Thursday, December 10, 2015

State of Art

So Ravi sat, watching the little touristy noisy vessels going pass him. One, more lit up than the other. It was that decorated time of the year, when every little structure was sporting, their, little twinkling lights, while every shop was screaming special deals on the festive bargains. There and still not part of all this wear and tear, he watched detached, like an out of body experience.
His phone rang, he ignored it for a few times. After seven such calls, he finally answered, "Yah, I’m ok. Sitting by the river front.... no I'm alone. Yah you can come......but don’t bring anyone along."
After a while Samuel joined him. He asked Ravi, "So u waiting for Godot too?" They both laughed.
Samuel then sent Ravi an enquiring look, Ravi shrugged and confessed he was feeling too transparent in that crowd. Samuel nodded and said he understood, "It’s quite a circus there! Don’t know what’s selling there.....artworks, or people. Ravi then began, "I don’t know what is more disturbing, the circus or the people who watch the circus. I mean, look at me; am i not to blame? Don’t I want a piece of that cake, that they are all in there, battling for.
I can logically say that I feel I don’t belong there. But did i not come here to be a part of this flesh trade. Yah Samuel, don’t look at me like that, just because you and I are not buying and selling ourselves doesn’t mean others are not. I mean did u see how Coral, was behaving. It corrupts the creative space and disrespects, her own artwork. Can she not see that it’s not necessary to stand there and lure people to her work.
I mean the process it’s so sacred. It’s me and my space with my thoughts and ability. What comes out thereafter is a result of that experience. Forget me, can anyone actually make real sense of that thereafter? No they can’t, no u can’t! So why am I expected to stand there as part of an extended display and answer those banal questions? If I showed them my wounds, would they” stressing, “tell me Samuel, would they feel the pain? No they won’t. However maybe just maybe, there will be one person, who just was walking passed and stopped, stared and felt the pang. Now just because she felt the pang do we have to force her to buy the work? Maybe she doesn’t want a reminder of the pain. Maybe she just connected for that fleeting second. Do i have to compel her to see that she needs a daily reminder of the pain..... I mean isn’t it repulsive this entire process? Come and see me somersault, clap and when you are done clapping, buy a figurine at the door shop that will constantly remind you of what a buffoon I am."
Ravi stops and Samuel sighs....... "Ravi, I know you think it’s impure, this entire process. However this is how the world functions. Life is a market, some will sell others will buy. You have to understand you are not selling yourself, but a remnant of an experience. Some will not actually, just appreciate, but also fathom the entire experience. And until that happens, your work has to be out there looking. You are not a spectator in the circus, you and I are the circus. Me for funding the talent I’m trying to uphold and show to the world, and you for the mirror you hold, hoping to find your reflection someday in it. Alas, once here in this market, all we will see, is the blood that bleeds and shadows of people that used to be. You and I are not above this bazaar. We are the bazaar." Ravi stares away in front and then slowly he resigns and rests his head on Samuel's shoulder. Samuels phone rings, "Hello! yes, its 2,40,000. Yes, I’m bringing him over. He will explain it, himself." Ravi smiles.They slowly get up to leave the river promenade.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Breaking the Silence

