The other day someone wrote in asking for information on artists who can make a portrait from a photograph. Frankly, there are very few people who now opt for this. Portraits were more common in the days when full colour photography was in its nascent stages. Remember, any palace you visited you could find numerous members of the royal family staring you down. Most of them were characterised by the feature that wherever you went their eyes seemed to be following you around. It gave one a strange and eerie feeling.
These days, very few people have their portraits painted, although there are a few who get a late family member’s portrait done. In this case a photograph is used as a reference to create an exact replica of the photograph, or it is used to create a portrait which gives an impression as if the subject had posed for it.
Portrait painting is a specialised field and requires considerable skill to ensure a resemblance to the subject. As this falls in the realm of realism, the artist does not have any scope to experiment with his creativity. Nowadays, there are many ways to ensure an exact reproduction of the subject, but in the olden days, artists had to rely completely on their skill to do so. John Singleton Copley was one such painter who was well known in the latter half of 18th century. He was famous for his realistic looking portraits that sparkled with the illusion of real silk, lace, pearls, skin and hair.
One of the few art exhibitions that I visited last week was one at Chitrakala Parishath where these larger than life sized metallic statues gleamed in the sunlight. A Red Indian with a spear and a rifle stood menacingly with his feet apart, while a Spiderman was perched on the rocky surface. These were the creations of Ilyas Ahmed, a welding engineer who now turns metal scrap into sculptures. Ilyas began his artistic tryst by taking a generator apart and putting it back together as a small statue. Now, this has turned into a passion and he actually buys scrap to create these pieces. Here and there one could recognize nuts, bolts, and chains which were used to form the metallic chassis.
The metallic parts were treated in order to prevent rusting.
Toy sized motorcycles and hybrid creatures that probably abound in the gaming videos and popular fictional characters from films were carefully displayed on shelves and pedestals. The sculptures that ranged in price from Rs 2,500 to 5 lakhs were seen to be attracting a lot of visitors. What stood out in these sculptures was the excellent design and workmanship.
(Published in Bangalore Mirror)