{Of all lies, art is the least untrue - Flaubert}

Thursday, October 21, 2004


I went to lots of places in Hyderabad this month. It included Salarjung Museum where I saw some of most beautiful pieces of art.

I was interested in calligraphy in my teens and just thought good handwriting is calligraphy, later I learnt that its much more than that and tried some styles (in devnagari) but was not able to gather much interest. It resurfaced that day when I saw some of the excellent Persian, Urdu and Arabic Calligraphy work at Salarjung. I was not able to read anything but those handwritten manuscripts are real work of art. Then there were one of my favorite forms of art, miniature paintings, in Mughal, Rajasthani, Pahari and Deccani styles. Also, there were very delicate works on wood, ivory and jades. But something that mesmerized me was a sculpture by Italian sculptor G.H Benzoni, named 'Veiled Rebecca'. It was truly remarkable sculpture with Rebecca's marvelous face clearly visible through a flimsy/translucent marble veil. Even after seeing her 2-3 times it looked that milk is poured on her and it has frozen and it is not marble. What a beauty...

I have recently seen (about two months ago) a film by French Director Nicolas Philibert named Louvre City (La Ville Louvre). It showed people hanging paintings, reorganizing rooms, and moving work around at Louvre Gallery in Paris, its more like a documentary. Little by little characters (workers at Louvre) appear and weave together the thread of a narrative. From studios to stacks and reserves containing thousands of picture, sculptures, works of art... this is the discovery of a city with a city. I remember an interesting discussion between two of the workers about a sculpture that whether it is by Michelangelo or someone else as the identity tag was missing, they were discussing about its beard style to figure it out. There were scenes how every thing was put perfectly on walls like a mural. Its showed how biggest of the paintings and the smallest of the artifacts are taken care of. It has a 10 min uncut scene (movie time is about 80-90 min) of how a broken pot (of the size of an small apple) is treated, marked, bought from basement labs to the top floor through a labyrinth of stairs and lifts very carefully. The broken pot was wrapped in a white cloth like a small delicate creature and was placed on the top floor with thousands of its counterparts.

I am not drawing any comparison between Salarjung and Louvre. Louvre is much bigger in content and space, and boosts to be house of paintings like 'Monalisa' and 'The Last Supper', but the love for art and preserving it is the same.

One more thing, I got the hindi (actually Sanskrit) word for 'Gallery' there (I was not knowing it before), and hence the title of this blog.

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