THINGS. LOVE. POLLUTION – MUSIC VIDEO

A never ending cycle | Tu Cheez Badi Hai Mast Mast | A literal twist!

A literal spin given to a popular Hindi song from the 90’s – Tu cheez badi hain mast mast (a.k.a You are a wonderful THING).

Every man-made THING in the world stems out of desire and the need for convenience. What would humans do? if not making THINGS over and over again in a better shape, better size, better color, better taste……..better whatnot.

Our mechanical lives depend on chemical laboratories and there is no escape from this infinite conveyor loop! It is a strange vicious pursuit!


Dancers: Angana Mukherjee, Pushyank Nahar

Concept & Direction: Praveen Whitefield

Truth or Trash – Short Film

Manipulation strategies are not limited to consumerism, but infect every aspect of our lives. They mold our personal values, shape our perceptions, and undermine our thinking. Everything we see, eat, feel, hear, watch, do etc., has been carefully branded, packaged, and commercialized by titans to achieve their own financial, social, and political ends. A small coterie of human behemoths control large networks of people by controlling the message and coercion. There are Belief systems that are shoved onto us right from the day we are born and our brains cling to these Beliefs in order to protect us from truths that threaten our sense of security. These are inconvenient truths many of us would prefer to ignore!


Concept based on: “Eight O’Clock in the Morning” by Ray Nelson

Screenplay Adaptation: “They Live” by John Carpenter

Cast: Satvik Mahajan

Cinematography: Vishwas Avathi

Editor, Producer, Director : Praveen Whitefield


Official Selection: 7th Noida International Film Festival 2020

Official Selection: The Lift-Off Sessions, Lift-Off Global Network, Pinewood Studios

Love* Conditions Apply – Short Film

Watch my very first short film on YouTube.

Life = Convenience

Humans = Material Things

Relationships = Transaction

Unconditionality = Does not exist

Every normal human seeks something from the other and it is based on needs, wants and desires. The give and take is given the name of Love which the protagonist in the film doesn’t approve and thinks of the world as hypocritical. The film revolves around 3 characters – Ichha, Manav and Trisha. All of them seek something from the other and the world in terms of success, fame, intimacy, love etc., Ichha represents an independent, conscious and rebellious self-defying all norms of the world, while Manav is a regular conformist man with his romanticized, populist thoughts and desires. Trisha is happy-go-lucky being the dependent and docile one.


Director: Praveen Whitefield (on-screen name)

Music / Sound: Deepak Ananth

Editor: Vishwas Avathi

Cinematographer: Vishwas Avathi

Actors: Latha Srinivasa, Varun Kumar, Vidhya Chakravarthy


Awards & Laurels:

Best Debut Filmmaker Award at L’Age d’Or International Arthouse Film Festival (LIAFF)

Best Debut Filmmaker Award at Virgin Spring Fest, 2020

Official Selection: Chitra Bharati Film Festival, 2020

Why I can’t be a rich and famous artist!

paintings

Right from my art school days, I always wanted to be a famous painter making tons of money, listed in famous galleries, adulation from the connoisseurs (specially the opposite sex:)), lots of patrons and to be in the news for the general masses. Basically flamboyance. Who wouldn’t want that? be it any profession, isn’t it?

Reality: I ended up in a regular job as a Graphic Designer and eventually turned myself into a trained User Experience Designer/Product Designer for software applications! I have been doing that for almost 15+ years now.

While at the job, I still tried painting, hosted a few exhibitions here and there, invested good amount of money to be part of shows etc., The fuel for all of this splurge was supplied from my job (obvious) with no foreseeable monetary returns except for few appreciations from close friends, colleagues and relatives since they got excited by a few good looking pictures on the internet, mentions in the papers:)

newspaper-cutting

If I were to be consistent, then the following had to be taken care of:

  • The fuel tank was supposed to be kept filled for many years to come
  • Continue the regular job efficiently, deal with stressful daily grind and pay all the bills, monthly loan installments etc., (to lead a perceivable decent lifestyle)
  • Persistent efforts to keep the creative juices flowing and make new series of works
  • Do happy, nature, spiritual or abstract neutral paintings (This was the most important. My paintings are serious, dark and grim in terms of the subject matter. It doesn’t sit well in happy living rooms, bedroom walls or hotel/corporate lounges and lobbies. Nobody wants to own or buy my work and the market is filled with happy, neutral pictures)
  • Logistical nightmare of maintaining the paintings (I had no studio except for a bedroom that was part of rented house. I kept moving too)
  • Travelling, packing paintings to different locations and galleries by road, air, rail etc., (The most heart breaking when they return damaged)
  • Promoting myself and my works consistently on the internet (almost every day)
  • Get good with socializing, appeasing, ass licking, bragging etc., (I never could and can)
  • Support from fellow artists, senior artists or the reputed ones (Nothing at all. At least a like on Facebook, a heart on Instagram or even comment “this is crap” would help)
  • Deal with ubiquitous fake curators, organizers and gallerias (This is the most sad part and the state sponsored ones are the worst)
  • Deal with home front and personal life challenges (Who doesn’t!)

