My wife Sandhya and I heard a collective gasp as we walked into this room last month at the Rijksmuseum, the most visited museum in the Netherlands.
They were all staring at a giant Rembrandt painting, 14 ½’ x12’, the famous “Night Watch” and for a moment we were lost in its grand story as it transported us to another era. We barely heard our guide at a distance say ” it’s so valuable, that in case of a fire or an emergency, it slips into the ground to a concealed vault” and that a “disparaging comment from Rembrandt’s protégé about this painting, brought about Rembrandt’s downfall!”
However, what struck me were the school children in front of the painting. They knew all the answers to the questions that their teacher asked; about the prominence given to the little girl through brilliant use of light, the inside out lighting of the painting (from the little girl outwards), the way the room lighting was conceived (as seen on the top right to simulate the North light) and how the Night Watch is actually much brighter and became nightish due to the collection of sediment over the years, and so on! These kids were streets ahead of us!
To me, this is the exposure we don’t pay much attention to, in our linear-logical and boring method of learning. Not just art, but also connecting visually at first hand with our history by going to our museums or visiting so many of our landmarks and mingling with the people of our country to understand our grand history, deep culture and the beauty of our different peoples. We would have been much more understanding and tolerant of each other. With the adroit mix of logical science and creative arts we can think out of the box and come up with ideas that are solutions to various situations that confronts us everyday.
The Photography: To create this story, I moved back from the students to draw in the couple on the right so that I can get more depth in the picture. I included the converging ceilings and the gold statue at the junction on the top to emphasize the 3 dimensional aspect of the image at the right 1/3 section of the composition. The color temperatures were warmer near the painting and it splayed onto the ground. The people were in a cooler color temperature that came from the skylight at the top.
I still needed balance and that happened when the man in red casually sauntered in before the couple on the right moved away.