Cartoon king aims to conquer Everest with art

November 11th, 2008 - 3:02 pm ICT by IANS  

Kathmandu, Nov 11 (IANS) Described as the “Caesar of cartoons” and the “king of American political cartoons” by newspapers across the world, 75-year-old Ranan Lurie now plans to make his biggest conquest - Mt Everest.The American cartoonist-painter-inventor, who is the most widely syndicated political cartoonist in the world with over 100 million people looking at his cartoons daily, starts his campaign in Nepal Tuesday to take an astounding project, begun 40 years ago, to the summit of the world’s highest peak.

Describing how it started, Lurie says that when he began, he had “no deep thoughts about it” but just wanted to have the avant garde original art, that resembles flowing water done in blue, at home.

However, after he completed the painting, he had the strange feeling that the art was unhappy. It was like “a huge strong dog on a leash” that was pulling him out of the house into the apartments of neighbours and the streets.

So he began adding canvases to the painting that started travelling outside his residence.

In March 2003 when Lurie was having lunch with the then UN secretary-general Kofi Annan at the UN headquarters, he had the idea of starting the “United Painting” from there and two years later, the first leg of the art started from the 75-feet high ceiling.

In the course of time, it descended from canvas to the carpet on the floor and then spilled out on the sidewalk from where it crossed the East river and reached Roosevelt Island, changing its colour from blue to a flaming orange during the meandering odyssey.

And now, he plans to put a canvas on the 8,848m high summit of Mt. Everest, the highest point on earth, to send out the message that no art is an island and that all the world is under the umbrella of art.

When Nepal’s Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ visited New York in September, Lurie met him as well as Nepali Foreign Minister Upendra Yadav to discuss the project.

On Monday, the maestro arrived in Kathmandu to start talks with the officials and get the ball rolling. He is now meeting Maoist Minister for Tourism, Culture and Civil Aviation Hisila Yami to complete the formalities.

Mt. Everest has seen prayers, book launches, a love marriage and even a striptease. Now it would have the added distinction of being the highest art gallery in the world.

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