In the corner of Vincent Van Gogh’s Starry Night, is the moon, facing away, as if ready to exit the frame. This very moon is the centrepiece of Tabrez Alam’s work of art. The cheesecake yellow backdrop is embellished with the silhouette of Elliot carrying ET on his bicycle, riding across the sky — and in so, recreating the poster of Steven Spielberg’s legendary movie, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial.
It is the first post on the 19-year-old’s Instagram account, @tabrezthird, where he recreates popular movie posters, and occasionally songs and TV shows, with a classical painting, generally Impressionist, as the background. Having started in May, Tabrez now has over 14,000 followers, and has made 113 posts.
On his Insta grid, Raj Kapoor and Nargis take shelter under an umbrella, against a Cafe Terrace at Night; the six F.R.I.E.N.D.S walk along — not in Central Park — but the Park Scene as painted by Yves Ganne; the Little Prince and his fox, sit in Claude Monet’s Poppy Fields.
This fascination with blending art and cinema started earlier this summer for Tabrez, with an introduction into the life and times of Vincent Van Gogh. “I’d seen the oil paint animation Loving Vincent, watched Benedict Cumberbatch play him in Van Gogh: Painted with Words, and Willem Dafoe play him in At Eternity’s Gate. It made me want to see more of his work,” he says.
His brush with early Impressionist work continued: “What I liked about Van Gogh and Monet was that there was no centre piece in their works. Every part of the canvas had little details that draw you in. You’re not supposed to look at any one thing,” he says.
Meanwhile, closer home
- The past few weeks have seen artist Charles Britto take social media by storm with his unique ‘Kalakkis’ (mash-ups). He combines pictures of iconic scenes and actors from South Indian and world cinema with Impressionist and Renaissance art. The mash-ups see scenes superimposed on to the paintings which serve as a backdrop to the scenes. The pictures and paintings blend seamlessly, offering uncanny, new visuals. The idea started with Charles chancing upon a picture of the late actress Silk Smitha on her birthday. He decided to combine the black and white picture of the actress on to Vincent Van Gogh’s Wheat Field with Cypresses. With good reception to his work that has since been shared widely on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, Charles has produced more ‘Kalakkis’. Some examples include the iconic screaming scene from the Tamil thriller Adhey Kangal set to the background of Edvard Munch’s Scream, a shot from Pariyerum Perumal of Pariyan and his dog Karuppi part of Caspar David Friedrich’s Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog and a scene from Parasakthi with Sivaji as part of Van Gogh’s Starry Night. The artwork features pithy captions of the name of the movie and year of release along with the name of the artwork and the year it was made.
Like for many, Starry Night was his first inspiration. “I was looking at the moon, and it just reminded me of the moon scene in ET,” he said. The second time, Starry Night made a reappearance, this time as a canvas for Masaan’s Vicky Kaushal.
The colours on the paintings reminded him of certain scenes from songs, movies and TV shows he liked. “You know how a certain song reminds you of a certain colour?” he asks. I shake my head no, but he goes on. “That’s how it works in my head. The colours recreate emotions.”
Though earlier he would first stumble upon paintings, and then associate them to a movie, now he does the opposite too. He sometimes takes movie requests from his followers, and finds a painting that would suit it. “I don’t have much knowledge about art,” he insists. “I go searching for paintings, read about them, find other similar artists and their recommended works… It’s like a web.”
A regular guy
Despite his style of work, he maintains that he is neither a movie buff, nor an expert on art. “I do like watching cinema, and I’ve grown up on a good dose of film gossip,” he says, laughingly, “But I wouldn’t call myself a buff. The same with art, I like it but I don’t think I would pursue it academically,” says Tabrez, who is currently preparing for the NEET exam in Kota.
This is Tabrez’s second art account, the first one (@tabrezsecond), where he posts abstract art, is what he calls “a diary of neurotic images in my head”. While he admits he does not know how long he will be able to keep the @tabrezthird account running, he is now exploring Indian and Japanese folk paintings to keep things fresh. “I’m trying to find new artists, who will open new doors for interpretation,” he says.
(With inputs from Gautam Sunder)