Male youths as art – did you know this?

The Japan Society (333 E 47 in NYC) sponsored this spring a lecture given by John T. Carpenter “Amusements in a Samurai Mansion: Male Youths as Actors, Escorts, or Outcasts in Early Edo Art”.

This mysterious mention led me to Wiki, where this was revealed:
“Although any person would be clearly classified as a child, wakashū or adult, the timing of both boundaries of the wakashū period were relatively flexible, giving families and patrons the ability to accommodate the development and circumstances of the individual boy.

The concept of wakashū contained several partially overlapping elements: an age category between childhood and adulthood; the social role of a pre-adult or adolescent boy, usually conceived of as a subordinate (student, apprentice or protégé); and the idea of the “beautiful youth”, a suitable target for homosexual desire and the subject of wakashūdo, “the way of youths”. As boys were considered eligible for homosexual liaisons only when they were wakashū, their patrons occasionally delayed their coming of age ceremony beyond socially acceptable limits, leading to legal efforts in 1685 to require all wakashū to undergo their coming of age ceremony by age 25.[3]

Sources such as Ihara Saikaku‘s Nanshoku Ôkagami (“A Great Mirror of Male Love”, 1687) indicate that “in the past” (when is not precisely clear), wakashu were typically “ostentatiously violent, and thus manly,”[2] and that at that time, a young man who was too weak, gentle, or feminine in his manner would find it difficult to find an older samurai with whom to engage in shûdô. This emphasis on martial manliness is somewhat understandable, given the martial nature of life in the Sengoku period, and the idea that wakashû were expected to grow up to become fathers, warriors, and nenja[3] themselves.

Saikaku indicates, however, that by his own time (the Genroku period, 16881704), wakashû came to be valued more for their youth, beauty, and artistic abilities (e.g. in dance, music, and poetry), and less for their physical strength or martial prowess, in conjunction with the rise of the feminization of young actors on the kabuki stage.[4]

Memorial Day Calm… and how to deal with it

This is the only day in my art blogging experience that I have seen only one listing for the entire NYC metro area. The Met and the Guggenheim are open – and it’s no longer raining on the High Line – so get going New Yorkers! there may be no gallery activity – but there’s a big wide empty city out there. Out of towners: parking spots abound on holidazed weekends. On these occasions you’re permitted admission to Fun City…..
Here’s the only event today in the five boroughs:
Repair the World 808 Nostrand Ave Crown Heights exhibition closing: The Other South installations, prints, drawing, and textiles by Buenos Aires based artists from LABA-BA: Laboratorio de Arte y Cultura Judía: Silvania Blasberg, Valeria Budasoff, Myriam Jawerbaum, Mirta Kupferminc, Viviana Romay, Silvia Rubinson, Blanket project group (Valeria Budasoff, Myriam Jawerbaum), Entresuturas group (Viviana Romay, Valeria Budasoff, Myriam Jawerbaum), curated by Mirta Kupferminc 6-8

NYC’s Botanical Gardens: what’s the best?

Brooklyn Botanical Garden is a good first choice. Accessible by subway, there is parking nearby on unmetered side streets.

It’s next to Prospect Park, Brooklyn Museum, and Park Slope. It has a great Japanese garden among a dozen specialized gardens

Smaller means a more manageable visit. It’s more formally organized, a set of Victorian gardens. Result? More integrated into surrounding neighborhoods means more access to shops and especially to reasonably priced eating places in Park Slope or on Atlantic Avenue. This is the same spirit that its neighbor holds, the Brooklyn Museum – notably in their First Saturday events where they throw open the doors to their neighbors from 5-11pm with food, dancing, movies – and of course tours. Overall the two are more an everyday park for residents instead of a destination park with all the expense, crowds, focus on entertainment that entails. Count yourself lucky if you live nearby.

NYBG is more naturally designed, including a stand of the original forest that used to cover all of Manhattan. It has a rock garden, a conifer collection, and a tremendous rose garden with 4000 plants abloom June throughout the summer – a total of 50 special gardens. Its conservatory is far larger than the BBG – a consideration on rainy, cold, windy, snowy days.

