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Friday, April 29, 2011

Eye for art

Amidst too much too see around an artist draws only one theme: eyes

Colors in chaos? Or lines in a labyrinth? Art lovers could interpret these sketches as their eyes tell them. MV John, who was featured in Foote, Cone & Belding's (FCB) anniversary poster in 1998, would not reveal what the overflowing eyes in his drawings are meant to be. Eye him with another perspective, what made him focus on human eyes, he would reply without a wink: 'That's a point of view'.

John's infatuation with human eyes began while he was working at FCB, Kuwait for 7 years in early 90's. The FCB photo mosaic poster, designed as part of the US ad agency's 125th anniversary, featured 1302 company employees from 73 countries. Among the myriad photos was John, now 49, who marveled at the amount of information and images that were cascading around that time. He wanted something unique to be part of the image revolution that was taking place on the Internet. As a trained photographer and artist his eyes stuck on the everyday scenes and sights, eventually focusing on the most used human organ in a voyeuristic world, the eye.

From then on John’s sketch pens, acrylic and oil media saw sleepless nights resulting in a panorama of eyes-sketches against the backdrop of human abstract figures. Deep, doleful, beady, bubbly and watery eyes. Now over 100 such eye series drawings, some of them adorning his living room in his Salmiya flat, John looks brooded over the ever increasing bustle of life around him. He lives the life of a bachelor after his family left for India for his children's higher education. Between being a businessman and an artist, he is happy, he said, to use time creatively, without eying a market or publicity for his artwork. “I’ve been an observer all my life,” he said.

True. This interview did not go a easy as a stroke. John looked at me more than he talked. He spoke more with his wide, red and deep eyes. In the third sitting he said, “Most of my drawings are black and white because our eyes are black and white”.

Recipient of Al-Anba award, John has played key roles in the advertising field in Kuwait before he started his own enterprise, Al-Arab United Trading and Contracting Company. John's creative energy does not stop at his eye series sketches. He has produced an Indian ghazal songs album, a rare track to tread in music industry. The songs, portraying expat life, are penned by India's highest literary award Jnanapith award winner ONV Kurupp, among others. The online brand directory is another endeavor. Named, the website is a window to the world of business brands with logos, links and sites attached. Another online attempt is an online gallery in the making dedicated to any artist who wants to tell the world about his or her art. Artists will have the facility to upload images of works which are then shown to the world for sale. "I'll get only the commission," John said. "But it's not for business, it's for artists who cannot find their space in the world, like me."

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