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Horror vacui means fear of empty spaces or fear of the empty.

The term is usually used in art, for example Victorian or Arab Islamic art.  It is ornate and opulent but abundantly busy and cluttered!

 

The opposite of Horror vacui is minimalism, negative space, silence, emptiness and a vacuum.

The term has a strong psychological connotation for me.  Its origin is “fear.” Fear is usually considered a “negative” emotion, a phobia, a condition that needs remedy.

Is Horror vacui truly a phobia, in need of a remedy?  Let’s analyze and try to reach a deduction.

I interpret the term beyond the parameters of art.  It can be applied to fashion, architecture, interior designs and most interestingly to human behavior.  In fact, it is most intriguing when applied to humans as our emotions are a bundle of complexity worthy of a million interpretations.

We all have met people who speak incessantly. A ceaseless chatter, flitting from one mundane subject to another with nothing concrete to say.  They talk as if their life depended on it.  One has to be on a high-level of vigilance to grab an inhalation break in order to escape.  It is an example of Horror vacui in speech-fear of silence.

Or people who have a compulsive need to be surrounded by other people all the time.  Constant socializing, parties, get-togethers, vacations with friends, dinner with friends, coffee with friends, lunch with friends and the list goes on.  They may describe themselves as being extremely sociable, but doesn’t it reek of Horror vacui-fear of being alone?

An addiction in any form-alcohol, drugs, food, sex is Horror vacui.  An attempt to avoid facing the internal vacuum.

Fashion is a form of art and the principle of Horror vacui is relevantly applicable.  I was recently at a Roberto Cavalli store.  As I entered, I gasped and my jaw dropped.  I felt my visual perception being assaulted by prints, patterns, colors, lines, shades in every shape and form.  The minimalist in me felt suffocated and wanted to escape.  The only visual escape was the white ceiling, except it too was covered with ornate patterns.  An illustration of horror vacui in fashion.

What about women who imbibe the fashion mantra of more is more.  True, we all have our own fashion sensibilities and fashion is a form of expression.  So, who am I to sit in judgment.  But really do we need all that adornment?  Is it truly self-expression or is it confusion that is making a feeble attempt at expression?  The bracelets, the rings, the necklaces, the danglers, the French nails.  Help, I am horrified!  It is Horror vacui, fear of toned down or minimal fashion.

Interior design is a form of art as well.  I was recently told by an acquaintance that she wanted to buy a statue as there was only one corner in her house that was empty and needed to be filled.  We engulf our homes with objects d’art, furniture, tapestries, carpets, rugs, pillows, candles.  After sometime the aesthetic beauty becomes so diluted that it looks more like clutter.  It is Horror vacui, fear of empty spaces.

For centuries, artists have been painting and drawing detailed, ornate and intricate work.  The talent is evident, but an inordinate effort is made to cover every miniscule part of the canvas or the art medium.  Wouldn’t it create a better contrast if the medium had a vacuum or blank space?  Horror vacui again-fear of negative space.

So, to answer the question whether Horror vacui is a phobia in need of a remedy?  My answer is that in most instances yes.  It requires confidence to forego the fear of empty spaces whether related to emotions, fashion or art.  Emptiness is beautiful, courageous and non-conforming!

 

I have always been a big fan of filmmaker Pedro Almodovar.  His films are gritty, complex and thought provoking.  They are modern with elements of pop culture.

I love it when I can think of a movie days after seeing it in order to figure out the nuances, metaphors and similes.

I am not writing this blog to review the movie or provide my thoughts on the plot and screenplay.  There are plenty of reviews floating on the web, some I do not agree with at all.

The movie did appeal to my sensibilities.  As one reviewer said it will definitely hold the interest of the art house crowd as it has enough distortion, torture and kink!  I whole heartedly agree with the reviewer.  So, if your interest is piqued by the provocative, bizarre and wickedly deviant themes or you simply want to be part of the hip, eclectic, bohemian art house crowd, go see the movie!! (Ha,ha)  All I can say is I am still thinking about it!

What I want to share is the artistic element of metaphors and symbolisms in the film.  In that sense, even though the film maybe expletive on the surface, it is laced with delicate subtleties that are symbolic.  This makes it an intelligent film as it titillates and arouses the intellect of the viewer by compelling us to think, interpret and analyze it in a way we deem fit.