Varaha Earth Movers
Who would want a pig/boar morphed into an earth digger in their living room?

 

socio-economic_love2apng
Nobody wants to own anything on materialism or consumerism

 

Brass tacks, if you are an independent artist without any patronizer, a promoter, a curator, no influential affluent acquaintances or a gallery/corporate backing you up, you are doomed. Basically you are fucked and you will end up thinking “Why am I even doing this?” I was going in and out of the shows handling the logistics myself something like this:

For many, I might sound like a loser. Being a successful artist means being able to sell your work. If the work is “sale-able” , you are automatically promoted and everything else will follow. You will slowly be introduced into a secret lobby of buyers, art investors and patrons. Then you will be categorized into various levels into different markets. I could never get into any of those circles and unfortunately I didn’t fit into any. (If fortune means money).

Conclusively, I couldn’t, cannot be a rich and famous artist! However, I remain an artist at heart. Nobody can take that away.


The current phase:

  • I will paint for myself whenever I want to and when I feel like
  • I neither want to showcase, exhibit or promote nor do I want to sell
  • I will put it on my Instagram and happy with whatever I get
  • I don’t give a fuck for comments or likes from fellow artists or senior artists. Non-artist friends are much more genuine and nicer.
  • I lead a decent lifestyle thanks to my job as a Designer. Respect!
  • I am looking at different mediums like digital audio visual films and level playing open platforms like YouTube, Vimeo etc.,
  • Yes, I am into film making now and in a happy space (More on this later)

Watch my short films on YouTube

Truth or Trash – A 5 minute Short Film

Obsessed

I am part of an urban culture that is obsessed with multiplex, mall-going, shopping brands, lifestyle products, flaunts and talks about his/her lifestyle in online/offline social circles (mostly online). This disposable economic power or purchasing power comes from long hours of illogical working (that is perceived to be hard work) and gets rewards of self gratifying, ego-boosting products for a complete/fulfilling life at home or otherwise. In short, we produce at work and consume at home.

Consumerism has emerged as the ‘uber cool’ religion that is established itself at supersonic speed across the world and overthrows all others by objectifying human emotions, instantly gratifying with small fleeting ‘nirvana-like’ pleasures, and that teaches us to solely pursue economic goals at the expense of environmental, social, or ethical concerns and keeping us ‘Obsessed’. Unreasonably we are in super hurry with all zeal, energies and unwavering devotion to collect and possess as many things/products as we can in the shortest possible time and are ready to fight with our own psyche and defy conventional value systems in the pursuits.

As Wikipedia says – To those who embrace the idea of consumerism, these products are not seen as valuable in themselves, but rather as social signals that allow them to identify like-minded people through consumption and display of similar products. Few would yet go so far, though, as to admit that their relationships with a product or brand name could be substitutes for healthy human relationships that sometimes lack in a dysfunctional modern society.

I am not sure whether this consumerist culture that we see today is a development or a symptom. There may be debates that these are the signs of growing economy, expansion, advancement and shows the prosperity of a city or a nation. The cost for this according to me is human ethics, value systems, relationships and in my series of paintings, I have tried to mirror what I see and feel around.

Things

I am a keen observer of the current time and space which we live in and this series of paintings ‘Things’ are reactions to the observations, our relationships with man-made Things/Products/Brands. Our needs become ‘Things’ which in turn become desirables that forms the basis of the ecosystem of our living and behaviors.  All our intellectual, emotional, physical desires arise for the ‘Things’ that we create, consume and aspire to create more.

We have created a vicious circle and it is amazing to see our own behaviors arising out of this cycle. A consumer culture cannot survive simply on what people need. Instead, the market has to artificially create needs, and the creation of dissatisfaction. Companies are investing billions of dollars into creating desire for some new ‘Thing’ while also convincing what someone just bought is no longer valuable. This is an amusing interplay of human emotions and insatiable objects of desire.

‘Things’ become desires. Desires are multiple, infinite, abstract, repetitive and very much engraved in our social fabric. We aspire to have relationships with people who use certain desirable ‘Things’ or have more respect, adulation, admiration for them or wish to be one of them. ‘Things’ alias desires become conversation starters, gratification creators, intangible ways of feeling happy about ourselves.

