Raza through the lens of Code
This article is a gist of my experience of recreating the famous painting by S.H. Raza- Nani by using the coding powerhouse, p5.js.
Under the mentorship of Rasagy Sharma
As a part of an academic module of creative coding at NID, Bengaluru; my peers and I had an amazing opportunity to try our hands at coding using p5.js.
Before we jumped into how I(who’d have never ever ever in her wildest dream would have thought of “actually” coding let alone enjoying it!) ended up absolutely enjoying this module; I would like to give you a little about how I ended up being intimidated by code in the first place.
Numbers and I in general have an old grudge against each other. I was a kid who dreaded math and eventually numbers started making me dizzy. Somehow I managed to get decent grades in school! ….Pheww! I then got into design for my undergraduate degree and my world had never been so amazing without numbers since then!
Fast forward my life 6 years into design and midway through my master’s program at NID, turns out numbers are back in my life and this time they’re here to stay!
So what choice did I have? (Believe me, I did explore the possibility of running away. Does not work:( !)
Soooo…..I decided to give my best shot at learning code.
Fortunately, Rasagy who was mentoring us all; made it quite easy to navigate.
Breaking the entire process into bite-sized nuggets for everyone to understand; we went from starting from basic geometric compositions to recreating an interactive recreation of a famous painting in 2 weeks span. The sprint of exercises created momentum for us to explore various functions and interactions leading to the final painting.
I choose to recreate S.H. Raza’s “Nani” Painting.
About S.H. Raza:
Sayed Haider Raza is one of the most prominent and groundbreaking Indian painters of his generation.
Born in 1922 in Madhya Pradesh, India, Raza studied painting at the Sir J.J. School of Art.
After receiving a French Government scholarship, he travelled to Paris in 1950 to study at the École Nationale des beaux-arts. In 1956, Raza was awarded the Prix de la Critique in Paris and was exhibited in both India and abroad.
He became a founding member of the Bombay Progressive Artists’ Group, which endeavoured to develop a modernist art language and bring about a resurgence in the Indian art world.
He worked on oil and acrylics which highlighted Indian ethnography and incorporated the Indian concepts of space and time, which was a hugely appreciated by art lovers worldwide, and especially the French.
Raza often used concentric circles and geometric patterns which referenced the Tantric ideologies of Hinduism and Buddhism, while his representational paintings often depicted landscapes and urban scenes both in France and India.
He was known as the “Bindu” artist for using Indian symbols in his modernist paintings.
In Sanskrit, the word ‘Bindu’ literally means point, or dot depicting the point of all creation; the source of space, time and consciousness.
In 1981, India awarded Raza the Padma Shri, which is given to recognize distinguished service to the nation.
“My work is my own inner experience and involvement with the mysteries of nature and form which is expressed in colour, line, space and light.”
I was introduced to Raza’s paintings during my undergraduate program at NIFT, Mumbai. I was drawn to its depth and simplicity. One thing that NID taught me was to play with your strength; especially when it’s not your turf. Geometry being one of such tools, I decided to give recreating Raza’s Painting “Nani” in P5.JS.
This painting, including space, circles, women, grace and Bindu artists has brought it all together. There is no random placement of accents or colour but a thoughtful representation of his thoughts.
About My Recreation:
In order to understand the painting, I tried to look deeper into Raza’s life and the elements he used to express his thoughts.
The challenge while recreating the painting was to replicate its hand-drawn rawness of it. Even though being geometric; the paintings had beautiful inaccuracies that made them stand out and break the pattern like the look of it.
Since our main objective was to understand the tool and its possibilities and complexities of it; I decided to leave this attribute behind and stick with a structure that is geometrically accurate.
Starting with making the static version of the painting; made it easier to figure out how to approach the interactive paintings later.
With my limited knowledge of the tool; I first started creating elements with less standardisation. With more hours into the painting; I realized that I needed efficient ways to create repetitive patterns. That’s when I started using complex elements like loops; conditions & arrays.
Things I focused on:
- Creating a calming ripple effect with the Bindu;
- Embedding a sound to add to the interactive experience;
- Using loops to create a repeating pattern;
- Exploring colour changing in a controlled manner.
The Bindu is the hero element of his artworks; it is emphasised in the interactive version.
Static Version of the Painting:
Interactive Version of the Painting:
To see the editable code, click here: LINK
All in All:
Recreating a powerful painting with an equally powerful tool like p5.js was one rollercoaster ride. Learning different functions and their potential changed my perspective on coding. It is fun and I look forward to writing some fun codes and micro-interactions in the future.
About Raza: www.christies.com
About the painting: www.indianexpress.com