For starters, the skin colored suit worn by the main female character of the film symbolizes the skin on the bones.  The suit fits like a beautiful glove on the body and accentuates each curve and asset.  The suit is smooth and has a beautiful tone to it.  But, the skin suit can be taken off and put on at any time.  It is a disposal piece of spandex of no real value.  I interpret it as the skin merely being a cover for the bones; an outer layer that can easily be shed like a chameleon’s and grows back again.  We put a lot of importance on the outer skin, especially these days, but its value is simply of covering our entrails, the blood and the bones, that’s it.  What is important is the inside that cannot be shed or replaced.

In contrast another character places so much importance on the outer layer of skin that when she does not like the sight of herself in a mirror, she kills herself. (I am not giving out the plot as it is pretty much explained in the first frame of the movie.)  Her inside is valueless for her.

The home of the male character played by Antonio Banderas is a beautiful old chalet in Spain with stone walls and wooden floors.  It looks like an ancient structure from outside, but the inside is modern and sterile.  My interpretation is that appearances are often deceptive and not a true reflection of the soul of the person.

Another poignant scene is where Antonio Banderas is carefully binding and clipping a bonsai tree with a metal wire.  It is a critical moment in the film as it sums up the essence of the film of confinement, force and constraint.

Antonio Banderas’s character goes through the movie with a stoic demeanor and his actions have a surgical precision signifying the coldness in his heart.

And last but not the least; the female character is a yogini who practices body twisting yogic postures defying all rules of bodily resistance.  It is symbolic of human resilience.  After a passage of time humans are capable of adapting themselves in any circumstance without resistance, no matter how horrific the circumstance.

If you do watch the movie, don’t watch it skin deep; look for what’s beneath the skin.

Travel is the spice of life; it is crème fraiche on a basic sponge cake; it is the vibrant lipstick on a bare face, it is the statement necklace on a basic black dress, it is the bold stroke on a plain canvas.

We live our daily lives performing various duties, chores and activities.  Some we enjoy some we don’t.  In any event no matter how exciting our daily jobs and lifestyles are after some time, well they become “daily” or “routine.”  The familiarity even though comforting brings with it some vacuous boredom.

Travel jolts us from the quotidian routine and infuses the requisite amount of fervor and excitement to get back into the “routine” upon return.

Upon her return from a world tour, my friend told me that she could not find the food that she is accustomed to in her home country and hence from that aspect it was a little hard for her to travel.

It made me think, what is the point of traveling if you cannot immerse yourself in the culture, the traditions, the food, the style of that country and get a true feel of its soul.  When I travel I have a ritual, I visit the grocery store and the pharmacy of the new place.  It provides me an opportunity to get a true local feel of the country.  I also try to buy at least one small traditional clothing item and incorporate it with my daily wardrobe.  It enables me to take a nostalgic trip down memory lane when my life returns back to being “daily.”

When we travel, we all visit the famous sites recommended by Lonely Planet.  The key to travel is to diverge from the well-traveled “touristy” path at least once and get a true flavor of the country.

Travel is about exploration and getting out of your comfort element, stepping out of self-imposed parameters and crossing boundaries literally and metaphorically.

If you are in Istanbul, you will of course visit Hagia Sophia as you should, but also take the time to sit in the little cafes and drink umpteen cups of cay with shakkar (tea with sugar).  You truly get a feel of the old culture watching the men play board games.

If in China, eat the dumplings from the enormous steamed bamboo baskets.

If going to Italy, do buy at least one sartorial outfit from Via Condotti (no matter how small) to be a part of the most stylish culture in the world.

In Mongolia throw caution to the strong Gobi desert winds, ride a yak and later drink its warm milk!  No need to crinkle your nose, it is delicious!!

So, pause your hectic itinerary for a few minutes, take a long breath, inhale and envelope yourself in the essence of the country you visit.  You will get more out of it than visiting every miniscule “must see” site written in the travel book.

Perfection is not instantaneous, not exigent and not speedy.  It is a laborious, tiresome and toilsome journey.

Perfection can be achieved in any field by giving it enough time, patience, perseverance and that “one more thing” as per Steve Jobs that is always required even when you think you are almost there.

Steve Jobs recent demise made me think of how everything that is perfect or even comes close to perfection takes time or that “one more thing.”  There seem to be no short-cuts to perfection and no quick schemes.  Interestingly, it does not matter what you are trying to perfect.  It can be a small thing such as whipping up a perfectly risen delicate soufflé or a colossal and complex project such as inventing and designing the revolutionary Apple gadgets.  It all takes time and massive effort.  The question is what mettle are we made of?  Strong enough to withstand failures and defeats, with only a steel drive propelling us to move forwards towards perfection.  Or do we want to chuck the whole thing after a few tries as it is “just too hard.”

