Ok thats a bold title- more of what exactly? What I mean by this is we need to do more artistically for our world, more for our communities and their causes and more for our natural environment (which we are close to decimating within our own lifetimes by over-population and consumerism).
My reason for saying the above is that I recently wrote a series of Blog articles on a famous Artist and his story got me thinking about what he achieved with his art. The guy actually saved thousands if not hundreds of thousands of lives by producing the particular art that he did and at the time he did it and for free, as a needed service to his community. The guy was an out and out Hero in my book since as the author of the art, if its true intention were discovered, its not as if he could hide and say he didnt produce it! He definitely would have been held responsible for it and that carried the death penalty of being burned at the stake during this particular era.
When I attempted to share this story with the custodians of this artists memory, the various museums who showcase his existing works and educate the public about his life etc, they were least bothered to learn about it, most never even opened the emails and the few “ART” newspapers I sent it to also didnt bother to publish the information or check/validate it or otherwise acknowledge it and that got me thinking. What has happened to our craft, our industry? Art, in all of its forms, used to be the medium of choice for communicating the big issues of the day, topics that were edgy, risky to talk about in a bar after you had or your friends had a few drinks, divisive issues etc, it was a way to get things out there, make people think, accept that there was a problem, deal with those problems etc.
Now it seems that even in the ART world we are distorting even our own artists so that they no longer resonate with the same vibrancy that they lived in this world with. How can we not be bothered about finding out some new facet of an artist that previously we thought we knew so well? We should at least be interested to investigate it and establish its authenticity but it seems that is not the case any longer. The custodians of our Art Museums seem more invested in how these new discoveries will affect their own book sales or professional credibility and egos than they do about the facts. Of course this is not just happening in the Art industry, I can recall the same thing started in the archaeology industry with Zafi Huwaz (sorry if I spelled your name wrong Zafi but you seem least bothered about facts like that when you were head of Egyptian antiquities ). He point blank refused to accept FACTS as proof that the pyramids were older than he himself had dated them or that any other culture could have antiquities that were more advanced or that pre-dated the pyramids! What business do people like this have in public office of any sort??
Maybe some of you have heard me say before that Art is the highest form of science but I will state it again just in case you did not. Its very important fundamental of life to understand this concept. Art is not only the form of the communication but it also the intelligence communicated through that form. The synchronisation of those two things can create beauty that is more than the sum of its parts in that it continues to resonate and take on a life of its own long after its creator has ceased to exist. Andy Warhol says it best when he said ” The point is not to live forever but to create things that will!” So this communication of intelligence that is beauty and that makes the receiver want to share and preserve it, is a science because it is the fundamental sign of intelligence. Without intelligence there can be no science.
Perhaps my logic is not well expressed here but I just know that I am right on this, I feel it in my bones. I also feel that we are all being sold short by our Governments on the big issues out there facing our existence, that we are being dubbed-down in a way that is very sinister. A way that we are accepting these days like we would never have done in the past. Like artists have NEVER done in the past and I thought why is that?
This is why I wrote this article, bcuz if you are reading it I want you to know that if you want your art to mean something then you have to start communicating the big issues of the day using your art. Forget about writing books and painting pictures for the rich and famous or getting a disbursement from some museum. Get out into your community and help somebody with your art, use your skill to communicate their message in a way that they never could, give their idea a life that transcends its creator and gives power to their cause (which incidentally should be a cause for humanity if you understood me right?)
According to world famous auction house Christie`s- Adolf Hitler a German Politician and leader of the Nazi Party, favourite picture was “The Knight, Death & The Devil” by German Renaissance Artist Albrecht Durer made in 1514.
Hitler (wrongly) interpreted this picture to represent a Catholic German Teutonic Knight fearlessly pushing-on even when confronted by this nightmarish scene. In fact both the Artist and the Art had quite opposite meanings!
For the last 500yrs German born Albrecht Durer has been described as a Catholic but new research shows that he was almost certainly a ” secret or Crypto-Jew” outwardly conforming to Catholic religious practices but secretly part of the German/Jewish Ashkenazi community of Nuremburg. Durer became famous during the early 1500`s making extraordinarily fine quality prints such as “The Knight, Death & The Devil’ (Hitlers favourite picture) and the other 2 prints that became known as his Masterpiece Trilogy, “Melancholia I” and ” St Jerome in his study”.