NYBG focuses on Great Shows, the train show, orchid show, Chihuly – big themes with lots of entertainment, merchandise and crowds. With 13,000 plants having to be grown & cultivated for a show – with a philosophy of going over the top to attract crowds – the result can be pricey.

Like most other museums & public attractions in NYC NYBG gives a little. The grounds are free all day Wednesday and from 9-12 on Saturday morning. But no entry to the Conservatory where the shows are. Frankly, NYBG is the elephant in the Bronx’s living room: it draws from Manhattan – and apart from providing menial jobs ignores local yokels.

Membership makes economic sense. Entry on weekends is $28. Night shows are currently $35. Four visits recover the cost – and include a few perks. Seniors are $68/88 single/couple. Otherwise it’s $85/110.

Eating can be pricey too. The old cafeteria is now the ritzy Hudson Garden Grill where a ham, egg & cheese sandwich can run you $23 and appetizers range from a salad at $10 to asparagus at $17. Luckily there’s a kiddie snack shack {with beer & wine for parents!) and a pizza hut. Arthur Avenue is not far (187th and Arthur Avenue) but it’s a trek of 1/2 mile across Fordham University’s grounds to get there – but you can get a B&D train at 182-183rd Streets on the Grand Course to get back to the city.

NYBG is not far from Pelham Bay Park, three times the size of Central Park, with many paths and bikeways, right there on the sea. And not far from that is City Island – a piece of NYC history frozen in time.

Whereas BBG is accessible by subway, NYBG is accessible via MetroNorth from Grand Central or 125th, every hour on the hour only, and with a more expensive fare.

Membership at NYBG gets you visiting privileges at the BBG’s Japanese garden and greenhouses.

And of course there is the Queens Botanical  Garden. www.queeensbotanical.org.

There’s also the Staten Island Cultural Center and Botanical Garden on the grounds of Snug Harbor.

Wave Hill is located a few miles from Yankee Stadium. Its Kerlin Overlook gives 180 degree views of the Hudson. They have many programs, a small greenhouse, art shows – and though located in the north Bronx are a fun place to visit – especially if you have a car.

At the far end of brooklyn near the Verazano Bridge is the Narrows Botanical Garden on the Upper Bay in Brooklyn.  http://www.narrowsbg.org

The surprise garden in NYC is the 6BC, located as you’d imagine on 6th Street between B&C Avenues – a throwback from the days of the squatters and squalor of the LES. http://6bc.org Truly a delight especially for the neighbors who keep it going for whom it is an oasis.

And let’s not forget all the pocket parks in Manhattan itself many of which have artificial waterfalls in addition to the abundant sitting area and beautiful design and flowers galore. Plus the atriums especially in midtown but also in the financial district which encourage people to sit, play chess, and have a quiet conversation. An entire book has been written about these – and they prove you don’t have to have hundreds of acres to provide the pleasure and peace that a flower garden offers.

Lastly let’s not forget the promenades, notably the east river promenade especially from 80th Street up and past the bridge to Randall’s Island – itself a bike haven. And the wondrous bike and sports path that starts where the ferry goes to visit the Statue of Liberty all the way up the upper west side – a pleasure path that has kyack rental, trapeze practice, roller blading, biking, and pocket parks along the way.

A postscript: Cherry Blossoms are beautiful in both the BBG and NYBG parks of course but for that don’t forget Branch Brook park [www.branchbrookpark.org] a short 15” trip out the Holland Tunnel – for it has more cherry trees in a 1920s setting than all of Washington D.C: 4000, the largest collection of Japanese flowering trees in one location in the US. Its expanse of 360 acres stretches nearly 4 miles from US Rte 280 in Newark to Mill Street in Belleville

Asia week goes contemporary – and local

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They did it last fall, and they’re doing it again this spring. Depth vs breadth. Eight of NYC’s finest galleries of Asian art will present Asian contemporary art starting with open houses on Friday evening, May 5. This is the perfect New York City answer to having a dozen plus exhibitions sweeping into town for 3-4-5 days, one booth at a time. NYC offers depth, peace, expertise and owners who will not leave town in a few days. No one-shot sales in this city. Long-term relationships – and the backing of galleries with reputations to uphold and defend. Balance out the bombardment of booths with the serene, couth, long-term comfort of this city’s Asian art galleries.