As a confession, in most instances I probably will take the easier or the latter path, only to be burdened later with a heavy sense of regret for having forsaken the sweet taste of perfection and my goal.  Hopefully, writing this blog will be a cathartic experience and will steer me to strive towards perfection in achieving my goals in life, no matter how big or small they are.

Steve Jobs is an example of perfection.  He was a drop-out from college, co-founded Apple Computer only to be ousted nine years later from the extremely lucrative company he founded.  It was not a deterrent for him, but an opportunity to further hone his craft.  He came back with marvels such as the iPod, iTunes, iPhone and iPad creating a revolution not only in technology, but a cultural revolution that changed the way people listened to music, read books and used computers forever.

His designs are not only highly efficient but an example of style and elegance.  He enabled the world to discard the clunky obsolete gadgets and replace them with minimalistic, highly efficient, utterly cool gadgets.

He can be analogized with pioneers such as Edison or the Wright Brothers.  He was a visionary who with his intelligence, years of toil and hard-work, built a company that consumers cannot get enough bites of.

Hermes is another company that takes extreme pride in perfecting its craft.  It is a rare company in this day and age of mass produced, assembly line, sole focus on “filling-the-quota” kind of products.

Yes, you do pay a premium for Hermes products, but perfection should not come cheap.

Thierry Hermes started the company 74 years ago with a vision.  He brought his vision to fruition by using unsurpassed quality materials, attention to detail and hard work, lots of hard work.  The Hermes bags are a superlative example of quality.  Each Hermes bag is cut by hand, piece by piece with individually inspected materials.  Each artisan works only on three to four bags at a time.  They are made-to-order in the true sense of the word.  Each bag is made by hand, inside and out!

Even the saddle stitch used by the artisans has been in use since the 19th century.  In fact, nothing much has changed in the technique of the design and manufacturing since the inception of the company.

Along with quality, Hermes has been a visionary in marketing and branding.  When celebrity endorsements were unheard of and a rarity, Hermes introduced the Kelly and the Birkin bags, an homage to Princess Grace Kelly of Monaco and the uber stylish Jane Birkin (trivia, she is the mother of Charlotte Gainsbourg.)  The bags have acquired iconic status and cultural eminence.


What about a perfectly scrumptious, delicate, fluffy soufflé?  It is not a dessert that you can order “off a menu” and expect it to be delivered instantaneously.  No, it takes time and patience to make it.  It has to be coddled, delicately whipped and baked for at least a good 45 minutes for it to rise to a cloud of warm, sweet perfection.  You have to order the dessert even before you order the appetizer in order to enjoy it.  It takes time to make a perfect soufflé!

So, to conclude and a note to myself-Keep working towards perfection.  It takes time to perfect perfection, assuming that there is a Utopian point of perfecting perfection.

I am from India.  Hence, befalls upon me the duty to blog at least once about the industry that is the beating heart, deep soul and the throbbing pulse of India-The Indian Film Industry aka BOLLYWOOD.

 

 

Indian film industry is based in Bombay (now known as Mumbai).  It is fondly known as Bollywood, possible name origination from Hollywood.  It is massively influential not only in the home country but has a growing popularity internationally as well.  With India being on the global map, Indian cinema’s popularity has exponentially increased.

Bollywood churns out twice as many movies as Hollywood in a span of one year.  With movies such as Slumdog Millionaire and exports like Freida Pinto, an increasing number of Western audience are becoming familiar with not only the colorful song and dance routine that is so integral to Bollywood movies, but thanks to the portrayal of slums, the debilitating poverty in India as well.

For the purposes of this blog and because I am an insider, I will introduce you to a quintessential theme in Indian cinema that is patently latent for the foreign eye, yet prevalent in most Indian movies.  It is also a little insight into the pre-disposition of the Indian brain, especially the male brain.

It is the Madonna-Whore theme on celluloid.

Women are an integral part of Indian cinema.  In most Indian films women are portrayed in two ways.  Either they are shown as a pious, sacrificing, maternal figure or Madonna.  Or they are depicted as the wanton, sexy, lustful, glamour doll or whore.


The sacrificing maternal figure may as well be called a sacrificial lamb.  The adversities of her life are higher than Mount Everest and insurmountable; not even Edmund Hillary in flesh and blood could peak the heights of such misery.