This series of paintings is my attempt to express various layers of these thoughts, observations outlined above and in the process I realize that I have created more ‘Things’ !!

Manavatar – Man, Material and Spirit

These thoughts have been running through my mind for quite few years, from the days when I was involved in the rehearsals of a Bharatnatyam dance ballet Dashavatara which depict 10 popular avatars/descent of Lord Vishnu in Hindu mythology. Lord Vishnu who is said to be the preserver of the universe , seeks from time to time to redeem the world and as an avatar (incarnation) manifests his divine being into the life of man or a living being, whenever evil threatens it.

There are 1000s of views, representations or interpretations of the Dashavatar episode done by various traditionalists, modernists, filmmakers, writers, artists, groups, communities etc., I have thought of them in my own ways, with whatever modest knowledge I have heard and seen in televised visuals, calendar pictures etc., My granny explains these stories as if she has lived through the times and seen the episodes live. These are my reactions to what I see in everyday life and the mind divided over contradictions.

Dashavatara is the all-encompassing epic in Hindu mythology that celebrates the recurring triumph of good over evil – tenfold. The trade-off situations we are in, I find it difficult to recognise what is good and what is evil. Man is on both sides and he administers the proceedings multi-fold. The power and pursuit of man is such that it is easy to have a sense of disbelief in these super power characters or any gods. Nothing can stop man and he will stop at nothing.

I am neither agnostic nor religious or conventional. I have used the characterizations from the Dashavatar epic and in my thoughts; there is no place for the spirit called God. Everything is man – his life, material, equipments, products, relationships, ideas, desires, contradictions with himself and the spirit or character of Lord Vishnu’s avatar.

I would like to call my series of paintings as Manavatar (Avatars of Man). I see man as a self-appointed God or supreme power dictating the complete trial of the world. It is a cliché and yet surprising to observe how we behave and what we keep looking for. The most important thing that can make us humans happy is the sense of achievement! And we want to continue achieving something or the other. So I am and my works.

More paintings – Work in Progress……..

Manavatar

This is an online exhibition of my drawings. I plan to execute these drawings into large canvases someday whenever time and space permits. May be thoughts would evolve by then and something new could happen.

These thoughts have been running through my mind for quite few years, from the days when I was involved in the rehearsals of a Bharatnatyam dance ballet Dashavatara which depict 10 popular avatars/descent of Lord Vishnu in Hindu mythology. Lord Vishnu who is said to be the preserver of the universe , seeks from time to time to redeem the world and as an avatar (incarnation) manifests his divine being into the life of man or a living being, whenever evil threatens it.

There are 1000s of views, representations or interpretations of the Dashavatar episode done by various traditionalists, modernists, filmmakers, writers, artists, groups, communities etc., I have thought of them in my own ways, with whatever modest knowledge I have heard and seen in televised visuals, calendar pictures etc., My granny explains these stories as if she has lived through the times and seen the episodes live. These are my reactions to what I see in everyday life and the mind divided over contradictions.

Dashavatar is the all-encompassing epic in Hindu mythology that celebrates the recurring triumph of good over evil – tenfold. The trade-off situations we are in, I find it difficult to recognize what is good and what is evil. Man is on both sides and he administers the proceedings multi-fold. The power and pursuit of man is such that it is easy to have a sense of disbelief in these super power characters or any gods. Nothing can stop man and he will stop at nothing.

I am neither agnostic nor religious or conventional. I have used the characterizations from the Dashavatar epic and in my thoughts; there is no place for the spirit called God. Everything is man – his life, material, equipments, products, relationships, ideas, desires, contradictions with himself and the spirit or character of Lord Vishnu’s avatar.

I would like to call my series of drawings as Manavatar (Avatars of Man). I see man as a self-appointed God or supreme power dictating the complete trial of the world. It is a cliché and yet surprising to observe how we behave and what we keep looking for. The most important thing that can make us humans happy is the sense of achievement! And we want to continue achieving something or the other. So I am and my works.

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Narasimha Concrete Mixers
Title: Narasimha Concrete Mixers, Pencil on paper.

Lord Vishnu emerged as Narasimha (half lion-half human) from a pillar of the palace to save his ardent devotee and killed the demon king. Narsimha is the embodiment of valour. In my version, the simha(lion) merely becomes a designed utility of a concrete mixer which is helplessly on the other side of making a concrete pillar.

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Title: Varaha Earth Movers, Pencil on paper

A demon had taken the earth and carried it to the bottom of the cosmic ocean, the Lord appeared as a wild boar, killed the demon and lifted the earth out of the flood waters in which it had been submerged. He lifted the Earth between his tusks and restored it to its place in the universe as a symbolic representation of the resurrection of the world from the deluge of sin. We see a different kind of picture in the nook and corners of our homes. A boar/pig like creature with an insatiable hunger to eat the earth from both the ends and smartly creating cultivated/civilized areas for us to live.