Durer was asked many times during his lifetime to explain the meaning behind these 3 Masterpieces but he refused to do so, now we can reveal that had he done so, he would not only have signed his own death warrant but also those of the many other Crypto-Jews (German/Jews who were using his prints to secretly carry on practising their faith in open view of their religious persecutors across Europe).
Across Europe, Jewish religious persecution was at its height, the Spanish Inquisition was under renewed vigour, torturing confessions and conversions out of Jews and Muslims alike and burning at the stake those who would not convert to Christianity or give up all of their possessions to the Church and leave. Durer lived in the Catholic Holy Roman Empire and was even employed as an Artist to the Holy Roman Emperor himself, Maximillian I, but this was no guarantee of safety. Maximillian had just employed a former Jew who had converted to Christianity to be the leader of his quest to hunt-out & expunge all Jews from his Empire. All previous methods of secrecy for the Jewish people were now in doubt, a new system of maintaining the “Mitzvah” (Jewish religious Law & practises that stretches back to the time of Moses) was the need of the hour.
Its quite incredible to imagine that these were the conditions under which Albrecht Durer was able to conceive his greatest ever artwork, his Trilogy of Masterpieces. Works and Art that quite literally saved a nation and countless lives.
The 10 minute read:-
If your time is limited right now then you can get a great idea of all the new research that shows exactly how Albrecht Durer was able to do this by just reading A 500 yr old Art Mystery Solved-Final Part but we strongly recommend that when you are able to do so, try to read all 5 blogs to get the in-depth details and analysis.
The 40 minute read:-
If you have the time then the whole series of 5 Blog articles will only take you 40 mins to read and give you an unprecedented depth of understanding of just how much skill was involved and artistry to weave all of the requirements of the Mitzvah into these pictures and yet still keep their meaning totally hidden except to its elite audience of Crypto-Jews. Click on these links to go to
I cant believe it, we actually maxed out facebook in 3 weeks! At first I was happy with everyones effort to reach the milestone of 5,000 friends in such a small time but to be honest it just created another problem!! How do we continue to grow followers and why does facebook put limits on your account in this way? I had no idea it had a limit at all.
The answer on how to continue to grow your facebook account is to convert to a Fan base page although why we did not get offered that option at the start I am not sure, we did enter all of our Business details, company name etc and entered my name as a secondary thing, a requirement of opening any facebook page apparently and hey presto! Facebook created our account in my personal name! Not sure what we will lose in the process of changing over and how useful the new “fan” page will be compared to the functionality of the facebook page, steep learning curve for someone from an “old skool” education.
Apparently facebook limits you to 5,000 friends for technical reasons and hides that fact behind the excuse that less than 1% of people have more than 2-3,000 friends. I am not arguing with them, after all the service is free and its pretty damn good for free, if a bit inconvenient at times, so I will just have to cope and get this facebook fans page up and running (hopefully without losing too much functionality).
Twitter, Linked-In & Blogs Disappoint
Social media channels are not really turning out to be quite what I was expecting at the start of my journey down the internet super-highway. I had imagined that it would be a bit like jumping into a huge ocean with waves coming and going in all directions, taking my messages to anywhere that I wanted to send them, people and places just waiting to receive my latest thoughts and creations. What a mistake! Unless you already have your following, you will find it hard work on any of the platforms to build up any kind of audience, in fact that seems to be an art in itself.
You can shout from the roof tops on Twitter but unless someone is following you or you start to write “tweets” on the trending topics just to get noticed, you are wasting your time. Blogs, Facebook and LinkedIn also suffer from a similar kind of inertia that can be demoralising in the early days. I guess after some time I will just forget about it since I was always expecting to advertise to bring in traffic to the website. Its just that you kind of get caught up in the whole hype of being able to connect with everyone just by doing what you do best, unfortunately its never going to happen that way unless you pay an expert to spend a year writing blogs and tweaking SEO tags, pumping out facebook posts and twitter “tweets”. Back to my plan A, which was to use Google, Facebook and LinkedIn as paid advertising traffic platforms to drive traffic to the website directly.
