Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Live Painting & Music: Ganga Mix ft. Heol at GUST Kuwait

The canvas came alive, right before our very eyes.

The artist's deft fingers moved quickly and decisively. A dab here, a stroke there. He was bold in his choice of colour. But the vibrant hues never clashed, and each touch of paint augmented the harmony of the colours. They just were. It was incredible, witnessing his imagination transition onto the canvas. You almost felt as though you could follow his train of thought...

On one side of the canvas was the outline of a man. The colours appeared to come out of nowhere as he began to take form. He grew a goatee and wore a puff-sleeved tunic. His hands held an oud. His eyes were closed and his brow furrowed. He didn't seem to be in the present moment—his music seemed to have drawn him away, miles away from where he sat strumming the strings of his oud. His face reflected the inner peace his music evidently gave him. What was he playing that affected him so deeply? Who was he playing it for?

Upon the center was a vague mass with menacing holes in it. Defined lines and strokes of paint were added, and a woman's eyes emerged, beautiful eyes, each mirroring different emotions—one, pensiveness, the other, shock. The artist kept enhancing them with finishing touches, and his talent leaped out from the canvas.

The other artist worked mostly on the other end, highlighting contours of veiled women, and then a man in a ghutra, adding more details and definitive features.

Work in progress

A close up of the soulful musician

There was live music accompanying the art, reverberating through the hall, played by two French musicians on drums, trumpets, a keyboard and some very peculiar-looking percussion instruments. One track conjured up an image from an old Western: that of a rattlesnake rattling its tail in a desert, with the wind gusting through the land. They played several tracks, some soothing, and some:

(L-R) The artists: Heol, Amira Behbehani
The musicians: Pierre-Yves Prothais, Nournours Lhoumeau,
Hashim Al Nasser

I must note how big a difference it makes to attend an event like this with someone who expresses their interpretation of art (had a lovely time with you S!).

Overall, a remarkable event. A huge shout out to Institut Français du Koweït for bringing it to Kuwait.
If you live in Kuwait, stay updated with upcoming concerts and events with Kuwait Music.

Artists: Heol, Amira Behbehani
Musicians: Pierre-Yves Prothais, Nournours Lhoumeau forming the Ganga Mix duo, Hashim Al Nasser

I am in no way an art or music critic. This is just my interpretation of the artwork, a narration of the thoughts it aroused in me.

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Crossing off #23

#23. Capture lightning on camera. (refer Before I Die list)

I was working past midnight last night and, exhausted, had decided to turn in. I heard the pattering of raindrops as I crawled into bed, and flung open the window just in time to see the dark skies coruscate with a brilliant flash of lightning. Ain't no way I was going to sleep through a thunderstorm!

I wished I had a DSLR to capture the lightning, but having nothing but a pitiful iPhone 4S on me, I abandoned the thought and gazed out from the darkness of my room, craning my head to catch sight of every lightning bolt that hit the earth. My sister came in and sat beside me. We watched the clouds pour their frustrations onto the land and counted the seconds between the lightning and thunder. I voiced my wish and she suggested I take a video on my phone. I could pause the video when the lightning appeared and take a screenshot.

So I tried it. I got a decent video of a single bolt of lightning on my second attempt, but my aesthetic sense wasn't satisfied; I wanted multiple streaks of lighting rending through the open sky. I tried again for another thirty minutes. The lightning refused to strike through the spot of sky I would focus the camera on, but with a bit of patience (which is very hard for me to muster), secure with the knowledge that it would come, I finally captured it on camera.

Nothing as awe-inspiring as witnessing a lightning storm
take charge of the skies.

I've watched the video several times and it's fascinating to note how the light travels through the web of lightning bolts, illuminating them at different parts within a second. It took forever to get a screenshot at the split second the lightning appeared. I slept late, had to wake up early this morning and I'm still exhausted, but it was so worth it.

I just learnt of an iOS app called iLightningCam 6.0 that facilitates the tricky business of getting a shot of lightning strikes. I wish I'd known about it before; perhaps the picture quality would have been better, but I think my phone did a decent job without it.

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

"I AM the Greatest of All Time!"

"We are only brave when we have something to lose and we still try. We can't be brave without fear." - Muhammad Ali

My parents have been fervent admirers of Muhammad Ali since before I can remember. My dad had a tape of one of the boxer's fights that he would sometimes watch over the weekend. Not understanding the appeal of a boxing match, I would leave the room. When Will Smith's Ali was released, my dad bought a copy of a documentary on M. Ali, and after watching it I half-understood what the deal was, but wasn't interested enough to watch the movie. I do remember the scenes in which he accepted Islam and refused to be drafted in the Vietnam War because it was against his beliefs.

Earlier this week, my sister shared a link of a short documentary on how Muhammad Ali played a pivotal role in the release of US prisoners of war released after Saddam Hussein's army captured them and others during the 1990 invasion of Kuwait. It was very moving, especially the concluding scene, and as it was pretty close to home I was overcome by a strong desire to know more about him.

And so I chanced upon his autobiography, Soul of a Butterfly: Lessons on Life's Journey, which is more of a narration of his spiritual journey, before and after he embraced Islam. No movie or actor can truly show you the man Muhammad Ali was—for that you must read his book. It is an infinitesimal glimpse into his soul. Every page I read strengthens my conviction of how a great a man he is. I'm not terribly interested in Muhammad Ali the boxer, although his achievements are remarkable. It's the man himself that has me captivated and awe-struck. His goodness, humility, selflessness, humour, compassion, unshakable faith in God, unwavering confidence in his abilities, his ideals...what I especially admire about him is how he always stuck to his guns, refusing to budge from his principles, even at the risk of imprisonment, consequently raising the ire of the US government and the general public. His license to box was rescinded and he lost over three prime boxing years, but he stood his ground and never regretted his decision.

The book has so many lessons we can learn from, wise words that we can inculcate into our lives to enrich them. The writing is simple, yet holds so much depth. I keep highlighting sentences that I'd like to look up  and read again. I am sorely tempted to publish a post containing the dozens of quotes I've marked, but that wouldn't be fair to you (and would probably count as copyright infringement). I hope you read the book in its entirety and that it affects you as positively as it has me.

I'll leave you with one of his quotes that I love and try to live by.

"True success is reaching our potential without compromising our ideals."