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Monday, December 30, 2002

An old blog.... a bid to make myself feel better...

Modern Art. While pursuing my masters in communication from the University of Hyderabad, I had the opportunity to interact with a number of students of Fine Arts. Most of them were very skilled. All of them were dedicated. They spent long hours poring over their scrap books, easels and etchings creating stuff.

Whenever I had the time and the inclination, I would go sit beside them and view the work. Believe me, a load of effort went into those works. They would slog day and night. In fact, they were the only people who had access to theeir classrooms at night. Because their work demamnded that sort of access.

Once a month, they would have an exhibition of sorts, where all the work produced over the previous month would be displayed for the benefit of whoever was interested. I often when to these exhibitions. And I must confess now, that I was mostly dissapointed.

Call it my ignorance or term it the lack of a faculty to understand 'art' but to me any art must be recognisable. I may be neo classicist in my taste, but when I see human beings, they must look like human beings that I have so far had the opportunity to see. Not blotches of paint that are termed humans.

When I am told I am looking at a flower or a petal, I must immediately grasp that I am seeing what the artist has seen and therefore captured on canvas. Often I get to see some reptile morphing into the torso of a woman that is merely titled 'Petal' and displayed. Others seem to catch the essence, the hidden meaning, but I am often left clueless.

I have tried to derive some meaning from the so-called works of modern art by talking with a number of artists at the school. To them it is clear, and a manifestation of the essence of comprehension. As they see it. But to me, any method of communication must do that, namely communicate. Of what use is art, if someone has to stand beside it explaining what it is meant to be. And more often than not, it hardly seems like that even after all explanation.

To me, most modern art seems like childish scribblings with paint daubed all over the canvas. I don't intend to demean the capabilities of the artists. They can create some pretty lifelike drawings and paintings when they want to. Somehow, and for reasons best known to them, they 'choose' not to.

What sparked all this off is an article I had the opportunity to read in the India Today. This pertained to how the western world was finally beginning to accord the indian artists with their true worth. Tyeb had sold his painting for 317,000 dollars! And believe me, I honestly felt from the look of it, that my landlady's 5 year old daughter could very well have been the artist!!

The description said that the painting represented the fractured dancing steps of a group of tribals dancing their traditional dance. Frankly, it seemed like an unfinished work that had no faces, no limbs. Just colourful figures swathed in romanesque togas drawn from differing geometric perspectives.

Another one (I cannot recall the name of the artist) was even worse. It was a red canvas with blotches of yellow dimly visible in places. And some rich individual had thought it worthy of paying a couple of hundred thousand dollars for it! Seriously!!

I still don't see what the big deal is.


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