Here they are, most on the Upper East Side, a half dozen from 82nd to 73rd Art, another on 58th and on of the best in Chelsea. Enjoy. Cherish. And learn something.

Now and Then at Kang Contemporary Korean Art, will feature the works of contemporary artists Ik-Joong Kang, Minjung Kim, and Seungmo Park, each of whom will explore in their own idiom the philosophical and spiritual experiences emanating from Korea’s rich cultural traditions, juxtaposed against a contemporary narrative delving into the human costs of a nation in the throes of rapid modernization. Other featured artists include Jongsook Kim, Lee Woorim, Seongmin Ahn, Suyeon Na and Dave Kim. Says Peter Kang, “The works by the artists are organized to reveal the connections between the history of various recognizable Korean art forms and the more global view reflected in the imagery and techniques of the artists on display.” (9 East 82nd Street, 3rd Floor).

Michael Goedhuis, here from London, presents Changing China: Contemporary Ink Painting, featuring 15 new works, by Chinese artists who are responding to the changing political, social and psychological landscape of China in reaction to the emergence of Trump and America’s new stance in the world. One of the exhibition’s highlights is a major work by Qin Feng, which was created to be part of his major exhibition and performance, Waiting for Qin Feng, at the Venice Biennale, in the San Giorgio Maggiore Monastery. “This work is one of the works that symbolizes his passionate desire for freedom.” (At Traum Safe, 1078 Madison Avenue). 81/82

Kaikodo LLC, Twenty Years of Ink Art, presents new works by Luo Jianwu, Xu Jianguo, Mansheng Wang, Lin Yan, Zhang Hong (Arnold Chang), and Qiu Mai (Michael Cherney), as well as paintings by Lin Guocheng,Wai Pongyu, Tseng Yuho (Betty Ecke), Zhu Daoping, Wucius Wong, Wu Qiang, Li Xubai, and Huang Zhongfang (Harold Wong). Taking center stage is the monumental masterpiece titled Clear, Wondrous, Ancient, Strange, by Luo Jianwu, which he took 8 years to complete, transforming the traditional hanging scroll format into a contemporary work of installation art. Says Carol Conover, managing director of Kaikodo, “Today the contemporary world in Chinese art is very rich and diverse and there are far more people trained and interested in the field. We trust this exhibition will appeal to them as well as to collectors of contemporary Western art.” (74 East 79th Street, Suite 14B).

Beyond Kutani: Innovations in Form and Color at Joan B. Mirviss Ltd, the first-ever joint exhibition which showcases two celebrated and innovative ceramic masters, Takegoshi Jun and Nakamura Takuo, both of whom are inspired by traditional kutani ware. “We are proud to present the work of these clay masters,” says Joan Mirviss. “This exhibition, featuring over 40 new works created expressly for this occasion, will highlight these two ceramists’ unique and divergent aesthetics, both developed in response to time-honored kutani artistic traditions but cast in very contemporary modes, featuring both functional and sculptural forms, all boldly decorated with polychrome under-glazing and overglaze enamels,” Ms. Mirviss added. One of the standout pieces is Nakamura Takuo’s Standing Sculpture with Clouds and Dragon Design, 2015 which stands over 57 inches x 19 5/8 inches. (39 East 78th Street, Suite 401).

Selections: Modern Indian Masters at the Navin Kumar Gallery features paintings by 15 preeminent modern Indian painters including F. N. Souza, M. F. Husain, S. H. Raza, Ram Kumar, Akbar Padamsee, K. H. Ara, and B. Prabha. Their art ranges from abstract, figurative, surreal, to landscape, and the collection of works by these artists shows how they pushed the boundaries and plumbed the depths of what art could be, both from Indian and global perspectives. One of the exhibition’s highlights is Head, painted by Francis Newton Souza, one of the pioneers of modern Indian art. Thick black brushstrokes over layered oil paint delineate the disfiguration of form – arrows through the neck, and eyes towards the top of the forehead force the viewer to contend with an unapologetically honest message about the nature of self, but one that nonetheless charges the spirit with vitality. (24 East 73rd Street, Suite 4F).

