After a forceful keynote address on leadership at a conclave organised in the US by one of my business clients, General Colin Powell, former US secretary of state, agreed to pose for photographs with participants. At the opportune moment, I shied away, so the keepsake picture at home has my wife alongside the General, but not me. On her query of my sudden disappearance, I replied, “Guernica”.
When Nazi and Fascist war planes bombed the Spanish town Gernika during the 1937 Spanish Civil War, Spanish artist Pablo Picasso was furious. He started painting his protest in Guernica, a huge 11x24 feet canvas. This painting has since become an anti-war icon used extensively in 1960s by anti-Vietnam demonstrators. A Guernica reproduction hangs in the UN headquarters in New
York. When in February 2003, Powell presented the US case for declaring war on Iraq, Guernica had to be covered as author Russell Martin wrote. Although I don’t support Powell’s move for war, I admire his sensitivity to conceal Guernica that’s so imbued with anti-war messaging.
Art is a medium where you don’t require a visiting card. I’ve found art’s extreme power to always have two elements, execution on canvas or sculpting form, and the artist’s imagination that creates influence beyond the canvas. Painting “is an instrument of war”, said Picasso. Art can be a medium of revolt as in Guernica, or it can spark invention. Here are two examples of artists drawing the future, latent movement of society. The automobile was ignited from 14th-century artist
Simon Martini’s drawing, while 16th-century artist Leonardo da Vinci first drew the flying machine, the seed of today’s aviation industry. Art can be hetero-dimensional, converging ideas to be scientific, philosophical or seductive, communicating different elements to different people to take society forward.
Let me take you to an exhibition of my paintings I was invited to hold in the sophisticated Carlton hotel in Cannes, south of France. As I’d started my consulting business, I did not want to sell my paintings, so I informed the hotel my paintings were for exhibition only, not for sale. After the first day of the exhibition, the hotel PR person called to say a genuine art lover and collector wanted to buy four of my paintings, and insisted she has to meet me. The PR person persuaded me to at least meet her. Actually, I found that even holding an exhibition of my simple