A walk with the giants… @ the Rijksmuseum

The works of Rembrandt were a fascination to me ever since I had the opportunity to see a documentary of his works on one of friend’s house, six years back. Seeing the hyper-realism of each brush strokes on screen was one thing and seeing the paintings in person, packed with such drama was completely another experience! Rembrandt van Rijn (1606-69) was a genius who had in his brush light for paint! His most radical use of light to emphasis the subject (fully evident in the Night Watch) and his most dynamic compositions held me in its sway.

The Conspiracy of Claudius Civilis, 1661-62


Rembrandt A
Portrait of man in Oriental garment, 1635
Rembrandt C
Old Woman reading – Prophetess Hannah, 1631
Rembrandt B
Portrait of Maria Trip, 1639

I was observing Rembrandt using the position of the painting to suggest the composition; light to signify the subject ( the hand and book in the Woman Reading, the captain and the little girl in The Night Watch); dark shadows to fuse the surroundings highlighting the subject and making sure they do not some in its way; and brush strokes and paint thickness (as in the turban of the Man in oriental garment) to suggest texture.

Rembrandt D
The Night Watch, 1642
The Night Watch, study on composition

If Rembrandt created a drama through his paintings, there was Johannes Vermeer (1632-75) who created a very different kind of tension in his paintings. Usually within the stability of a square canvas, he paints a seemingly tranquil moment from everyday life, only the centre of focus betraying the tension around which the whole painting revolves. Vermeer’s brilliance was in creating this tug of war between calm and force that charges the painting with an emotion that extends beyond the canvas. If Rembrandt was enacting a drama through his dynamism, Vermeer was showing us a drama in its seemingly still contemplative but highly charged paintings!

Vermeer 1
The Milkmaid, 1657-58

The works of Pieter de Hooch (1629-84), first introduced to me by my design professor, appealed to me greatly for their architectural content – the careful orchestration of overlapping frames and layering. Architecturally, the overlapping of frames and axes, a concept favorite to Le Corbusier and many other architects, create a richness of experience. The works of Pieter de Hooch is a study in that richness especially his proportion of the frames in simple ratios and the frames themselves overlapping with each other successively creating a spiral.

Pieter Hooch 1
Mother’s Duty, 1658-60
Pieter Hooch 2
Man handing a letter to a woman, 1670
Rijks museum
The wonderful world of the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Having not completed even one-third of the museum in a whole day, I left as one of the last to leave the museum. So I had to hop on to another great party location – the Van Gogh museum during Friday evenings, with drinks parties, DJs and drawing events all within the museum, alongside Van Gogh!

The atmosphere inside the Van Gogh museum was so unlike a typical museum. If only all museums can inculcate such an atmosphere of ease and pleasure! Also the recognition and the culture of museum as a place of learning and discourse is an idea that I would like to take back with me. Hours went like minutes as I was absorbed into the multiple worlds the canvas enticed me to enter.

I had a peep into the fantastical world of some of the great paintings ever produced! Not all the time in the world is enough for me to satisfy my hunger for admiring such works of beauty. As hungry and greedy as I am for such experiences, many such visits will continue. In the works that I’ve seen, I didn’t see paint on canvas but the brush wielded to create emotions that are timeless!


Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, 29 January 2016


The man who loved much…van Gogh

My recent visit to the van Gogh museum in Amsterdam has in fact left me speechless with such a positive effect. While I have always been inspired by the works of Vincent van Gogh, to see them in real has had an effect that words could hardly describe.

Some of the emotions I’ve tried to capture, but words fail me. I am limited by my language trying to describe the works of a man who saw the world in its most beautiful and vivid self. Of course, the digital reproductions themselves do no justice to the actual colours that shine in all their brilliance! (none of the images that I saw prepared me for the actual experience!)

Some words with which I tried to capture the experience in futility,

Almond Blossom, 1890

“Here I am,
I stand before the works of a man who loved life as much as it can be possibly loved,
so much so that his love, earning and pain seeps out of his canvas to hold me in a heartbreakingly beautiful trance.
Here is a man who painted love in all its innocent beauty.
Van Gogh!
Oh! how would it be to live inside one of his paintings?!”

The Pink Peach Tree, 1888

His was a world that added beauty to beauty, a different more sensitive way of looking at the world around. Each brush stroke, I could feel, was a splash of emotion.

Wheat field with a Reaper, 1889

“The beauty of van Gogh’s paintings are so intense such that its beauty was radiating as the golden rays of the Sun at dawn that made everyone, everything basking in its radiance as lovely and beautiful as the paintings themselves”.

Garden of the Asylum, 1889

What am I seeing in front of me? Emotions! Not views or visions, but emotions and feelings given birth by brush and paint! Before these paintings I stand naked and innocent!

Wheat fields under thunderclouds, 1890

“I could almost be there, inside the painting. The storm brewing. I could feel the wind unsettling the dust, ravaging the wheat. A lone bird hastily flying past to her nest and a distant silhouette of a farmer hurrying to his hut all the more accentuates the loneliness of the position.