At Scholten Japanese Art, the provocative theme is nudes and tattoos including nudes with tattoos by Paul Binnie, who recently completed a series of prints called A Hundred Shades of Ink of Edo on which he spent eleven years, from 2004-2015. Says Katherine Martin: “The complete series of 10 is the inspiration for the show, and all 10 will be on display, along with related compositions.” One of the standouts is Hiroshige’s Edo, 2015, a woodblock print from a limited edition of 100. “We will also include at least 20 original drawings and watercolor and oil paintings of related subjects, many of which have never before been exhibited or offered for sale,” adds Ms. Martin, managing director of the gallery. (145 West 58th Street, Suite 6D).

Onishi Gallery presents Playful Perfection: The Artist’s Imaginary Universe, which combines contemporary ceramics and sculpture with street art paintings. “My aim is to showcase cutting-edge contemporary artists and trends from Japan,” says Nana Onishi of her namesake gallery. Ms. Onishi will feature paintings by street artist Shun Sudo, the ceramics of Ito Sekisui, a 14th generation potter and National Living Treasure, the work of Tomoko Konno, part of a new generation of female ceramicists working in Japan, and the other-worldly sculpture of NAOYA. (521 West 26th Street).

Pictures from the art scene

A tidal wave of art is about to hit NYC

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Fourteen major art fairs are about to mashup on the Manhattan landscape. The best coverage is summarized here: https://news.artnet.com/market/your-go-to-guide-for-art-fairs-during-frieze-week-878066. The big fairs of course give you the world – but in some ways they are art carpetbaggers. And they’re here to make a big splash so they can make a big sale – and skip town. Pay attention to the free fairs towards the end of the artnet.com list – one fair is women-owned showing works of women and gay works. There’s substantial representation from Africa. There’s even  a fair for artists without a gallery to promote them – self-represented artists. In other words this does not have to be a binge for the rich and famous. There is something  for everyone in this cornucopia.

But keep your eye out on http://www.LarryQualls.blogspot.com for New York City’s response to the invasion. Larry’s going to have his work cut out for him! I suggest you start on Friday night with those folks who brought you the NYC Counterfoil to TEFAF in the Fall – the local Asia Week galleries. (See asiaweekny.com) In particular eight NYC galleries are also bringing contemporary art that is far more substantial than can be crowded into a Fair booth. (More detail on them will follow in my next post.) Moreover, since 7 of the 8 are on the upper east side just off Mad Ave you can devote yourself to an in-depth plunge simply not possible in a frenzied fair like Frieze – and it should be remarked that Frieze is out on Randall’s Island. Just don’t ignore Onishi Gallery in Chelsea; they have shown some spectacular work this year, first pottery from a National Living Treasure from Japan – and just recently incredibly creative and fun work in porcelain from sunny Spain. The virtue of NYC’s galleries is depth – and they will still be here to keep you fed a rich diet of art year round after the art circuses have skipped town.

New York Art is a-bloom

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A glance at the http://www.LarryQualls.blogspot.com blog – the gold standard for what’s happening in art & culture in NYC, published each day early at 7am – reveals the abundance of art that’s a-flowering today as April nears its end. Remember: today MoMA is free from 4-8 thanks to Uniqlo, the Morgan Library is free 7-9, and the Whitney is free from 7-10. Here’s an excerpt from Larry’s blog selected for quality and nearness to most transportation:

Essex Flowers 19 Monroe St exhibition: Tatiana Kronberg Exposure 7-9

Able Fine 14B Orchard St exhibition: Rim Chae Chanson de la forêt 6-8

Ashok Jain 58 Hester St exhibition: Spring Flow Gunther Borst, Marcia Gomes, Emily Halpern, Ai Wen Kratz, Annette Mewes Thoms, Elling Reitan 6-8

Uniqlo 88 Crosby St (546 Broadway) product launch: KAWS UTxKAWSxPeanuts 4-6 KAWS will be in attendance

Pop-Up 116 E 7 exhibition: SUPERnatural Ange Bell, Emma Fineman, Eben Haines, Christian Fuchs, Yi Hsing, Sipho Mabona, Daniel Ochoa, Erik Jones, David Fung, Lou Ros, Ado Leopold, Elise Wehle, Gregory Jacobsen, William P Immer, Claire Shegog, Neryl Walker, Nikolina Kovalenko, Jann Cheifitz, Nick Runge, Viktor Freso, Robert Pokorny, Peter Buchler, Patrick Earl Hammie, Wendelin Wohlgemuth, Elizabeth Wagg, Frances Scott, Karim Hamid, curated by Karim Hamid 7-10