The hardships start at a young age when she is coerced into marriage against her will to a much older man and from there on the misery chapter of her life starts.  The script usually goes like this-she gets pregnant after marriage; one of her kids is born without a limb and is handicapped; the burden of taking care of this child falls entirely upon her slim shoulders; the husband is an alcoholic loser who drinks, gambles and at the end of the day beats her up; she works like a dog doing menial jobs where again she is abused and exploited by her employer and then the poverty, oh such cruel   poverty that two square meals will be considered to be a banquet.  Despite all these calamities, she is able to educate her handicapped child who in turn becomes a famous doctor and just when one would think that the anguish is about to end, she gets cancer and dies.  Throughout the movie she is dressed in a white sari, the color of grieving.  It is a perpetual saga of despondency, melancholy and wretchedness.

One of the great classic Indian movies of all times named Mother India, is a perfect example of this ideal, sacrificing woman.

The audiences come out of such a movie with tears rolling down their cheeks and a renewed respect and reverence for a woman.

This mother or “ Madonna” figure is the signature illustration of an ideal Indian woman in Bollywood.  She is pious, sacrificing and wallowing in eternal suffering.  The audiences bow to her-she is Madonna.


In the opposite extreme you have the woman depicted as a seductress.  She is an enchantress, a femme fatale, a temptress, a vamp all rolled into one tight package.  She oozes sexuality and lust with flat abs, protruding breasts, luscious lips, cascading ravenous hair, skimpy clothes and a husky voice.  Most of the camera frames are angled to focus on her anatomy, especially the sexually stimulating body parts such as the plump lips, heaving breasts and swinging derriere.

 

The sexuality interpreted through this woman is so over the top that it makes all the Victoria’s Secret models look like nuns.

The audiences come out of her movie panting with lust and sexual tension.  This woman is purely objectified as a sex-object-she is a whore.

You must have noted the dichotomy in Bollywood movies by now.  Women are either put on a pedestal and given the veneration and respect of a Madonna or simply portrayed as an object of lust.

Interestingly, most Indian cinema is hesitant to portray Indian women as both being a mother and also a seductress.  The two concepts appear to be diametrically opposed and do not seem to merge in a Bollywood woman.

In all honesty, the tides are changing in Indian  cinema.  Modern cinema is becoming trendy, issue based, somewhat intelligent and more realistic.  But for the past many decades the true and tried formula of the Madonna/whore theme has been a sure shot success at the box office.

What is your opinion?  Can meaningful cinema depict a woman both as a Madonna and a sex object?

I experienced a surge of emotions when I first saw this photo.  The Elegance of the gentleman  took my breath away!  So polished and tasteful!  Such finesse and refinement.  It forced me to stop, stare and think.

Elegance has become somewhat of an obsolete concept in the modern society.  Crude and rough behavior/actions are considered aggressive and are rewarded.  Alarmingly, aggressiveness is somehow a virtue in modern times!

People talk loud, dress loud, act loud.  For a slice of loudness, experiment going to a Starbucks at 6.00 a.m.  The energy is palpable.  The loud whirring of the fan is deafening (why one would need a fan in 60 degrees temperature is beyond my comprehension.)  The Baristas wired on caffeine are screaming long, incomprehensible drink orders; the patrons on their Blackberrys are trying to talk over the noisy din and of course the shrill whirring of the cappuccino machine adds to the madness.  Nope, there is nothing in this scene that is even close to being defined as a “coffee break!”

The expression “squeaky wheel gathers the most grease” is apt and appropriate in present times.  In a recent article I read, as per statistical data, the employees who spoke the loudest and were most boisterous got the maximum raises and least reprimands.  Yes, no place for a person with delicate, fine sensibilities in our society.  Dress loud, speak loud and in general live loud is the mantra!  Cult shows such as Jersey Shore and the Kardashians are a perfect example.

Vulgarity is sexy and roughness a turn-on!

The “casual” look has replaced the “formal” look.  Jeans and t-shirts are perfectly acceptable in most settings, even formal ones.

In the midst of such coarseness when one sees an elegant gentleman, regally perched on his bicycle is cooling for the eyes and senses.  It is a breath of fresh air.  It make you stop and stare, even if for a rushed moment.

Notice the attention to detail in his dressing-the peak-a-boo striped socks and shirt cuffs; the thin silhouette of the suit; the well-trimmed silver beard; the retro glasses perched on the bridge of his nose, the well-polished loafers; the suede elbow patches.  An absolute optical delight!

