From the limited art I am exposed to, I guess art never stops evolving.
In Dan Brown’s ‘Origin’ precisely we come across museums of such an unimaginable plane.
After viewing art in 3D, 4D etc., here in Doha at international art exhibitions, I think I can come to accept that art keeps evolving the way we may like it or not. Most Indians I have met do have an issue with this idea. Art to them has to be at a standstill. Necessarily two dimensional. They aren’t even willing to explore further possibilities, anything out of the canvas. This is their comfort zone. (Like they have fixed ideas about everything including our caste system. Just cannot grow out of it. So that’s why we stagnate).
I owe my little and negligible interest in art to my hubby who is an amateur artist. He mostly only sketches, or does water colours (his best) or acrylic. Through him I got exposed to mixed media art and art of different forms. Finger art, Calligraphy, Collage, Charcoal just to name a few. I never knew calligraphy could be so beautiful! Although I cannot understand the arabic in this form of art (we get to see only arabic calligraphy here), I seem to somehow transcend the distance and peek into the artist’s mind. Mostly from war torn nations of the world, the works would appear a silent scream to me. Especially calligraphy. Without deciphering a single word I could hear the plea or desperation. Such is the power of art. I think the alphabets of the arabic language are also well suited and naturally inclined/adaptable for this form of art. From questioning the purpose of the art I started appreciating art with time.
The MF Hussein one was a good one. Contrary to what was alleged by Indian media, in spite of the Hindu God depiction or representation in whatever way, I could only appreciate the genius unquestioningly, never doubting the artist’s intentions. Apparently this man adored Hindu Goddesses, no other way I could see it. His reverence is what led to the art. We saw whatever remained after destruction of the rest in India. I think this is a priceless lifetime experience of mine which cannot ever be had in India.
In one art exhibition, only the sound of a fountain was the art. You have to have a very keen ear. You have to pick up the rhythm. How the fountain is designed to generate a specific kind of musical (not really musical although it did seem to have a beat of sort) pitter patter is what is perceived to be art. In the journey to the fountain, the water races through some exposed plumbing works which all define the final output. Please do not compare this with the Dubai Mall fountain even if I have to agree, even that synchronization is sort of art with its mechanical effects.
Coming to terms with this kind of totally different dimension of art with sound etc., first was baffling to my simple mind. Breaking the jinx about the 2D art that we normally suppose art to be was not easy. Once we are free of these trappings, I guess we can enjoy any art better.
My hubby was also as a scrap artist and kolam artist (!) in his univ days so I have heard about this kind of art a 1000 times. The best scrap art exhibit is here executed by an Indian artist Prabodh Gupta.
Photography exhibition: This is good as well but I savour conventional art over photo expos.
Everything practically counts as art. Music, or for that matter any sound as I just said, anything arranged with an idea is art.
I am truly missing art from my life now. Otherwise here in Doha almost every week we go to art exhibitions and galleries that are open for free to the public. First i was not that much into art. But now i very much look forward to it. I view art as kind of meditation!
We spent hours in Paris, Florence and Rome looking at art. Staggering old world art. Exploring museums after museums. Fascinating insight into the medieval world. Unbelievable. Almost as if you are on time-machine transported to another world! I wished I learnt my world history proper!
I do like the contemporary one as well for the difference it makes to traditional art as we may come to view in museums. Cherish the Picasso moments here in Doha. The master is believed to be behind the modern art scene and he had his share of critics. At least thrice we were there to have our fill of artistic satisfaction. God’s gift so far as I see it. We won’t be getting another chance like this because, to view this batch of work, you will have to shell out hefty fee in any other part of the world.
I do like the contemporary artists as well. Encouraging them is important Have met dozens of nationalities that way who exhibit outstanding works. Some were already fetching great prices. The younger artists have a completely different perception of ideas and objects. They are not like the old masters. Refreshingly new thought process.
One art exhibition that we visited was that of paint spray work on corrugated sheets in steel (abstract art). Some were folded, some straight, some arranged in patterns like pleats… This meant welding and heat treatment to the artist’s perceptions. Mere transporting the bulky frames in pick-ups was a big headache for the artist who probably invented this kind of art! He was a regular professional who slowly came to discover this art form on his own, trying out his hand over a range of media. He perfected this one even if it was way too expensive and cumbersome and space consuming. Setting up the gallery can be a daunting task. Each piece weighed like a ton and was of huge dimensions! But what a work the artist created. What a mindset. What a creativity. That kind of illusions have to be seen to be believed. I understood, the spray had to be done at controlled temperature etc. Nothing was effortless. The artist was doing great because his art neatly fit into boutique hotels, office lounges etc. We were talking to the artist and he said, he struggled for two decades to convince anyone that this was art indeed. The same galleries that shunned him were now inviting him and clients were buying him out for whatever he quoted.
