I never could get Art.
For me, it was always an ‘F’ away from what I really thought it was.
I mean, while the world goes ga-ga over the “Mona Lisa”, I fail to see what all the excitement is about – I mean, is it only me who see a badly colored picture (instagram anyone?) of some middle aged woman, who had bad hair, a half-drunk smile and clearly no sex appeal (seriously, you call that a cleavage!)?
Or even that painting called "The Scream" (above), supposedly the most expensive painting ever bought. Really??? Am I missing something here or doesn't it look like something my 3 year old niece drew? If she did, then we're pressing charges as she did not get any of the $119 million that it was reportedly sold for.
Art around me has definitely changed with time – when I was a kid, a painting of a woman actually looked like one (recall Raja Ravi Verma paintings); then came ‘modern art’- with shockingly explicit and gleeful nudity that clearly dispelled all doubts about the gender (ya baby, it was a woman alright! J) ; and finally there’s abstract art, where there were just geometric shapes arranged in some vague fashion that the celebrity painter successfully convinced everyone in the gallery that it really was a woman. Except me of course - I still think it was just shapes from a gigantic high school instrument box arranged in well, a very random way.
So all my life, I was pretty convinced that an art aficionado, I was not destined to become; in fact, when I was to choose graduation after high school, I opted out of the one that had ‘Art’ in the nomenclature and went ahead for other option - ‘engineering’ (great idea that turned to be.)
So I joined a writer’s workshop called the Bangalore Writers Workshop recently. And when they started the course with an exercise called “Art inspires art”, my first reaction was total panic. The idea of the exercise was to intensely look at the many paintings in their art gallery, so that we may get so “inspired” that we could repaint the pictures into our books with our words. Maybe my undying sense of optimism failed me that day (as has been the case all my life, in matters of the Art), but I was immediately gripped by an acute sense of dreadful fear when this exercise was announced. My mind started asking myself scary questions like “”what if these paintings were the “modern kind” or even worse, what if they were, oh my God, “abstract”?”, “What if I could find nothing in them?”, “What if other people would discover my ignorance?”, “ What if…..? ”
I was petrified……
So I reluctantly walked around the small gallery trying to find the painters’ profound purports in each of the portraits. I found none. I looked around at the other participants and they seem to have been pretty much “inspired” by the paintings. Pramodini fell in love with a painting that was supposedly of a flower, which someone else claimed was jasmine – I looked at the “flower” and all I could see was stale upma. Rhea gazed intensely into the paintings trying to find deeper meaning within the shades – I tried doing the same and surprisingly, I did manage to discover some sort of life on the painting – I moved closer to the painting but the fly flew away. Arun peered pensively into the paintings, scribbled down something into his notebook and marched confidently to the next - my immediate thought was “Steal his notebook and run!” But I did nothing of the same – he looked fitter than me and could easily outrun me. Also he had muscles.
Everyone in the room seemed to have found something new by simply looking at the paintings. Everyone except me. I was almost “art-broken” when Kishore unwittingly came to my rescue. Kishore pointed to one of the paintings and said it was not exactly a painting but actually a collage. I looked at the Ganesha painting and saw that he was right. And then it struck me! The cupid of Inspiration (if there is such a person) had finally shot me with his inspiration- waala arrow.
I was inspired – I could see more than upma, I could see more than flies, I could see more than before. And with my new found “inspiration”, I looked around the gallery with renewed sight. I still saw nothing.
But yet, I did manage to find another painting that was also, similarly different – this painting had real buttons pasted on the canvas such that they represented the keys of a typewriter. The paper coming out of the typewriter’s paper roll had sketches of multiple number of people.
And then it struck me – in the midst of all those paintings that made no sense to me, the ones that stuck to my mind were the ones that stood out. And I realized that it is the case in real life too – usually, it’s the people - God’s greatest portraits, (ah thank you! J ) - who are different that stand out in life. And that Saturday night, my dinner friend, who is a recruiter by profession, agreed with me that evening that it’s usually the ones who stand out in the interview, that eventually get selected. And if you look closely at life, the men who’ve made it (and women of course) seem to have an extra “something” that sets them apart from the crowd, and it’s usually that “something” that propels them further forward. And my recruiter friend goes on by adding that everyone has a unique “something” about themselves; we just need to take the time and effort to find what it is, hone and nurture it and slowly let that “something” drive our lives forward to wine, wealth and wisdom (and the odd woman or two…. J).
So in conclusion, I guess that art does inspire art. Rather in this case, I think that art inspires life. But thinking out loud, wasn’t art inspired by life in the first place? So it should be that life inspires art, isn’t it?? Or isn’t it that………….?
I never could get Art.