It is evident that he took time to get dressed.  There is attention to detail.  He takes pride in the small things.  He has dignity and grace.  He is polished and refined.  He is an Elegant Man. I am compelled to stop and stare at him.

 

 

DISCLAIMER:  This is an introspective piece.  Any materials contained in this blog are not reflective of any person I know, have known or will know, blogger or otherwise.  I love my blogger friends and they have brought nothing but sheer joy and love to my life.  Any resemblance to a person/blogger is purely accidental, unintentional and fictitious.  The picture of mine has absolutely nothing to
do with this blog and is simply to comply with the visual appeal standards recommended in various blogging manuals, thereby luring readers to skim through the blog as a necessary component in  facilitating traffic!

 Having said that, here we go!

 It has been a few months since I last blogged.  Part of it was due to paucity of time related to pressures of work, part of it due to laziness (it is surprising how quickly the human body adapts to a lazy, lackadaisical attitude) and part of it was because of a general and sudden disdain towards blogging.  You could call it the “burn-out” factor or maybe on a more philosophical, elevated level the questions that festered in my mind were “why,” “what is the point,” and “does anyone really care that I blog or not.”

I know, I know there is much to be said about the joys of blogging.  For example, the sheer joy that encompasses a blogger; the “a-ha” finding yourself moment;  the moment where the clouds drift and it becomes crystal clear that blogging is your calling, your destiny, your passion; the halo one gets from sharing, giving, receiving, tweeting and re-tweeting; the joys of experiencing ceaseless love thru #FF and the list goes on.

So, you must be asking right about now, isn’t that enough for you?  What else do you need?  You complainer, you!

I admit, for the most part blogging has been a very rewarding experience for me.  I have made lovely friends, received a lot of love and shared a part of me.

The “burn-out” factor came with the numbers game.  I confess it is probably a self-imposed pressure, but nevertheless “pressure.”  With my delicate sensibilities, pressure is not conducive for my mental well-being (ha ha!)  I work in the legal field and get enough pressure all day.  Do I really need to or have to handle blogging pressure on top of that.  So, cut me some slack and give me a break!

The numbers game can be broken down into so many sub-parts such as the number of comments you get on a blog that you have put so much time and effort into.  I have consistently noticed a good quality blog gets much fewer comments than a picture of a person shot in the backyard wearing jeans and a t-shirt.  DISCLAIMER: There is nothing wrong in wearing jeans and t-shirts or shooting pictures in the backyard!  It is all about expression. (Gosh, it appears that this blog will be all about disclaimers!)

The point I am making is that the general viewer tends to veer towards the lighter blogs.  It may or may not be visually stimulating and in all fairness what is visually stimulating for one maybe a turn-off for the other.  It all depends upon the sensibilities of each individual, especially when it comes to subjective standards such as art and fashion.

Although, I will say that certain things, objects, fashions, styles, literature can be judged by universal standards of being visually attractive or not.  There is not much left for interpretation.  A Henri Matisse painting will be found beautiful by general and well-accepted standards of beauty!  If you do not, well then you should not be on my blog.

There are a number of reasons, why “quality” “content-heavy” blogs, do not receive much traffic and it has nothing to do with the intelligence of the reader.  One big factor is lack of time.  Readers do not have the time or maybe the desire to read “content-heavy” blogs.  Simply, scrolling through the pictures is much easier and quicker.

Another reason is that most readers comment on blogs to get reciprocal traffic back.  There is much written in blog-dom about giving meaningful comments and to give meaningful comments  one will have to READ the content-heavy blog which takes time and comprehension skills.  Easier to make a spiffy comment such as “Love your hat” and move onto the next blog.  This way you multiply your chances of receiving higher reciprocal traffic back.  It is as simple as hitting the “like” button on Facebook.  Quick and thoughtless!

Of course, when you do get comments, then you are compelled to reciprocate the comments whether you like it or not, as you are way deep into the numbers game and do not want to “lose your readers.”  My point is if your readers like you, they should keep commenting whether you comment on their blog or not.  I mean, does Anna Wintour comment on my blog and yet I religiously read the Vogue month after month!

And in this ceaseless vicious circle of “I’ll comment on yours, if you comment on mine,” how many people are really interested in you or your blog?  Makes me wonder.