So why be shy of inventing your own art. What you make is art. Or whatever you make constitutes art.
Because of viewing art in different formats, I am now able to accept music in different genres as well. Music in English language has been an aversion for years now. In teens perhaps enjoyed a little. India is a place full of music. There is a lot to listen to. My first choice is always devotional for morning hours. Then classical Carnatic. After watching ‘The Disciple’ I feel guilty expecting the carnatic vocalists to do the bhakthi ghaana! Never thought about it in this angle. Of course there is always the filmy stuff for light music to ease stress.
More music is emerging. Initially I was not sure about the Carnatic renditions of Ashoka’s edicts or Tamil Kritis of contemporary times. I tell myself now, when I can come to accept art multi-dimensional, why cannot I view music in the same light. Art has not been reduced by the different dimensions it is growing by. Change is inevitable. Fresh blood has to be infused at some point or the regular fare will start sounding stale will time. The classical component will not lose it sheen with the introduction of some new aspects. I think the carnatic can absorb everything and grow from here. This mindset is possible for me because of my exposure to evolving art. I don’t think my fellow Indian citizens can ever think like me. I am not an expert by any means either in art or music. Just a thought…
If Thyagaraja and Dikshikthar were first generation, then Papanasam Sivan and Bharathi come in the next. Who is going to represent the present age in Carnatic world. I’ve thought about it. There is definitely a void. Anything or anyone from after 1970s. We in India always talk about our pazham perumai. Indhiyaavin pazham perumai. Like our ancient temples. Brahadeshwar is over 1000 years old, Kailasa from millennia before, dear Hindus, what do you have to show for this age. What landmark. What fresh creation. (Talking too muchaaah? 😀 Innum konjam vishayam therinja enna pudikkave mudiyadhu!)
Who is a rebel. Anyone with ideas going against the grain of fundamental framework may be labelled one, is it not. What happened to Galileo when he said earth revolved around the sun. Sometimes the time lapse for realization can be pretty long but will eventually serve its purpose. The audience have to mature psychologically, emotionally. Must have an open mind to accept fresh ideas and be sportive to receive and process conflicting theories. In any case, if an art form or music is to be viewed critically, it means a runaway success in my dictionary atleast 😀
As for art, nothing must go free either. Once my hubby was approached by a Brit to do a manual of sketches. He happily agreed because it was like his first (and probably only) professional assignment. He never expected a check but he was paid well for his work. When he refused, his client said that art must never go free and that even if amateur, my husband should charge something so that others would come to know that even that little art they cannot produce on their own. That it needed to be bought over for a price for consumption. After this encounter, we both are pretty convinced that charging for art is reasonable and justified. For professionals this is livelihood.
Art also gives you a great insight into the artist’s mind as I have seen. In middle-east, the visual art form is the only art encouraged. As performing art is not viewed favourably, the total focus is on visual art. This may be the reason I always find art from this region to be the best over our Indian. Some frames I have seen have been from wall to wall. Floor to floor. Staggering array of emotions packed into art. Whatever is repressed finds an expression into art… like way of screams, challenges, bold stances, supplication, surrender etc. Could such an art also serve to be a page from the book of world history? I hope so. Perhaps unwritten, undocumented sadly.
I have viewed some Indian works but mostly find them trivial as far as content is concerned (!) Necessity is the mother of invention, and perhaps this is the reason our local artists may not be that very explorative. When freedom of expression is restricted, then it finds a way in some in solid art forms. However my hubby refutes my statement and says, I haven’t seen much of Indian art and I am talking about something that I have no knowledge about, which is also true.
Inventiveness is the formula to succeed. We fail to invent, we stop with our growth. That much I know! No need to look for acceptance anywhere which will come with time. Audience keep changing. Art is constant. Oh, Art is evolving all the time! What may not be palatable to one gen can turn out to be a feast to the next.
The society or art that cannot unlearn and relearn stops growing. All said, I am a mere connoisseur of art and music! Grateful as a layman, for even this little exposure into this beautiful world that brings so much of peace and happiness to humanity. With even a little more art or music knowledge, I would be having a better perspective of both. Would like to underscore the importance of imparting art and music lessons to kids at an younger age so that they can live life to fullest.
Science for Art’s sake always, not vice versa.
Let’s enjoy anything and everything. Nothing is taboo. No holds barred.