“Couple with philosopher”- a painting by Jatin Das

A couple and aphilosopher

Jatin Das is a highly respected artist in India. There is a man and a woman and standing between them is a philosopher .Perhaps it is a husband and a wife ,each of them looking at the philosopher for an answer to a tricky question of life. Or may be,it is the philosopher between them who comes between them all the time preempting their asking any questions about life. The philosopher is looking at neither of them although the man is eagerly awaiting an answer. May be, he is in need of an answer more than the woman who is merely looking on.

The colours are pretty,three different colours used for three characters. The reddish tinge on the man shows his passionate nature while the woman is blue and placid .All the while the philosopher ,in the ochre robes of a wise man,is looking away as though he seems to know the answer but is unwilling to give it.


Beauty and duty

“Bonjour, I am considered an attractive 26 year old woman. I have at
times been asked to model but never have. I find our culture’s
obsession with beauty unappealing and it has led me to sort of play
down my beauty in dress. Should I be worried or at least conscious of
society and its issues around beauty? Or should I just strive to be themost beautiful I can be, disregarding other things, purely for the sake
of aesthetics?”


An interesting response has come that there is a duty cast on the beautiful people to please others and enhance themselves that way in the interest of the general wellness of the

Polemics apart,the questioner herself says she is considered attractive – a fact that she does not seem to care much but in fact pretends she does not care much.Deep within she seems to feel gratified by the so called public admiration of her looks but the “intellectual” in her does not approve of it and hence the conflict.That is how it looks like . But that is not important.How does she conclude that her beauty pleases everyone if we define beauty as a quality which pleases. I really do not believe that there is an absolute quality about things which pleases in terms of aesthetic value.This keeps changing from social and cultural perspectives and I do not see any single judgment from all cultural backgrounds which suggests an agreement.

One must not look at the local colour by itself but in conjunction with the colour of the sky

Vincent van Gogh to Theo van Gogh : 12 October 1883

“one must not look at the local colour by itself, but in conjunction with the colour of the sky!

That sky is grey -but so iridescent that even our pure white would be unable to render this light and shimmer. Now, if one begins by painting this sky grey, thus remaining far below the intensity of nature, how much more necessary it is to tone down the browns and yellowish-greys of the soil to a lower key, in order to be consistent. I think if once one analyses it thus, it is so logical, one can hardly understand not having always seen it so.”

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How Our Form Affects Our Perception


“A human being is part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. We experience ourselves, our thoughts and feelings as something separate from the rest. A kind of optical delusion of consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from the prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty. The true value of a human being is determined by the measure and the sense in which they have obtained liberation from the self. We shall require a substantially new manner of thinking if humanity is to survive. (Albert Einstein, 1954)”

The creative process in people with mental diseases

“Still Life with an acquarium” by a schizhphrenic artist Bruce Doyle

(Bruce Doyle
Still Life with Aquarium, 1988)

This work involved a multi-staged printing process and a high degree of organizational skills, suggesting the work was created with a relatively calm state of mind despite the artist’s diagnosis of schizophrenia. This highlights the problematic nature of correlating artworks to an individual diagnosis, rather than understanding them in the context of the artist’s precise state of mind at the time.


The creative process in the case of people suffering from mental diseases perhaps reflects the state of their minds .But not in all cases. In the above case the painting does not show any unusual or abnormal perceptions of reality.

When you look at the painting you get a feeling that the perception of the artist is no different than any other person’s. There is a certain order which is instinctively felt within a normal person when he sees a similar arrangement which we may call “normal” and any deviation from this arrangement may result out of a distortion of perception. On the first look one does not feel that any distortion has taken place .For example there is just one chair but four cups and the chair is out of alignment with the width of the table.But this does not mean that no conscious desire is in evidence to reproduce reality .For the sake of verisimilitude the handles of the three cups are made visible from the angle from which the picture is laid out and one cup’s handle is turned the other side making it invisible in this perspective.There are four fish in the aquarium ,all of which are swimming in the same direction as they do in real life.

Let us see how the artist has dealt with the problem of space within the painting.This is not a surreal painting where distortions from real life take place in the way objects are laid out. The depth of field is indicative of the relative spaces between objects as they are seen in real life. For example the size of the aquarium is less relative to the size of the flower vase giving one the impression that the depth of the location of the aquarium has not been adequately built in the space.

But all this does not mean that there are perceptual errors arising out of the mental state of the artist.A perfectly “normal” artist may choose to do away with detailed scale-mapping of the objects. So there is nothing in the painting which would suggest the working of a person with a mental health problem.

Man has moved away from the savannahs but the savannahs are still within him

Evolutionary psychology | More news from the savannah | Economist.com 

"…changes concerning animals were significantly easier to detect than those concerning cars. In the most telling comparison, 100% of volunteers noticed the movement of an elephant in the African bush. Only 72% noticed the movement of a minivan in a similar piece of bush. And that was despite the fact that the image of the van was somewhat larger in the photograph than the image of the elephant, and that the minivan was red, not grey.

This highly honed ability to notice animal activity (it applies to small familiar animals, such as pigeons, as well as large unfamiliar ones, such as elephants) argues that an animal-monitoring module is innate in the brain. As, indeed, might be expected. Animals are important: small ones are supper; large ones are best avoided, lest they eat you or trample you to death. In other words, you can take the human out of the savannah. But you cannot take the savannah out of the human."

An interesting piece of research which says that although man has moved away from the wild west plains he has not yet lost his ability to spot animal activity .Extending this further one might say there is a greater chance of your getting killed by a vehicle in the chaos of the Indian traffic than in an African jungle where the elephants may suddenly come charging at you from behind  tall bushes .

Henri Cartier-Bresson -his decisive moment

A Critic at Large: Candid Camera: Reporting & Essays: The New Yorker  

"When I spoke to his widow, Martine Franck—the president of the Henri Cartier-Bresson Foundation, in Paris, and herself a distinguished photographer—she said that her husband in action with his Leica “was like a dancer.” This feline unobtrusiveness led him all over the world and made him seem at home wherever he paused; one trip to Asia lasted three years, ending in 1950, and produced eight hundred and fifty rolls of film. His breakthrough collection, published two years later, was called “The Decisive Moment,” and he sought endless analogies for the sensation that was engendered by the press of a shutter. The most common of these was hunting: “The photographer must lie in wait, watching out for his prey, and have a presentiment of what is about to happen.”

Amusing but looks like the real thing behind Cartier-Bresson’s technique of catching photographable objects. His wife was talking about his most graceful dancer-like movements in the way he moved forward in a crowd and positioned himself and the camera .It was as thought he was a hunter chasing a game .