Social Media is not Real-Life
Social Media is not real-life and if you are not careful you will end up using all of your creative juices trying to work out how to “hack the system”, producing endless digital drivel, just to satisfy some algorithm somewhere!! My new approach is much more liberating to my art and I am sure that the benefits in my artistic productivity will be better for the business. Now you know why we are switching to Facebook Fan page and I apologise in advance for any inconvenience this may cause. Thank you for your support so far.
Some time ago I realised that after years of drawing the human face, I had neglected to keep up my study of its other limbs, particularly hands, so I began some deep study on this subject to brush-up my skills. During my researches I re-visited some of Albrecht Durer`s studies of hand compositions. Durer was probably the greatest German artist of all time and despite being a contemporary of Leonardi Da Vinci, Michael Angelo, Raphael and Bellini, he has probably never quite achieved the same recognition today due to the fact that he produced very few painted masterpieces, preferring to engrave his artworks for use as plates on printing presses. According to him, this employment paid more than painted portraits in 16th century Nuremburg, Germany!
Although the above engraving is now a stand alone artwork it was actually just a small part of a much larger composition featuring a number of figures, testimony to Durer`s pursuit of perfection of even minor aspects of his engravings.
Looking at one masterpiece led to another and then another until I was face to face with one one of the most talked about masterpieces in the world- the Melancholia-1 by Albrecht Durer (see top of blog). This engraving, and its quite hard to believe that anyone could engrave such a fantastically detailed and exquisite picture with just a sylus and a plate of copper, has defied most art critics attempts at explanation for the last 500 yrs.
It has you wrapped-up into it the moment you start to look at it and you just never get bored of looking and enjoying the way it makes you look again. Every nook and cranny is just packed with ambiguities and contradictions built into it! What about the figures in the composition, who are they and why are they there?? It seems the most widely accepted understanding of the print is that it represents the physical and mental condition of Melancholia (16th century depression) and that the figures are the Angel of Genius with Putti or Cherubim as a companion. Renaisscence europe believed that the Angel of Genius could inspire flights of creativity beyond the generally accepted limits of accomplishments (melanchola generosa), but that it could also bring depression, insanity and spiritual torpor or state of lowered mental activity (melancholia miseria).
At the time Durer made the 1514 engraving in Nuremburg, another polymath German, Heinrich Agrippa, was also making waves in Nuremburg with his 3 books on the Occult. These were later to be banned by the religious authorities but they were in manuscript form long enough for some art critics to suggest that Durer was planning a series of 3 engravings featuring the 3 states of Melancholia as described in the Agrippa book.
As proof that Durer was indeed borrowing an idea from Agrippa`s Occult book, they cite the facts that Durer labelled the engraving with the number I, indicating that there would be 2 more engravings and the fact that the medical condition of Melancholia was believed by astrologists of the time to be influenced by the planet Saturn, which they say is shown in the background of the picture, beneath the rainbow style arc. Finally they say it is proven that Durer did read Agrippa manuscript on Occult because he also “borrowed” the 4×4 Jewish magic square from it, something I would agree with because it was possibly the first time this kind of thing had ever come into the public domain and too much of a co-incidence considering that both men were in the employ of the Holy Roman Emperor, at the same time period.
However, in Agrippa`s Occult book, this condition of melancholic and the 3 states he describes, are attributed to the planet of Saturn whose magic square is a 3×3 square. Therefore we cannot assume that Durer was influenced by Agrippas book in the way that previous critics have suggested, even if we still believe that Durer did have in mind producing more than 1 state of Melancholia as described above (melancholia generosa and melancholia miseria).
The magic square that Durer copied from Agrippa Occult book is less of a co-incidence with regard to the composition of the engraving though, since Durer makes some subtle changes to the position of numbers that reference specific text in the old testament books of the Bible, traditionally these are known as the Jewish part of the Bible, coming from Moses time. Agrippa only shows one version of the 4×4 magik square out of a possible 880 unique versions that can be made, so why did Durer have to use the same one as Agrippa? I will cover the magik square in more detail another time but in order to help resolve the identity of the Angel we should be aware that the particular 1-16 magic square of 4×4 =34 in Agrippa`s book was symbolic of the Jewish 4th order of Angels, the right hand of God whose quality was known as Chessed/Mercy, it was also symbolic of the planet Jupiter who was ruled by one of the 72 Angels. Agrippa covered many ancient civilisations beliefs in his Occult Philosophica Book but was particularly enamoured with the Jewish one, so perhaps it was also important to Durer for this reason also?