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ambrosia stay young forvere
Title: Tortoise Brand Ambrosia(Amruth) - Stay young forever! Pencil on paper

Lord Vishnu incarnated himself as the Kurma (the tortoise) in order to support the mount Mandara, which started sinking during the churning of the ocean. Thus, the Kurma sat on the bottom of the ocean with a mountain, being placed on his back by the other gods so that the gods & demons could churn the sea and find Amrit – the nectar of life and immortality.  Vishnu also appears as Mohini the female fatale, an enchantress, who acquires the pot of Amrit from thieving Asuras (demons) by trick, and gives it back to the Devas (demi-gods), helping them retain their immortality.

Mohini still remains an enchantress who sells all kinds of so called immortal,colossal, attractive products to us and helps us maintain a consumerist state of mind throughout.  The insatiable word “More” bears the brunt of  mountainous desires and keeps the products life cycles alive.

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ram kris tagged
Title: Ram and Kris are tagged, Pencil on paper

Rama and Krishna avatars are well-known to many as in the epics Ramayana and Mahabharata respectively.  Both the characters are the center of all human relationships in the epics. The purpose was to ensure that justice and peace (dharma) ruled when there aroused family disputes, ego clashes, wars, gluttony etc., I am part of a similar world that is more individualistic but casual in interrelationships for a change. An ironical situation in which we are in – we are neither connected nor left alone.

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fishy kiddos
Title: Fishi kiddos play school, Pencil on paper

As Matsya the fish, saviour of srishti or creation, Lord Vishnu saved the four Vedas(books of knowledge) from destruction by flood. Quality education was dictated and savored by the mighty Brahmins and Kshatriyas in the older world . Even now, we see a similarity with the capitalist classes (the affluent) only having access to qualified training and accepted streams of knowledge.  A priced commodity as it has evolved to become, knowledge or education is a mere means to make more commodities.

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The Dwarf
Title: The Dwarf, pencil on paper

Lord Vishnu’s incarnation – as a dwarf was to show the people that they should live in their own places and should not be greedy to occupy the other lands. The dwarf man in my flex poster drawing doesn’t seem to be in his place, publicizes a larger than life figure of his and claims responsibility of  things that happens for the betterment. We all can recognize the dwarf man. He is within us as a narrow, corrupted  and dwarfed mind – who can be neither be got rid nor lived with.

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CD available
Title: CDs, DVDs available at all leading stores, Pencil on paper

Buddha is also considered one of the incarnations of  Lord Vishnu.  Today, every other person on the road, his uncle is an enlightened person and a self-appointed Buddha.  Of all the things in the world, I am confused whether this spiritual pollution renounces the world or embraces with all it’s riches/luxuries.  It is simple. Man makes and makes products. He needs a break and some peace. Hence he practices meditation, makes peace related stuff in his free time and returns to make more another things. You see, mediation gives you the power to do ”More”.

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auto tree feller
Title: Automated Axe, Pencil on paper

As Parashurama or Ram with axe, Vishnu annihilated the demons in their battle with the gods. The axe becomes the automated tree feller in my version and the human omnipresent in the barren lands.

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horse power
Title: The immovable Knight , Pencil on paper

The Kalki Avatar is the only avatar of Vishnu that is set in the future. It is believed that at the end of the present age (Kali Yug), there will be a deluge when Kalki – the tenth and the last avatar of Vishnu, will ride forth on a horse (half horse-half man) to redeem humankind and re-establish righteousness. The cynical mind ceases to believe. Such is the power of  man that the Knight(horse) cannot move in any direction despite being powerful and mighty. Everything would go as is and man will still keep achieving.

On the Dark side!

This work was inspired by the 18th century master painter Goya.  Goya’s The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters etching may show the artist himself, asleep, plagued by mythical monsters and other creatures of obscurity, possibly pecking at him to awaken and work. They might be symbols of his own pressures with commissions and the desire to be successful in life, and the reminder of what lies on the other side of ambition. Even if a person goes to sleep, their mind unveils emotions they may not even have known that they had, and morphs them into creatures sent to become pestilences. I used to dream weird  and I couldn’t disagree with these emotions, thoughts, did my own copy of it and titled “On the Dark side”

On the dark side

This is drawn/etched on an X-Ray film and printed B&W on paper.

“Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes (1746–1828) is regarded as the most important Spanish artist of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries” (Francisco de Goya ). He painted cartoons for royal palaces and etchings as well as paintings in the circles of royal patronage.