Art, the new picture
Updated: Dec 22, 2022
I have been going to an Art school since the age of six years. It used to be every Sunday that my drawing teacher used to come to our house until my younger brother grew old enough so that we could go together to the Art school. We have grown up with only Doordarshan at home, so Sunday evenings used to be really special as there used to be a movie telecast on the channel out of the meager two movies per week. We both used to hate the intersection and so most of the time either he used to have a stomach pain or me, and if one does not go how can the other, that was a deal. But in spite of all the love for the Sunday movie we also used to love drawing, but only our way. As I grew I realized that painting is the most wonderful form of art as it is very powerful. I realized how we can convey so much by just drawing a few meaningful lines. I started realizing its beauty and gradually became more inclined towards attending regular classes. My younger brother still would have his stomach pain, but I would be off with my pastels and water colors to draw my world colorful. I used to find it initially a little painful to see my teacher’s extra concern for the measurements to be correct always. He was very specific that body parts were very carefully drawn and ample care should be taken that the legs, hands and the body were all in the proper ratio unless I was drawing a rickety child or a deformed man! He was also very particular about the eyes drawn well and should convey what I wanted the portrait to convey. Whenever I used to make a mistake in these things, with a sheepish grin I used to plea saying “Modern art, Sir.” He would take my canvas and within minutes make an exotic beautiful lady or an old farmer or a muscular blacksmith full of life and vigor. He would make his final comment “It’s very important in Art to observe carefully, perception is very important.” I stopped going to formal art school at the age of 16. Now I would be 23 soon and I still draw portraits and what I have carried along with me all these years are observant eyes and a clear perspective about things.
Undoubtedly art is about conveying what you feel, but then I wonder if my teacher was just mad to put so much of stress on accuracy as well. Does not a figure with hands, legs and face of a proper dimension convey anything? Or is it that the moment you deform them you can convey more? There seems to be an obsession for nudity in art. It used to be only women who earlier used to face this brunt, but now even Gods and Goddesses are not spared. And why not, don’t all our temples and architectural sites all have nude deities dancing or in different inviting postures. But a little disturbing it gets when nudity is accompanied with obscenity. I have been twice to very famous art exhibitions, once with my father and once with a male-friend and in both the times we decided to see the exhibition separately as walking together down the galleries was really embarrassing. Women body was deformed to the extent of vulgarity on the pretext of conveying a meaning. Yes we all are free individuals with our right to say and paint whatever way we feel like, but then are we not members of a civilized society that should be guided be a little of responsibility also? You may argue that I should not have visited those places when I knew such paintings would be on display, I would say why should not I? I have a lot of respect for this modern art form but I only don’t like when too much of liberty is taken and sentiments get hurt.
Art to me is not to hurt, but only to convey a meaning which you may not agree with but would still like to respect.
Recently I got an email showing all the paintings of M. F. Hussain which roused so much of protest. As an art lover I totally denounce such actions which cringe in the liberty of the artist. But on the flip side of it, the paintings definitely play with the religious sentiments of a few sects. I know it is the age of tolerance and it is stupid that we fight over meaningless issues instead of working towards creating a developed country, but then isn’t religion only about faith and nothing else, so if our faith is tampered with should we not make a little noise? Yes the way is wrong; I have the right to express my disagreement but keeping in mind the norms of a civilized society. So the bottom-line is that the means to be followed should be democratic and not outrageous. As Meera Devidayal, an artist in Mumbai (Frontline, June 1, 2007) puts it, “Art is sometimes created to provoke, to stimulate debate and for people to interpret in different ways. Most artists would not mind people objecting to their work, but it should be done in the right manner. There are peaceful platforms for debate and those could be used.” Period!
Disclaimer: The views are completely personal and do not intend to hurt anybody. Any peaceful debate is welcome.