It’s been a long silence. Definitely haven’t felt the need of words. Or rather the silence helped me realise the non-stop chatter of the mind…..and boy does it chatter. “Words”, are they the respite from this marathon mind chatter? Yes, have been thinking a lot lately about how words complicate more than they resolve. I think I like silence better. Music, yes! Apart from that, silence.
The current body of work has sprung from the verbal silence and constant mind chatter. I observe a lot more in this mode. Mostly myself, to the stimuli around me. I worked with a lot of images shot lately. These images on their own did not become a work of expression, but somehow shooting them exclusively and then bringing them together in a single canvas, they actually starting narrating a story. The story of the eternal query “who am I”, where do I feature in all this. Universal question and oft asked you may say. However the handling is personal. I am questioning in this body of work my own identity, my own crisis, my own stand. Stand in what you ask. The basic stand in who am I? What is my racial identity? What is my national identity? What is my standpoint if at all there is any? Why is there a need to have a standpoint? Why are we victims of hierarchy?  Am I religious or am I spiritual?
As an artist I react to the circumstances I am dwelling in, the socio-political environment as a global citizen. However the greater question is, should we not react as “human” instead of an identity given to us if not at birth, then at a later stage. These questions difficult to answer, yet I believe that the creative mind is more responsible for being the voice of the time they are living in. The onus is on us to bring the focus on what should be asked and what should be reacted against.
Artists who show in every art fair, start introspecting about where they are headed with their art and what happens after the next fair, need to start looking into their own thought process. As creative minds we need to take that long and hard look in the mirror ourselves, before we start seeing the shadows of others in it. I know I’m looking and I’m not liking everything I am see but it’s getting more and more entertaining. It’s like this Technicolor movie, that’s just getting to that suspense scene. So go grab your popcorn will meet you again with more juicy scenes after the India Art Festival. ;) 

Monday, May 18, 2015

Exploration Continues

This year has seen a different stage in personal art exploration. We (Maya and me) completed “Boundaries” an installation which was part of the Goodman art festival during the ARTWEEK. It is a  comment on the human encroachment of space, virtual and physical. It’s a permanent display and Goodman Arts Centre were our venue sponsors. Then came along Peregrination, which was an intense expression for both us artist and our understanding of journeys. We also got supported by the NAC for the same. During the exhibition we had some lovely workshops and two of them for a special needs school. Both of us enjoyed that and we are thinking of making it a more regular event in our lives. On the opening night we both did not want to stand and mingle with the crowd and “explain” our personal process and hence we took to doing a quirky start to the exhibition by having a live painting installation which was site specific. It served the purpose of entertainment and us not having to face the limelight. J
I thought I would take a break for a while and we knew we had another big mural project coming up. We even set up our joint company to do such public work. Yes Yellow Brush is now what the two of us own jointly. A partnership requires lots of thought and understanding and more than that a huge ability to give each other space and healthy criticism.
The break was cut short when my curator and good friend Vidhya roped me into an exhibition themed on Buddha long after the due date. I had lesser time than the other artists and was still reeling from the extensive “Peregrination”. Vidhya also insists on pure paintings and hence I could not give her my mixed medium work. I went back to traditional oils. I had fun I must admit and my whole take is on saying it differently. With Buddha everyone does a face or a hand. I have to move from the clich├ęd representation and hence in one I used colours that are bright and unusual and was happy to have just his eyes and ears in the painting, more on the Bodhi state of mind. The second one which was from a photographers perspective was looking at Buddha from the back. The head which along with the ears becomes an interesting focal point. Being such a laughter maniac myself who loves talking endlessly about the Happiness program, it was essential to have a lighter element and hence the floating Laughing Buddha was what I rendered as a difference. It was a good opening night. Yet what I did observe is unusual over confidence from first time and recently exhibiting artists who tend to over price their work. A little research helps in such cases. However this is when the creators ego steps in. Although very often these people will take a huge cut when selling directly and hence creating a complete hypocritical state in their own market standing. I wish them luck on their endeavours and personal journeys.
Moving on Maya and I are now going to start our huge body of work……we have been looking forward to getting this done. Its been months of planning and I can’t wait to see the final product on our clients wall. Working with Maya is always fun and we artists do enjoy our food so I look forward to a lot of food exploration too. Stay posted will write soon again. In the meanwhile enjoy these Buddha images. By the way, opening night saw my Bodhi do the first sale. 

