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\’Food dye as paint, hair as a brush\’: A lifer\’s escape into art; and, Gandhi in art through the ages


While we focus on Indian art, we can’t obviously function in a vacuum. It’s a small world and everything is connected, especially on the web. So, let’s train our spotlight across the world map to see what’s going on — from art trends to socio-political issues to everything that affects the great aesthetic global consciousness. Or, let’s just travel the world and have some fun!

A lifer’s escape in art


Prisoner Donny Johnson, sentenced to life in California in 1980 for a murder committed during an argument over drugs when he was a teenager, is now an artist in his 7×11 feet cell. His paintbrush is made from his own hair; his paints are coloured pigments from M&Ms; his canvas is the back of used greetings cards. Johnson has had a tragic, long and disturbed history from childhood, with multiple prison sentences. But in 2002, a New York psychotherapist and writer encouraged him to paint. “Digging where you delve in solitary confinement, into the unconscious, I found a pool of mythic images and painted them with my own DNA, i.e. a brush fashioned out of my own hair,” Johnson told an artist who contacted him — and his story is now being recounted as a film. The Guardian narrates the story.


Artists across generations have painted the Mahatma


One of the most photographed Indians of his time, Mahatma Gandhi has inspired numerous artists. In 1930, Bengali artist Nandlal Bose immortalised Gandhi in his linocut print of the leader walking with his stick during the Dandi March. The iconic SH Raza painted canvases in muted shades to celebrate Bapu’s teachings, while Riyas Komu put forth arguments from the present times while painting a fearless, idealistic Gandhi. Atul Dodiya has actually done over 200 paintings on Gandhi, while Gigi Scaria has juxtaposed Gandhi and Mao Zedong in his works. The Indian Express shares more details.


Calligraphy increases demand for Kashmiri silk carpets


The famed silk carpets of Kashmir now have an added draw — young artisans and designers have started using calligraphy on them to enhance their beauty, incorporating new design and techniques into the art of weaving and painting this upholstery. Interestingly, this has resulted in greater demand in markets, especially outside the country, and may also attract young talent to try their hand at such artistic efforts. Many believe that this is an upgrade that will not just help the art endure for more generations but also make it more lucrative and generate employment. WION reports.

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