Then there is the pressure of blogging “at least 3 times a week” to increase traffic.  In all honesty, unless you are making money out of the blog and are doing it on a full time basis or have a trust fund or a sugar daddy, it is impossible to do it with a regular job!  There is simply no time.

Oh wait, wait there is more!  The photos, the dreaded photos!  I don’t know about you, but taking photos has lost its appeal for me after I started blogging.  It seems like a chore.  Buckled under the constant pressure of “putting new content” on the web it seems like dressing up is punishment.  How many photos can one take of oneself in the same setting, with almost the same expression on the face.  Don’t people get bored of me!  And why would they want to see me, when they can sift through Style.com and see Lara Stone with her voluptuous lips and va-va-voom body wearing the most exquisite styles!  DISCLAIMER: There is nothing wrong in taking pictures of oneself in the same setting, with the same expression.  I am only expressing my opinion and it is not a reflection of anyone or any person I know, have known or will know!

Now, I will be very blunt, because isn’t blogging all about sharing, being honest and being true to oneself.  I write quality blogs.  I take my readers through journeys that are unique.  I introduce them to new things, new ideas and new experiences.  I admit I may sound arrogant and conceited but it is true!  I am well-versed in the art of living life elegantly, whether it is related to fashion, style, food or culture.  I know what is visually attractive and what is not!  I have travelled the world and spent most of my conscious years dreaming, reading, buying, studying fashion, style and culture.  I am intelligent, write well and bring uniqueness to my blog via the myriad of experiences I have had in my life.

The question now is should I have to or need to change my blog in order to interest the “general” reader, thereby generating more traffic for the blog?  Am I forced to stand in my backyard with the same expression on my face, wearing jeans and a t-shirt so that I can appeal to the “average” reader?  Do I need to shorten my blogs and write about a mundane subject that I have no interest in whatsoever so that I can get more eyeballs on my blog?  Should I have to post three blogs a week such that I can get some traffic and then possibly an ad on my blog?  Should I have to comment
on blogs I don’t find visually or intellectually stimulating?  My answer is NO. If blogging is all about being true to myself, then I will blog on my own terms, traffic or not!

DISCLAIMER:  All the disclaimers noted above are applicable to the entirety of this blog.

 

Anish Kapoor is an acclaimed British sculptor with roots in India.  He was born in India, but has lived in England for many a decades.  His works include bright medleys of deeply pigmented colors.  The colors are audacious and daring.  He uses reds, yellows, burnt oranges, royal blues, maroons.  Such colors are deeply rooted in the culture and fabric of his birthplace, India.  It is obvious that he was inspired by his roots.

 

anish kapoor

 

But, his works also include gigantic stark, bold, curved and metallic forms; almost industrial and space-age in nature.  These sculptures are a significant departure from his colored works.  Such works are indicative of a shift, an evolution, a progression and an expansion in his work.

 

anish kapoor

 

I have been discussing inspiration at length in my prior blogs and want to make a shift.  I do not want to discuss the “standard application” of inspiration for example from a magazine, website or even a book.  True, one can get inspired from anything and everything.  The creator of Chanel nail varnishes was inspired by the color on a grocery store bag for creating the Mimosa colored nail vernis (yellow).  So, when it comes to inspiration anything and everything can be inspiring as long as you have an open mind.

 

 

Part of our inspiration comes from our roots.  The place of our birth has a genetic predisposition on our thoughts and behavior.  That is why you see Anish Kapoor using deeply pigmented mounds of color in his sculptures.  The colors and the actual forms of the mounds are deep rooted in the traditions of India.  During the festival of colors called Holi, the Indian bazaars are littered with a psychedelic array of optical colors.  The bright blues, fuchsias, reds, oranges, yellows are meant to be besmeared on friends and loved ones in joy and celebration (no, it is not barbaric or offensive, but simply pure fun!)

In addition, the spice markets in India are cluttered with heaps of various shades of red hot chili powder, bright yellow turmeric powder and an array of colors.  Anish’s sculptures are very reminiscent of the Holi festival and the colorful spice bazaars of India.  He was inspired by his roots.

Well that is all very well and good.  But, he just did not stop there.  He evolved.  He did not stagnate.  His took his art form not just a notch higher, but did a paradigm shift by creating industrial looking sculptures.  In fact, he recently designed espresso cups for my favorite brand of coffee, Illy.  As you will note, there is no semblance of color or of Indian origin in the cup.  He released his roots, evolved and made an illusory cup for Illy.