New School 66 Fifth Ave Parsons MFA Photography Open Studios Zeshan Ahmed, Sophie Barkham, Maryanne Braine, Siho Chang, Michael Difeo, Arash Fewzee, Amanda Field, Shannon Finnell, Christian Gangitano, Hannah Harley, Maria Del Mar Hernandez Gil De Lamadrid, Lindsay Hill, Guaier Huang, Monika Izing, Annaleena Keso, Charles Park, Sebastian Matias Perinotti, Jenna Petrone, Isadora Rezende Waddington, Rowena Rubio, Ariana Sarwari, Abhishek Sharma, Richard Wade, Runzhong Wang, Sarah Wang, Eva Zar, Jinming Zhong, Mengting Zhou 6-8

Whitney Asad Raza’s Weekend Guests: Rafay Rashid: Jungle Badtameez 8-10 museum admisssion; exhibition: Where We Are: Selections from the Whitney’s Collection, 1900–1960 NOTE: A brilliant show derived entirely from the collections of the museum, with particularly relevatory works by James Castle, James Van Der Zee, Elizabeth Catlett, and even Daniel Chester French; it proves that encyclopedic museums can create major exhibitions without the need to cater to the whims of the day with loaned works.

Leon Tovar 152 W 25 exhibition: Jesús Rafael Soto Dans son jus 6-8

Planthouse 55 W 28 exhibition: Home Winds Benjamin Swett & Heather Woods Broderick 6-8

dm contemporary 39 E 29 exhibition: Steven Baris 6-8

57W57ARTS 57 W 57 exhibition: Michael Voss Paintings with Names & Related Drawings; Tracy Grayson; Daniel Wenk Recent Tapings; Sean Sullivan West/End/Blues 6-9

Sotheby’s 1334 York Ave National YoungArts Foundation presents the YoungArts New York Visual Arts, Design & Photography Exhibition: YoungArts New York 2017 8pm free reservation required Eventbrite

PS Just a note of explanation that might help you. It’s a great idea to register yourself on Eventbrite. Then when you see an event like this that requires a reservation via Eventbrite you can just sign in, put the name of the event in the search bar, click, and it’ll pop right up. And if you’ve a google calendar it’ll automatically appear there.

Onishi gives us Porcelain that’s local, unique

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    Who’d have thought that a once-in-a-lifetime gallery experience would occur in Manhattan this year? Well, it has – and you can experience it month after month – at the Onishi gallery of art in Chelsea. This erstwhile gallery owner does many favors to us in NYC – and to the arts of Japan – and in her new show to demonstrating the wonders of Spanish porcelain.
    Her last show, that of Ito Sekisui V, one of 75 national living treasures of Japan, has excellent written all across it. She not only had the Japanese diplomatic community out in full force, perhaps to enjoy the excellent food from Nobu, but she had the Curator of Asian Art at the Met give a talk explaining the mechanics behind the mysteries of this magnificent ceramic art from the island of Sado in Japan.
    The secrets are many. And they are the reason why Ito Sekisui was named a national living treasure 15 years ago. They lie in his island’s clays, notably its yellow and red clays – which when fired end up orange and red. Another secret is that his works are never glazed. But the big secret is that this artist keeps evolving –  especially after being named a national living treasure. And we saw the latest results of this evolution in the Onishi Gallery’s last show – in three ways. In the first we saw pottery that looks painted, with red and orange flowers appearing on what seems to be a textile surface. As the Met’s curator explained – after spending a week with Japan’s national living treasure – he had rolled the different clays into a kind of Noel roll. He then sliced it and fitted the resulting flower-like images into the black support clay making incredibly artistic shapes – all totally under the artist’s control.  Not content with this he then made ceramics – with the safety net of glaze removed – purely with the red and black clays fired outdoors so  that the element of chance could play its part. And  then beyond that he took clays with the stone of the island embedded and made massive, brutal, wonderfully anarchic and natural sculptural clay creations that are his latest evolution into creativity. This is the wonderfully crazy and logical thing about national living treasures like Ito Sekisui: he’s 73, and feels he must continuously create new techniques, work with new material, and produce new kinds of work.
     I saw at the opening that Onishi shows talent of Japanese artists of all ages. Whatever is done here is is local, working with different clays, and working out of different local mythologies. Her reaction was warming to the heart: interested, excited, intrigued. Who knows? perhaps Onishi’s 30 year old artist who I introduced to the Met curator that evening might be a national living treasure in 40 years. All things are possible in Japanese art… why? because the traditions and training and recognition are strong – and its artisans and artists believe fervently in what they are doing – and their feet a firming standing on a grand tradition.
    All this makes me impatient for tonight’s opening of Onishi’s show of Spanish porcelains.