Durer seems highly likely to have been influenced by this book on the Occult, though in different ways than have been imagined so far, despite the books name it had little to do with the Occult and witch craft. Instead it was a thesis on advanced mathematics, linguistics, astronomy, astrology and cryptography, all obscured behind the veneer of a book on the Occult/witchcraft. It is probably no co-incidence that Durer embarked on a frenetic project of writing his own books on geometry, mathematics, properties of light (still used today in computer renditions of light falling on an object in virtual reality) and even fortifications, shortly after this engraving.
Back to the picture! I believe the key quite literally to this masterpiece are the angelic figures (one of whom has a bunch of keys and a money purse tied to their belt) and the title of the piece itself- Melancholia I. Albrecht Durer was actually of Slavic/Jewish descent from a family of Goldsmiths who had moved to Germany from Yugoslavia after a revolt within the Court of Mathius Corvinus (then all part of the Holy Roman Empire). His Slavic/Jewish roots would have made him acutely aware of the Old Testament Bible accounts and their allegorical stories (hidden meanings). In fact one of the pictures in the trilogy, St Jerome in his study, also hints at this Slavic/Jewish background as St Jerome was from a similar geographical Slavish/Jewish area, called Strido in Roman Times, near Dalmatia & Thrace and he was famous for being the first person to translate a Jewish version of the Bible into Latin (as opposed to the current Greek version into Latin). So I think there is good reason to believe this complex engraving is also allegorical in nature, containing many narratives, normally four if it is to align with the Jewish Kabbalah methods of allegorical encryption and “entering into Pardez- the orchard of knowledge”.
The starting point to unravel this engraving are the Angels, who or what are they? If we take the Biblical book of Genesis as our guide and the oldest known reference to angels, we see that there are 72 Angels in total whose names are listed in the first chapter of Genesis It gives the formula for working out the 72 names from 3 letter names into 5 letter names and lists the God-like qualities that each angel possesses, emphasising that the 72 qualities are all part of God and so therefore the Angelic names are also names of God. It is some time later in other books that these are split down into other sub-groups. The Zohar and the Kabbalah of the Jews are the first to do this (but all others follow the same rules) and they further split the 72 angels into 9 orders of 8 angels per order. Here we have only 2 types. The small cupid like angel is a Cherubim, tasked with recording what happens in the universe (see the scribe pad and stylus he is using) and guarding the East gate where the Tree of Life sits in the Biblical garden of Eden. In the Old Testament part of the Bible (The books of Moses the Jew) the Cherubim are described as having 4 faces (the face of a lion, a bull, an eagle and a man) and 4 pairs of wings and many eyes, since they are the guardians of Gods Holy light, the sun, the moon and the stars but this way of portraying them in art had gone out of fashion long before Durer`s time and instead the ¨Putto¨ (or chubby child with wings) style of portraying Cherubim was used by artists to highlight their character of innocence and purity. Cherubim are the second highest order of Angels and hold the wisdom of the Universe, they do not normally mix with Angels from the lower 6 levels (another reason why they are highlighted as innocent and pure), so the appearance of the Cherubim with another Angel in this way is probably highlighting to us that something significant is happening (or not happening) here.
The second Angel is more difficult to identify but if we look above her we can see that there is a sun-dial and an hour glass, both of which represent time. The bell to the right symbolises that the time is your time (when it is rung of course), so it is yet another symbol of time or calling. Looking above the Cherubim we see a set of scales that are generally symbolic of judgement or Veritas in Latin.
Therefore on the Biblical second level of allegorical meaning (the first level being the immediate visual art we see) the symbolism here is of a time of judgement. Normally there are two angels that assist in the judgement process with God according to Bibles, the Angel of Charity (misericordia in Latin) and the Angel of Justice (judicium in Latin), the quality of “truth” being the result of their actions. These two angels can be seen on many artworks of the time and going back to at least 800CE to the start of the Carolingian Dynasty (Jewish Hasmodean bloodline) of Europe. Angels are one of the few subjects that cannot be allegorically represented and must be clearly represented in medieval iconography however, there were no guidelines about which part of their identity or character was represented.