 

illy coffee

 

In fashion, art or literature, I have often seen a repetition.  The original work is unique and inspired.  But subsequently there is a repetition.  That is why we see some designers repeating their designs season after season, authors writing books on basically the same story line, a sort of déjà vu, if you will.  Painters following the same theme, work after work.  Directors directing the same plots movie after movie (no pun intended Hangover 2!)  Ironically, if the product becomes commercially successful, the chances of evolution are even less likely as nobody wants to forego a true and tried formula for success.

The point is stagnation leads to decay.  Especially in creative fields, evolution leads to new ideas.  You simply cannot churn out the same old idea and package it with new marketing.  Anish is an example of true creativity as he eschewed inspirational roots for evolution.

In my photo, there is a whiff of my colorful roots of India, but I too eschewed my roots by wearing Church’s men’s oxfords with it.  It is a step towards evolution and  up-rooting.

 

 

Inspiration is an idea. Inspiration is a vision. Inspiration is a revelation. Inspiration is creative genius. We are all inspired by something or the other when it comes to expression of our personal style. We use our inspiration and adapt it to our personal sensitivity and perception. However, at times we inhibit ourselves from fully expressing our core personality due to multiple reasons. It could be because we have an image to uphold; shyness; societal pressures; past experiences or just because we have never done it before and do not want to set any precedence.

Uninhibited expression is liberating! That is what makes us truly unique!

I want to provide this forum as an opportunity to my readers to express themselves freely.  A forum where you can have absolute creative freedom with no inhibitions or restrictions, even if it lasts for one blog entry.  I requested one of my very favorite bloggers and my dear sensitive friend Jamillah to adapt one of her inspirations to her personal style sans inhibitions and restrictions.  Thank you Jamillah for putting so much thought and effort into the blog.  You have dared to shed your inhibitions and taken a beautiful step towards uninhibited expression.  Enjoy!

Hello friends of Ambuji, my name is Jamillah and I blog over at made-to-travel. I am thrilled to be guest posting on Ambu’s blog and really was inspired (and flattered!) by her request.

When it comes to personal style we all make our own boundaries whether due to our professions or a persona we want to embody or the fear of a certain kind of attention or the want of a certain kind of attention…for whatever reason we stop ourselves from being something else.

But that does not keep us from being inspired by something or wishing for something more. Ambu’s challenge to me was to choose a piece of art that inspires something in me that is not articulated in my personal style and try to personify it.

Not an easy task, but the first piece of art that came to mind was Egon Schiele’s Kneeling Girl in Orange-Red Dress (1910).

 

Egon Schiele was born in 1890 in the Austrian village Tulln on the Danube.  His father was a station agent in the railways and after his death Schiele was sent to live with his maternal uncle. Once his uncle saw Schiele had a proclivity to art and no interest in traditional academics he had Schiele apply to Kunstgewerbeschule (the School of Arts and Crafts) in Vienna in 1906. Then at the insistence of his professors at the School of Arts and Crafts Schiele was sent to the more traditional Akademie der Bildenden Künste to study painting and drawing.

But this new setting frustrated Schiele, he did not take to the conservative ways of the Academy so he sought out Gustav Klimt. Klimt was known to generously mentor and take in young artist and after meeting Schiele he took a special interest to him and his talents.

Schiele left the Academy and began to explore not just the human form but also its sexuality. His work was often called grotesque, deemed pornography, and labeled disturbing.

Sadly, Egon Schiele died young in 1918, a victim of the Spanish Flu epidemic at the age of 28. Schiele was able to experience acceptance and success in his art before his early passing; read more on Egon Schiele here.

The Embrace (1917)

 

Schiele’s work is amazing to me. His nudes are incredibly graphic and human but also surreal. There is something incredibly raw and strong and sexy in his work which is what made me choose him and what made me select Kneeling Girl in Orange-Red Dress.

So I should tell you a bit about myself.  My blog, made-to-travel is really a joyful space. I blog on my ethical fashion finds, my personal style and random happiness I find. In my real life and blogsphere I am a positive person, a happy person, easily excited and warm, and really I LOVE it. Those qualities are lovely and I would not change ANY of that.

 

But these qualities I think influence my style and how my style is perceived. I’m often called cute and pretty and while those are great things to be I am so inspired by this raw, edgy, provocative work of Schiele’s because I think I wish I would incorporate more of that edge and feeling into my persona and style.

I want to feel sexy and raw and be provocative. And thanks to Ambu I get to express that.