Monday, March 9, 2015

Art Lingo and the Song and Dance

The art of gallery lingo, or what you can call jargon exists and the mango person, or in other words the common man is far often baffled with the intricacies that this dialect offers. What would normally seem sorted, seems unfathomable and too obtuse to connect with. What then, is the purpose of these handouts, write ups and this exalted conversation that the gallery guide subjects you to. Whatever happened to simple and easy to understand lingo you ask! Is simple understandable language deemed unworthy in this realm of creative beings?
In my pursuit to unravel this mystery lets discuss this further to get a perspective if not an answer to the mind’s query, in what is now recognised as International Art English (IAE) thus coined by David Levine and his friend Alex Rule, critic and sociology PhD student at Columbia university in New York.
Being an artist and often guilty of being caught up in this verbal maze of interpretation where an “apple” will not be referred to as a “red fruit” but “a red fruit of temptation which became the subsequent downfall of Adam and his kind, and yet has the power to mould the future...”.
Let us probe further into finding a reason for this rather digressive means of reference to the subject. Maybe a certain tone of textual seriousness is conveyed through the exalted usage of the language. It is probably to convey to the viewer, buyer or even browser, that they must drop their ordinary gaze and bring in their most prized glance, to fathom the depth of the presented art or their wallet, whichever be the case. Hence creating a psychological acceptance of the price list.
IAE, could also spring from the entire avant-garde movement which was heralded by the French and which was a non conformist movement to previously established rules in art and art movements. This new form of art needed new language to describe it. Hence an even complex task, when translated from French to English. Perhaps this also explains the rather French behaviour and mannerisms of today’s gallery assistants and certain curators too. You will now argue that if it is rooted in a cultural understanding of art why is it prevalent all over the globe. Good point, but then most art norms are generally set by the European art market. It is only recently that Asia has suddenly started having its say.
One can create an amusing past time of collecting literature, from various shows and exhibitions and doing a study of the language. This can well be used in lessons aimed at teaching editing by de-jargonising. However once simplified try using these as hand outs and I can tell you the entire exercise of creating an aura of a collection and mystery to the artists thought process is completely lost. Hence I would like to affirm there is definitely a certain beauty, and therein a purpose to mystifying the subject in hand. This is important when you are trying to re –interpret what has already been done by the artist. Hence despite all these exalted notes “the artists perspective” is often sought. The simplified language of the simple artist can sometimes even leave the buyer de-mystified or slightly disappointed. Here is when the curator jumps in and speaks for the artist and once again is very successful in re-webbing that aura of extravagance embedded in visual jargon. I have seen that happen one too many times, and sometimes even on panel discussions. Am I stepping on toes here....but anybody who knows anything about me, knows that I live and get my inspiration from these very tip toe moments.
Coming back to the matter at hand this jargon namely IAE and the need for it is something that even the new bee or hobby artist acknowledges. Some of these hobby artists, aspiring to call themselves as full time artists even take lessons with a “master” or someone of recognisable talent to be able to learn and de-code some of this jargon. At times these are even expelled from the system verbatim and can create an amusing evening and mind you I am a tea taller; so it’s not the wine that makes me smile and feel light headed. I do enjoy the food in these events as these often turn out to be well catered. And events they surely are!!
Hence it would seem there is a well established need for IAE in the world of art and art collectors and the art fakers too. It’s just that even within the realms of IAE some have totally mastered it while others are still trying to grope the very basics of it. As an artist, I do get curated for shows and as these are group shows I respect the curator’s skill in tying the entire exhibit and there after presenting each of the artists. I do self present myself in various shows and as an artist who does regular proposals for different bodies, I definitely understand the need to convey a concept. However when I do, I prefer to keep it simple and yet dreamy, painting with words, trying not to take away from what they will see, feel and ultimately take home with themselves, mainly memories and various impressions. Hopefully the next time you do come across an exalted piece of gallery literature you will give it that prestige it deserves and read it. Remember, those are hours and hours of work you will be shoving in your evening clutch. Personally I don’t waste money printing’s up there on the wall; if you have the time to read it you will find it :)