In Jewish and Kabbalah circles, the God like quality of Charity/Mercy or Misericordia in Latin, was known as Chesed in Hebrew. This Jewish term is rather a complex one because as well as defining the God-like quality of Love, mercy, charity, pity, piety & victory, it also could mean something close to the opposite of these things, defeat, apostasy, misery, despondency etc or Melancholia reflecting the Jewish idea of duality in nature. Now take a look at our Angels again, we can see that they are showing qualities close to being the opposite of Misericordia. For this reason I believe that Albrecht Durer has chosen to portray the less well known aspect of the Jewish Chesed 4th Order of Angels, as Melancholia I (instead of the normal Chesed Misericordia qualities) which would have been more easily recognised by its viewers. Further evidence that this Angel is meant to represent Chesed is symbolised by the 4×4 magik square which is mentioned in Agrippa`s Occult book as representing the Jewish 4th Sephirot also known as Chesed or Dominions on the Jewish tree of life and associated with the planet Jupiter. Re-enforcing the status of this Angel as the “right hand of God”, we see a bunch of 6 or 7 keys on display hanging from her belt along with a purse of money, the clear symbols of High Office, power, knowledge and life. Dominions Angels are responsible for keeping the natural order of the universe as God designed it by enforcing the universal laws of nature and of all the other ranks of Angels below them. There is a quote from the book of revelations where a similarly dressed mighty angel is described holding a book of seals in his right hand ( note this angel has a similar book under her right arm?) and Saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing.”
Why Durer went to these lengths to obscure the identity of the Angel and thus hide a major clue to the true meaning of the engraving is not evident at this level, we need to go deeper into the picture.Unfortunately we dont have time to continue with the rest of this exposition but if you would like to know more on the rest of my interpretation please leave a comment and I could continue this in another blog. Thanks for getting this far!
Since our last blog, many people have criticised Nandan Artist for his move over to an online platform as opposed to the traditional bricks and mortar type Art Galleries. In this blog I attempt to de-bug some of the miss-conceptions about the Indian Art markets and their network of 100+ modern and contemporary visual art galleries.
Modern and contemporary visual arts in India didnt really start until the early 1990`s when Indian Modernism was accepted globally as expressing the modern Indian identity through the use of traditional visual themes and international aesthetic influences. This seismic change was fuelled by Cultural Elites within the Indian market who saw an opportunity to dominate sales from their national open galleries and museums in order to enter the Global Art market.
Up until this time Indian Art had no recognised value on the International Art market since no pieces were owned by the International galleries themselves, the gatekeepers of art and aspiring artists. Without value there could be no meaningful sales to the economic elite of the countries outside of India. Recognising that this International network of art galleries translated artistic value into economic price (& vice versa) was the key driver behind Indian Modernism.
Globally, buyers and collectors of art are normally from the ruling minority among the upper social class of any country, defining the aesthetic standards for their group and for all of the social groups below them. This is mainly because Art Products are expensive due to the nature of their production method. Art Galleries therefore, are one of the main providers of symbolic goods for cultural elites, who dictate taste and lifestyle aspirations to society in general and particularly those social classes that live in and around a city, cultural or social capital.
The question now is who is driving the Art in India? Is it the artist, the gallery or the cultural elite? It is our opinion that the galleries in India have been slowly dominated by the cultural elite since the introduction of Indian Modernism, a look into the management of the galleries reveals the facts. Many galleries now, through the influence of such cultural elites on management teams are re-defining their roles, becoming Art Producers in an attempt to shape demand (gathering funds and patronising their own artistic projects, Serendipity in delhi is one example but there are many)
This kind of expensive Art and the galleries who promote it, is not what Sketch Portrait Studio is about. We want art to touch everybody in an uncomplicated way, affordable art that you can expect to hang and enjoy everyday on your own walls. The kind of art that isn`t meant to be only understood by a small number of people with a specialised knowledge or interest. For this reason we decided to launch the website and not compromise our creativity. We hope you like the results!