 

Ok, admittedly maybe not the most obviously sexy or provocative dress but that’s not how the Kneeling Girl in Orange-Red Dress projects sexuality and that is not how I believe Schiele depicts it in his work (yes, I am referring to the nudes too).

I believe it is much more human than showing skin and so much deeper than nudity…it is that look in the eyes of Schiele’s subjects that make me think desire. That human look of being coy and being raw and mischievous with intent.

 

If I am completely honest I have to say what holds me back from keeping that look in my eyes lies in confidence and also being a bit specific in the kind of attention I want to attract.

I come from a family that didn’t talk about appearance much. I was really raised to be academic, kind and strong and now I think I manage my appearance to not distract from those qualities. And I am happy with that too, I really do enjoy my style and I’m sure it’s bound to evolve and change so maybe one day I’ll be more dark and sexy but right now I’m happy with being warm and pretty.

Thank you so much dear friend Ambu, for allowing me to express myself in this way. It’s actually been a real treat and a telling  and valuable exercise for me.

The tagline for made-to-travel is , “look for joy…always” and really that’s my wish for all of you.

When I started writing my blog, I did not have a clear defined vision for the blog.  I was unsure of the direction in which I wanted to take the blog.  The only thing I was sure of was that along with my other passions, I wanted to share my concept of non-conformity with my readers, if and when I was privileged to have some readers.

 Now some of you loyalists (whom I appreciate with all my heart) have bestowed upon me your precious time by reading my blog and commenting upon the entries.  Your comments are so thought provoking that I want to make a mini-blog of all the comments.  I am absolutely floored by your lacerating intellects, breakdowns and dissections.  Oh how I wish to sit down with all of you over a cup of cappuccino and enter into a discussion on a myriad of subjects ranging from fashion to philosophy; architecture to inspiration and conformity to non-conformity. (Such a discussion, if held in a café on the Italian Riviera will be preferable haha!)

I am an advocate of non-conformity and will continue to write on it.  I admire it because it shows strength, bravery and risk taking.  It can be in any walk of life-be it fashion, art, music, literature, architecture or even a profession.  If Mark Zuckerberg had continued to conform by following the tried and traditional path of diligently attending classes at Harvard, taking exams and upon graduating sending out resumes to be a computer programmer, would we be enjoying the fruits of the revolutionary powerhouse phenomenon called Facebook! 

We all interpret non-conformity based on our personal life experiences and sensibilities.  My sweet friend Anika just wrote a beautiful piece on her interpretation of non-conformity, that I enjoyed reading immensely.

There is no set archetype.  One of my interpretations of non-conformity is to explore, to veer away my comfort zone and forego established gauges and measures.  I am not necessarily being rebellious or radical just to make a point of being a non-conformist, but merely pivoting towards the edge in order to find my edge, my extreme, my limit.  I am testing my strength.  I am taking a risk.

 

Androgyny in fashion is a way to step out of the comfort zone for both men and women.  I have written earlier blogs on androgyny as applied to both men and women.  I find androgyny extremely intriguing and captivating.  What makes us want to digress and explore the sexuality of the opposite sex?  What is so alluring about role reversal?  Is it empowering or simply a way of testing our limit, our edge and our extreme.

Androgyny in fashion is a perfect example of non-conformism.  Both men and women who dress androgynously take a risk.  The risk of being ridiculed, judged and possibly be even rejected.  Yet, they test their limits by using their strength and stepping outside the comfort zone.

  

James Franco photographed the embodiment of androgyny, Agyness Deyn for Elle magazine.  The shot is inspired by James Dean.  Agyness is a brave girl and so comfortable with her overt androgynous sexuality.  She is unique and hence one of the most sought after models.  Yes, non-conformity pays and can bring huge dividends!

marc jacobs

Marc Jacobs is wearing pearls and a skirt while supporting a day old stubble from Prada’s fall 2011 collection.  It is an ode to being an ardent Miuccia Prada fan.  He look simply scrumptious!  Marc took a risk to don a skirt and wear a strand of pearls on that perfectly chiseled Greek God body of his. 

I too explored my androgyny by dressing in a man’s suit, albeit a somewhat shrunken one inspired more by Thom Brown than Brooks Brothers!  It was a step towards finding my strength, even if the pivot towards the edge was only slight.  I think I still have it in me to risk a steeper incline to find my edge.  As for the day old stubble, I will have to stand on the precipice of my edge for that!