Marlborough has yet another winner

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Sacks is one of those artists who sculpts his paintings by building them from accretions of wood, metal, cardboard – but the winning touch is achieved from the intimate details of everyday life – shrouds, nightshirts, work clothes, buttons and burlap – not to mention fishing nets, embroidery. Paint becomes the great connector. The crowd showed obvious delight – especially in the pieces with blank space to breathe in. The mammoth pieces are covered inch by inch, side to side – and this not only takes your breath away it quickly numbs your vision and ability to digest it all. Mercy, Peter! These huge creations are obviously destined for museums – and we’re all glad to have the human sized pictures for everyday consumption.

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Even at MAD miracles do happen

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    Went spur of the moment to MAD – New York’s Museum of Art and Design on Columbus Circle –  to the pop-up jewelry show they mounted today. Found a few exhibitors to be of interest. And if you’d do what I did you’d find many more to be of interest to you.
    What did I do? Cherchez l’histoire! Look for the story. And if you ask leading questions and have an inquisitive spirit you’ll find behind every artist there is a story to be told.
    Take the couple from Greece, Labros & Semeli, with those languorous luscious swirls of gold, summoning up the intense sun and sky of Greece. Their gold pieces owe as much to  the air they enclose as to their weight in gold. They sum up Greece in their swirls.
    Then what about Helene Prime of Paris? Massive hammered metal covered in gold, married with stone. Only in France could such things be made, so bold, so massive.
    Let’s not forget Konrad Laimer from the north of  Italy. He marries pearl like drops of snow-like ceramic to his long thin strands of gold. Enough said. Yet another story told.
    Giulia Barela of Rome brings a mature, hard look coupled in a marriage of bronze and gold. Lost-wax casting is her technique, bronze her love of sculpture, silver for its delight in light, and gold – needs no explanation. A law degree helps, as does growing up amidst bejewelled women. Let her be your guide.
    Lastly, Aurum, by Boubjorg from Iceland, evoking directly with gold delicate flowers what happens in Iceland as its winters fade and nature once more fights the noble battle for life. Volcanic black also plays a part. And there is truly a tale to be told here.

A Ukrainian master of sculptured color

Mykhailo Deyak: Recent Works March 17 – April 2. I’ll let the Ukraine Institute whose palace on 79th street and fifth avenue get credit for bringing this Living Artist onto the concrete pedestals of New York. What a fireball with color he is! His later work is three-dimensional, popping off the canvas. He is definitely a painter turned sculptor. I shall include here photographs of his huge work which has up to now been only shown in Europe. He makes color into an actor on the stage – and makes color and texture dance as no dance company has ever imagined. In fact one small annoyance is that someone decided to fence in three of his Great Floods of color with black tape. That should be easily dispensed with. I knew I’d lucked out when he opened his phone to show me the gargantuan creations – living creature of color – that have invaded the grand exhibition spaces that only Europe still offers. The high culture setting of the Ukraine Institute is truly a great place to see this work. Please hope this Living Artist stays for now in the Khusts region he comes from. Let him simply derive his color and atavistic constructions of color-come-to-life from the wilderness surrounding him. The translator he had at his disposal did him aa superb service. She waited for the whole thought to come out – and gave me a considered response. This man knows what hes doing. Hes courageous. Hes strong. He brought to mind the Picasso who had yet to move to Paris. I know Deyak will – but I hope he delays the move and instead visits Paris and all the other world capitals who need so desperately the art he creates. He seems still above it all, simply in love with art – capricious, and artful – full of art – and all that promises much to come.