For the last 20yrs Nandan Artist has been too busy producing his sketch art to satisfy demand, that very little focus was spent on other aspects of his art, such as sculpture and painting. This was a strong motivational factor behind the setting up of the new website venture Sketch Portrait Studio, allowing Nandan to showcase other facets of his talent in a more efficient way than the traditional brick and mortar Art Gallery or Museum route. Taking this “epic trip” down the internet superhighway is a seismic shift for most artists, a totally different way of doing things but it is one that can be very liberating in terms of audiences reached, recognition achieved, freedom to experiment and freedom from the everyday distractions that can dilute the creative forces bubbling inside of an artist.
All the usual services are still available through the new website, LIVE sketch portraits, sketches produced from PHOTOs, Event appearances etc., but along with these you will also be able to access GALLERIES on the new website. The gallery are listed under the SERVICES page and showcase new talent as well as exhibitions of Nandan Artist`s painted works. Among these gallery is the MEMBERS ONLY gallery where specially selected new artwork is offered to our members before it is marketed to the general public. Membership is FREE to this area because we want to get people interested in buying art again and we feel the best way to do this is to showcase great art to people in a convenient online format, as soon as the paint dries and at affordable prices! We want our artists work to bring joy and value into the buyers life every time they look at their art piece in their home or office.
Please register yourself at the bottom of our homepage and take a browse through our genuinely original artwork galleries, there is no fake art on this website! We hope you get as much joy out of viewing the art as the artist did producing them. Next Blog we will chat in a bit more detail about the 100+ art galleries dotted around India and if they are good for art or not?
There was nothing wrong with the original logo really, the fonts were nice and the design was of a diamond to convey the image of quality but it wasnt really an “art” logo if I am being honest. What we really needed was something that expressed our core values about our craft and not some commercial goal, although every struggling artist will testify that this is a point not to ignore!
We started with a blank piece of paper and looked for ideas about creative forces, Chi, Yin & Yang, positive & negative, Dharma etc until we ended up looking at some alchemist/mathematician from 500 years ago called John Dee. A quite brilliant and fascinating guy who was chief councillor to Queen Elizabeth I of England at one time. Anyway he came up with a logo, and a thesis to support its design, called the Hieroglyphic Monad (google it to see the actual design).
This Hieroglyphic Monad represented the astronomical forces of creation at work in the universe and all coded into this logo. What was cool about the logo is that you needed to have it explained to understand the true significance of it, otherwise it just looks like a symbol that could mean anything. Dee explained this symbol to very few people during his lifetime and so we are still speculating as to its exact uncoded meaning but we can see that it definitely is a way to understand the alignment of all the planets in the solar system based on a heliocentric version of the solar system ( a knowledge that would get you the death sentence until 400 years after Dee`s death)
In our version of Dee`s Monad, we have inserted more geometric elements in homage to Picasso and his cubism modern art, reminding us to keep the child within and to remain fearless in the act of creativity itself. The universal force (there is only one) that displays two opposite and equal characters is represented by the female character (on the left side and upright) and the male character (on the right side and upside-down). The 3 geometric shapes further represent the 4 dimensions of art, 3 dimensions of the physical world and the 4th dimension of the spiritual or creative world. As sketch artists, the first dimension is the starting point of all drawings, the point or as Dr Dee calls it “the Monad” -represented on our logo by one of the circles since you cannot draw a circle without the knowing the point about which the circles circumference will be equi-distant from, at any given point. The 2nd dimension is also represented by one of the circles but this time because it literally is a graphic representation of the second dimension i.e a sphere drawn in plan view or flat view. Interestingly, the circle is formed by taking a straight line and closing the loop as it were. Our 3rd dimension is represented by the triangle that has too much significance to go into now, except to say that along with the concept of spacial depth it also embodies the concept of proportion- particularly the proportion of the golden ratio of classical art and geometry. The 4th dimension of art is represented by the square, the dimension of spirituality, represented globally by all pagan religions as a square or cube. I hope we didnt bore anyone too much with this!
It is quite amazing to finally see this project get off the ground and materialise onto the internet. My sincere thanks to my co-founder and friend, Nandan Artist, the supreme talent and inspiration behind the whole idea, a man with a big heart. To everyone else who has supported us and continue to support us by joining our Club, both of us humbly thank you!