and exploring diverse themes in art and architecture.
Earlier in 2013, the Indian Ministry of Culture also signed a similar Memorandum of Understanding with New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Kriti Bajaj
Information Courtesy:

Make this Valentine unique, gift flowers that linger on...

Happiness - Prerna Kewalramani
Hollihock-56 - Swati Kale
Red Bloom - Ananya Banerjee
 Blossoms on a ledge - Mithu Basu
For wider choice visit the Dolna Gallery

Wednesday 12 February 2014

The cutting chai Hussain Saab and I never had.

If you have seen him once you can never forget him. The car before me pulled to an unexpected halt and a man literally hopped out, long flowing kurta, bare feet, grey haired and like a child jumped in the air to catch a bough of flaming Gulmohar in full bloom. Two try’s later he touched the sight that had bewitched him to stop and just as abruptly he got into the car and whisked off leaving me with an indelible memory of an irrepressible ‘manchild’, M.F.Hussain.

His humble beginnings, Souza’s destined walk under the ladder and India’s greatest find, the Progessive Artist’s group and his pivotal role, his horse, his muse, his larger than life persona, his iconic lifestyle, his multi dimensional interests. His hues are many and there will be a global rush for art historians to chronicle his life and times. Many who have known him will pen their interactions and tributes.  As you read you will find that mine is more thoughts that I feel could have crossed his mind in his last lingering moments. Continuing from where I left…
Many years passed between and I saw him on many occasions, at parties and exhibitions. The energy his presence exuded was always infectious. It was as if life was challenging him to be a grown up while all he wanted was to be a child, an adorable naughty child. On all occasions his vibrance was just like the Gulmohar in full bloom.

Seeing my love for tea his daughter Aqueela once said ‘you share this passion with my dad’ ever since a ‘cutting chai’ meeting was on the cards.  Our paths were not to cross but I can hear the conversation we never had.
I look around and see the purity of white around him, clean air, sprawling spaces and I say London looks like a beautiful place for your health and creativity. His eyes have that faraway look oblivious of his surrounding or my presence as if speaking to himself. Space is not geography, it lies in the heart and India has shut that door of my space. I have to smile and show gratitude to London but how do I silence the weeping within?

I feel like the child you saw in ‘Taare Zameen Pe’ standing in the corridor, punished, humiliated and yet entertaining himself in the corridor that has become his classroom. I see myself in him ‘Dard hota hai dil mein, kaise kahun, kise kahun’ (There is pain in my heart how do I say it? Who do I say it to?)
Indians love me they come here and spend so much time laughing, sharing, talking. But India has spurned me like a step child. The country is the largest  secular democracy in the world however I have been marginalized. When idol makers sculpt the gods at one stage they all stand nude, photographs are taken, what is wrong.  From time immemorial an artist is trained to see the purity of form in the nakedness of things. Seeing nudity in the nude lies in the eyes of that beholder and I have been punished.

Here I am not homeless ‘beghar nahi hoo’ “he who has lost his mother when he is a child never knows what to call home”. I do not know when and how India became my mother, my home. This time when my mother died I was not a child anymore. The sadness is that she is alive for others but has turned her back on me. How can I come to terms with this reality?

I know I have been gifted with some magic in my fingers and the world loves it. The body that holds these fingers are getting tired waiting, wanting. Soon it will leave me. When I see that day, I laugh and cry together. Laugh, for India will suffer amnesia and do a passionate ‘Tandav’ dance of pampering on my grave and immortalize me calling me India’s Picasso maybe. They will want to carry this cold lifeless being that I will become for a respectful Indian burial and I will cry just one more time for my Mumbai Falooda that I never got to have.
The cutting Chai had gone cold it still remains un drunk, maybe another time another life.

Written By Mithu Basu
Curator and Founder - Dolna

Image courtesy - Arindam Sarmah

Monday 10 February 2014

Mithu Basu speaks her mind - 'Plunging from a great job gave me the shivers' !

Mithu Basu,,

What exactly do you do?
Create global platforms to promote Indian art and artists

Why do you do what you do? Is it to make money, to become famous, to retire, to kill boredom, WHAT?
The overwhelming driver is passion and the intent to make art a viable career path for the many gifted yet unknown artists.

Is there anything unique in what you do? And here ‘unique' can mean anything - doing what’s been done for donkeys years and yet in a more cost efficient manner, or something new in a boring business or line or simply inventing something completely new?
We take art beyond conventional platforms and probe new applications for art and artists.

What happens if this fails?
The journey is my destination every moment offers a new experience a new learning. It’s a win win all the way with nothing to loose.

Any one or two incidents that make you shiver or feel proud of your journey so far?
The plunge from the comfort zone of a great job into the unknown territory of an idea and a dream did send shivers. Pride was when the concept became a reality and artists benefitted from the Dolna initiative. Nothing in the world can equal that fulfilment.

State one really bad habit and one good habit (if you actually have one)
You could term my tendency to blurt out ideas before its time as something that needs immediate correction.
I feel good that I have developed the habit of acknowledging and giving credit whenever it is due.
Famous last words to the readers ( if you knew you are going to be hit by a truck tomorrow, what would you like to tell the world (other than to be crossing the road safely)?
If you have a dream YOU CAN make it happen.

Finally, say YES below the next para:
I solemnly put my hand on my religious book/favorite novel and swear that what I have said above (including my photos) is the truth. So help me, Rodinhood