I could feel the loneliness of van Gogh himself deeply affecting my heart. There are no signs of the peasants whom he admired so much. Is this paradise? ”


01_Field with crowa
Field with crows, 1890 – one of his last paintings!


“…. And it does me good to do what’s difficult. That doesn’t stop me having a tremendous need for, shall I say the word — for religion — so I go outside at night to paint the stars, and I always dream a painting like that…”

Vincent van Gogh,  letter to Theo van Gogh, 29 September 1888

Self portrait with straw hat, 1887

“…. and up from my rotting corpse, trees and plants and flowers will grow,  

and the Sun will warm them and I will be in them,

and nothing will perish, 

that is immortality”

-Edvard Munch, 1890

van Gogh museum, Amsterdam, 24 January 2016

Image References

First days… Eindhoven

I can say that Ahmedabad was instrumental in directing my imagination towards Europe. Europe has captured my fascination ever since I had the opportunity to listen to Doshi sir narrating his experiences of Paris, the posters of Rome and Palladian villas in Sangath, the international atmosphere and above all the movie ‘Midnights in Paris’ !  Finally I was travelling to the land of my dreams, a change ! If I am to be honest, it was a shock beyond description finding oneself in a small city where the streets were empty if not for the occasional car that would strictly follow the traffic lights; glass buildings with no signs of life either inside nor on its outside and above all the deafening silence! I would yearn for some loud conversation, if not simply any conversation! When on rare occasions it happens, I cling on to it as I would for my dear life! Orderliness and silence are indeed sharp weapons. I even allowed my mind to take consolation that I can go back home for the summer (which was only coming from my desperation and it is not the same now). But as it would turn out to be, there has indeed never been any moment to think of silence thereafter. In fact I have never been kept so busy for such prolonged period of time in my life. I must admit it’s not easy for me considering I’m a person who could enjoy the moments between the each ‘tick-tock’ of a clock but at the same time I cannot deny that I am beginning to enjoy this phase – like how one would enjoy a tiring exercise!

But at the same time I am stealing moments here and there to enjoy certain hidden treasures that everyday life here offers!

Eindhoven, 08 December 2015


A symphony in gray… Köln

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It wasn’t the best of  days to visit Köln. The sky was overcast, its grayness blanketing the stones of the city. The cold ruthlessly penetrating my body, keeping comfort as elusive as the wind. Maybe that is how Köln is supposed to be experienced. I could not bring myself to imagine myself experiencing Köln in any different way. It brought me to experience the materiality of Köln, the stone that which was molded into massiveness of the Dom, into the severity of the Romanesque churches, into the immaculate patterns of cobbles that made each fallen autumn leaves stand out as flaming feathers. Anyone who comes to Köln, first meets the Dom – its massiveness unfathomable. One wonders if it is the radiance of the bluish gray stone of the Dom that paints the city in a hue that makes it memorable.

Words will fail me if I, even as mush as, try to describe the experience that was Köln. It is a symphony in shades of gray. Köln could not be  experienced better if not on a cold and gray overcast day. It is this climatic atmosphere which compliments the atmosphere of the place. The place molded by the severity of stone. Maybe I was in the best of the days in Köln. The day in which Köln was meant to be seen.

But I can see how unjust I am in being unable to fully express the experience of that day. But how could I if it all is as fleeting as it were in a dream? I feel ill-equipped to tackle these experiences !


Köln, 28 October 2015


All I could remember was a dream …

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Words, photographs, sketches will all fall hopelessly short of trying to describe this place. Maybe I wasn’t even there. Maybe it was a dream I had. Maybe it was a place that you could only be in your dreams. All I could remember of the place were those soft lights reflected like a million little lanterns in the cobblestones that were caressed all day long by the soft drizzle.  The twisting streets that took me through unanswered doors. The streets lit softly by the windows that offer a peep into the unassuming household making art out of everyday objects. The incessant sound of people gaily conversing which the air carried, an alley explored to find a cozy restaurant that’s tucked in its compactness. Fairies walking the streets, couples holding hands softly, the sound of hard footsteps echoing trough the cobbled street and the hidden gardens set silently along the canal’s edge. I was like a ghost, wandering silently lest I should disturb this harmony. A girl as fair as an angel tying her bike to those finely crafted bridges; a person hurrying into the alley to join some friend after work; a couple contemplating the display on a shop closed for the day imagining some wonderful future. Fleeting emotions that will haunt me on many a silent nights.

Maybe it was all a dream! Maybe I never moved an inch from my bed!

Utrecht, 07 november 2015

Hello world!

Who am I?

I am an observer, an observer of the world around me, trying to find beauty in simple and extraordinary things alike. I am a dreamer. For me, hidden within plain sight are layers of meaning, interpretation and more beauty.

This blog is a tool for me to document my time in Europe, the impressions the different places have on me, and above all an attempt to capture the emotions that flow through me during these travels.

I try to use this blog also as a medium to think aloud on matters concerning architecture and the like.

Long after my tryst with Europe has ended, this blog has the additional burden of having to serve myself as a reminder of the time that I had here. So pardon the very subjective writing!!